Spring Break ’16 is here.
“It’s finally here. Spring break. We get to go off and have some fun with our friends.” We overheard a group of teenagers say to themselves. My friends and I looked at each other, a little apprehensive. This time, our teens were among those going off to have fun and we had been talking about how hard it was for us to let go.
One mom said, “We just have to commit them into God’s hands and pray for their safety.” Others echoed the same sentiment. One mom said she just wasn’t comfortable about her teens not coming home for spring break but she had not been able to convince them otherwise. How can parents ensure their teens are safe, whilst still letting go?
1. Prayer is not an option, it is a necessity.
Praying for our teens is a must, if we want to keep our teens protected. Have you noticed how when you try to dissuade your teens from doing something, they insist on doing exactly what you don’t want them to do? It almost becomes a battle of wills with your teen daring you to stop them if you can. I’ve learned over the years that the best thing to do is to discuss it and leave it alone, and then turn to prayer. Praying for your teens is not like magic where a light bulb suddenly goes off in your teen’s head and they suddenly agree with you. No, prayer sometimes changes you to make you more understanding and give you the courage to let go, or prayer protects your teens even as they make mistakes and learn along the way and sometimes prayer can definitely bring about the change that you want. So the next time you are tempted to nag and berate your teen about their Spring Break plans or anything else of importance, just stop, take a deep breath, make your point calmly and then turn to prayer.
2. Be proactive.
Having said your prayers, you have to be proactive. Start talking to your teens about what their Spring Break plans are. Where exactly are they going to? Who else is going with them? Are these people you trust? Let them know your expectations as they go on their trips. Talk to them seriously about no drinking and driving or drug use. They should conduct themselves in a manner befitting who they truly are. In this day and age, where people are constantly being filmed on cell phones, cameras etc, they should not act in a manner that would embarrass them if the whole world saw what they were doing. And really, teens should understand that it’s very easy for colleges, potential employers and even law enforcement to see who they truly are because cameras are rolling everywhere now.
3. Teens must hold each other accountable
It’s important for our teens to understand that they need to protect each other when they go on their trips. Teens see strangers who look nice and engaging, and they can trustingly go off with them. Teens have been kidnapped and killed because they wandered away from the group. They must learn to watch out for each other. If one person is drinking and misbehaving his friends should get him away from potential danger. They seriously have to be each other’s eyes and ears and must be bold enough to correct a teen who steps out of line. We should also encourage our teens to be courteous and civil to people they meet along the way. No unnecessary rowdy behavior should be tolerated. No bullying other teens, and they should know not to hide in a crowd and misbehave and do things they otherwise wouldn’t do.
4. Keep the channels of communication open.
When all is said and done, our teens should trust us enough to talk to us about what is going on in their lives. Always, make them feel comfortable when they are talking to you. Don’t be judgmental. They may sometimes tell you something that “a friend” is thinking of doing or ask your advice for a “friend.” Take the opportunity to ask non-threatening questions and be kind as you give advice because often times, that “friend” could very well be your own child, wanting to know your opinion. It’s sometimes helpful for your teen to have another trusted adult to talk to. It could be their friendly pediatrician, an aunt or uncle, an older sibling, a school counselor or a trusted family friend. Your teen may be able to talk openly to them about issues they may not feel as comfortable talking to you about.
As Spring Break approaches, I’m happy that our teens get some much needed rest and time away from their books. Find out your teens Spring Break plans, including where they are going and who they will be hanging out with. Talk to them about the dangers of drugs, drinking and driving and stranger danger. Yes, I know you’ve had this conversation with them a thousand times previously but trust me, one more time will not hurt. Remind them not to behave in a way that would embarrass them if the whole world was watching. Teens must watch out for each other and be accountable to each other. And of course, they must keep in touch with you.
Remember to always keep the channels of communication open. They must be comfortable coming to you, even if they are in trouble. And remember to add a good dose of prayer, for their protection, for traveling mercies, and for good behavior even as they go off to have fun and also for peace of mind for you.