Okay, so it’s summer right now. Most of us have had our vacations and school is less than a month away. We’ve got the Bar-B-Q warmed up and we’re planning as many get-togethers, with family and friends, as possible. Cool! Why go and ruin it by talking with your teen about school now? Here’s 5 reasons why you should!
- Hectic is around the corner. During the summer, we often spend more energy on our relationships. Of course that is a good thing! The problem is that come September, we allow ourselves to be distracted by work and hectic schedules to find time to talk. Another problem is that the kids are also being distracted by new teachers, students and (dare I say it) the opposite sex. Well, when vacation time ends, the energy we’ve put into our relationship with our teens really has weight. So before they get too busy, insist on connecting now. Take advantage that they don’t have school. If it means you take them out for a piece of pie at 10 PM, DO IT! (Their brain works best at that time and they are usually at their most social because of their developmental stage.)
- We need good habits. Unfortunately, we live in an ADD world and we (including our teens) have short attention spans. …….. (excuse me, I was distracted.) So when I say we need to communicate with them, I don’t mean have ONE conversation. This is a great time to set a new pattern of conversations. Once a week, sit and have a pow-wow about what going on with him/her. These are not loooong sit downs, they are short. If you have more than one teen, then speak to them separately. Make one on one time for each. Even 20 minutes, once a week, at your local coffee house hang out will change everything. Now is the time to start this wonderful new habit. Not in September.
- What motivates your offspring? Ever notice how the word relationship has the word ‘relate’ in it? Well we need to make time to relate to their world, on their terms. Do you know their dreams, passions, what bores them? So put away your personal agenda and make this time about them! Not: “did you clean your room?”…etc. Here are open ended questions you can ask: “what was your best part of summer so far?”; “what are you looking forward to with school?”; “what are your friends most worried about for school?”; “how do you feel about their concerns?”. This is done over the next few weeks – not in one shot! If they are worried about getting a certain teacher, or not getting a class they were hoping for, find out now so you can be up to speed and assist them if they need your help.
- Changes can be jarring. Parents look at September as “back to the old routine”. Kids start a whole new world every September. They will create new groups to hang with; have new teachers. Imagine changing jobs every year! Yikes! “Will they like me?” “Can I manage the workload?” “What if there’s a b*tch and I get bullied?” They need to be comfortable to approach us so the relationship needs to be strong and fed regularly.
- Roller coaster emotions. Teenagers (especially girls) have so many new emotions and need a safe place to explore them. Also, they shift gears very, very quickly. The way to create that space is to have made time to talk about the silly and non earth shattering stuff going on which keeps the lines of communication open. The teenage years is where they develop the bulk of their beliefs and values that will carry them through life. You don’t want your sweet little girl limiting her discussions with the gang at school about the really meaty stuff. Also, encourage talk about other resources they might want to tap into, like a school counselor, doctor or youth worker if they won’t come to you.
Be their mentor and their guide: their parent, not their girlfriend.
But mostly: BE AVAILABLE!
I’d love to know what your experience has been. What do you do to help ease the transition to school after the holidays? Write in the comments box below.