It’s Spring Break Time
Can you imagine, we are already in March and Spring Break is just around the corner? Depending on their children’s ages, parents either look forward to Spring Break or get a little nervous about it. They are happy about having their teens and young adults at home, but then they start worrying about what their plans are. Are they going to be safe? How can parents help their teens and young adults stay safe?
1. Prepare them adequately
As much as your teens and young adults may not want to communicate with you, it behooves you as the parent to know their plans and prepare them adequately. If your teens are have travel plans know where are they going and who they are going with. They must confirm their accommodations and have back up plans just in case things fall through. Make sure they have their ID cards/passports and copies should they lose these important documents. With the current state of affairs teens should be well prepared especially if they are traveling internationally. If they are going to the beach make sure they have sun screen. This may sound like a little thing but it could mess up their vacation if they have sunburn. You should confirm that there will be adequate supervision if they are traveling with friends. It’s imperative to have contact information of your teen’s friends and contact information for where they may be staying, in case of emergency.
2. Help them know and accept their limitations
When teens and young adults congregate, they sometimes forget their limitations. They see their friends swimming and they forget they can’t swim. It’s so unfortunate but almost every year a teen drowns because they could not swim and yet they jumped into the lake. Also they see their friends drinking and decide to drink one on one with them and then climb in their cars and drive off. Teens are not only a danger to themselves but to others when they don’t recognize their limitations. Hopefully you’ve been talking to your teens over the years and they know what your expectations are and know how to behave whether you’re present or not. They should know their limitations and learn to hold themselves accountable for their actions.
3. Teach them to bow out when necessary
Teens have gotten into trouble because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. You have to empower your teens to have courage to bow out when it is necessary to do so. They should have no shame in calling a parent to pick them up if they are in a room with kids doing anything that makes them uncomfortable, like drugs or excessive drinking. If their friends are behaving badly and getting into fights, they should be able to get into their cars and drive off or call for help if necessary. It doesn’t matter if their friends make fun of them, we should teach our teens to have integrity and courage to stand up and do the right thing. They will be amazed when ultimately their friends will respect them for it.
4. Time for family
Parents shake their heads in disappointment when teens come home for spring break and all they want to do is hang out with their friends or sit on their phones in their bedrooms. That is typical teenage behavior but you should still encourage them to participate in family events. Be reasonable about what you expect from them though. For instance, don’t expect them to trot behind you to the mall to shop for yourself. They won’t enjoy it and neither will you. But if you have family traditions like Sunday service and a family brunch, then if they are home they should participate in that. We should not be afraid to ask them to join in family events. They may pull a long face but learn to ignore it and before long they actually forget why they are upset and join in the fun. On the other hand, please don’t suffocate them with your love. I’ve met teens who once they go off to college refuse to come home for any vacation because they have been so smothered that they can’t wait to get away. You have to keep a healthy balance. Our teens are growing up and they need some space to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes. That is the only way they will grow and become the independent adults we want them to be.
As spring break rolls around, relax and enjoy the time you have with your teens. Encourage them to participate in family events, but don’t stifle them. Watch them grow up as they make their plans and spread their wings. Know what those plans are, who they are going to be with and ask about supervision and obtain contact information to be able to reach them in case of an emergency. Ensure that your teens are well prepared with the appropriate identification and clothing and equipment. Remind them what their limitations are and what your expectations are of them are and empower them to bow out when they find themselves in the wrong place.
At the end of it all, say a prayer to the good Lord to protect them wherever they are and let them go! And you sit back and enjoy your spring break, knowing that they have the best protection of all.