Spring Break: A Parent’s Chance to Bond with Your Teenager

 

Spring Break with parents

I long for the days of being a teenager and looking forward to spring break. Right about now, most teens are exhausted, crabby and tired of school. My son complains almost every day about how much work teachers are piling on and how other students are becoming annoying.  As a parent, I can tell you I’m suffering along with him as we head into the final stretch of the school year.

Spring break can’t come soon enough!  I admit,  I’m looking forward to spring break as much as my teenagers.

My daughter, Carly, is a college senior. I can’t wait to spend time with her. If there’s anything I have learned over my years of parenting teenagers it is to use spring break wisely. Whether or not you have something planned for spring break, give your teenager time to unwind. Having some down time can make a big difference in the months of May and June when the end-of-the-school-year is a crazy blur of banquets, final exams, awards ceremonies and recitals.

Making time during spring break for one-on-one with your teen goes a long way. Recently, I was talking with my friend Maria, whose four children are now in their 20s. We were discussing the baby and toddler years vs. the teen years. She said something that struck me. The teen years, she said, are so much more important. They are your chance to establish trust and communication. Once your teen graduates from high school, the things they come to you to discuss have much bigger life implications. If you have that relationship, your opinions hold more weight.  When she said that, I realized how true it is.

My bonding strategy

We all know teens don’t  view spring break as a  time to hang out with their parents. (Who wants to be seen on the beach with mom, right?) Teens see it as a break from school and a chance to “just chill” and hang out with friends.

Clearly, OUR idea of spring break isn’t watching our teen spend days focused on some variation of a screen (video games, social media, texting, tv, taking selfies, etc.) while stretched on the couch eating junk food. That can get so frustrating! So can being the parent who turns into the house nag.   As social worker Dori Mages notes, “If the point of spring break is to relax and have fun together, then make sure it isn’t an excuse to spend time reminding them of a laundry-list of “to do’s” such as homework, chores, the overdue thank-you note to grandma, or questioning their fluctuating moods or silences. ”

That’s why I plan to be strategic this spring break. Doing an activity with teenagers doesn’t have to be expensive. And, they don’t even need to know I am plotting to get one-on-one time.  This spring break, I am suggesting my daughter help cook her favorite dessert with me. I am offering my youngest son to go on a bike ride with me to get an icee from 7-Eleven. Think small activities that your teen with enjoy as much as you will.

Even working parents can make bonding time

I realize some parents work during their teenagers’ spring break. Still, all of us can find a way to spend an hour bonding in some creative way. It could be as simple as staying up a little later and watching a movie with your teen. Go for it parents, you won’t regret it!

Whether you are traveling for spring break or just hanging around town, spring break is the perfect time for creating new memories, or just figuring out what’s going on in your teen’s head. Before we know it it will be summer. We just need to survive the next few months!

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