By Jason Gibson
As we move into some of the favorite months of the year for teens, it is a great time to consider how to make the best of this season of sunshine and freedom. Many new experiences can occur for teens during the summer, and parents should be intentional about taking the steps needed to help those memories be something that is savored rather than regretted.
Here are 3 ways to reach the destination: “The Best Summer Ever”
1) Determine the destination
Encourage your teen to think about how to have the best summer ever. Where do they want to find themselves at the end of the summer? Though a new place to visit is nice, help them to think about more than just a location.
Great summers are about experiences that will allow them to try something new, meet new people, and start fresh–all of which can happen without even having to leave your community. Here are some questions to start the discussion:
- What is something you have always wanted to do but couldn’t?
- What would you like to learn how to do/play/be?
- What person or place could you help in a meaningful way?
- Are there any relationships you would like to begin?
- Are there any relationships you need to let go?
2) Illuminate the blind spots
In addition to great freedom and opportunity for your teen during the summer, there is also the need for increased responsibility. There is potential for the summer to become very painful for those teens who are unaware, ill-equipped, or alone. As parents, you need to move past the light stuff and onto those topics that are a bit heavier and sometimes awkward to talk about–things like alcohol, drugs, relationships, sex, and pornography. Not only can these choices be problematic in the present, but they can also have an impact that will last a lifetime. You are the best person to help your teen navigate these waters before they become turbulent.
3) Make a plan
After you have encouraged your teen to determine their destination and helped them to uncover the blind spots, go ahead and have them make a plan. Something written is always better. For example, give them a journal, and at the top of each page, they can write what they want to accomplish this summer. As each goal is achieved, then have them write about it on the appropriate page. You could even have them go digital and do the same thing via computer or social network. Don’t be afraid, though, to encourage your teen to unplug from the digital universe. Many beautiful sites (literally and figuratively) have been missed because eyes were on an electronic device!
Don’t forget that you and your teen can always revisit your plan as the summer progresses. Some of the best vacation memories are those unplanned detours that let us see something we never knew existed. Don’t fill all your pages, either; leave something to consider for the next summer.
Have a safe trip!
Brainstorming: What ideas do you have for parents and teens to use as they plan their summer vacation?