Summer signals change for the family. An extended break from the school routine creates the opportunity for new activities – even life-changing experiences for teens and their parents. Teens may be away from the family for extended time because of camps, service activities, summer jobs, or travel with relatives or friends. This is often a time when teens mature in those SPICE areas (spiritual, physical, intellectual, creatively and emotionally) because they are outside their comfort zone, meeting new people and challenging themselves.
Staying connected or strengthening your connection with your teen can happen as a result of finding times to share what is learned from those life changing summer experiences. And summer can also be a good time to create a few new and life changing experiences to share together as a family.
Ways to Stay Connected:
- If your child is going away for an extended time, volunteer to drive your child there or pick him/her up. If you’re picking up, stop for a meal and let your child share the highlights of the week with you while their phone battery is still un-charged and you’re not distracted by the rest of the family.
- If your child works late nights or has been away, have ice cream or their favorite snack ready when they get home. Sit at the table together and let them tell you about their experiences.
- Attend Mass together and go out for breakfast or dinner afterward to share what’s going on in each others’ lives. Or go home and cook breakfast or dinner together. Summer may also allow for establishing a weekday Mass routine.
- Make a lunch rendezvous. Even if you are still working at your job throughout the summer, you may be able to connect with your teen for a lunch date.
- Make at least one night a sacred family dinner night when no one schedules work, meetings, or other social activities. Take plenty of time at dinner to relax and catch up with each other about the experiences of the week.
- Find a game that you enjoyed as a child (like Monopoly, Sorry, Risk, Jenga) and teach your children how to play. Or work a 500 piece puzzle together. Lots of good conversations can happen during a game or over a puzzle.
- *Invite your teen to go along with you on an errand. If time allows, maybe you can stop for a refreshing drink or ice cream.
- *If you don’t already say bedtime prayers with your son or daughter, summer is a good time to start now that your teen is free of evening homework.
Create Your Own Connecting Experiences:
- Take on a summer family project. Organize family photos, plant a garden, clean out the garage and have a garage sale.
- Attend a ball game together or organize your own neighborhood family sports teams (tennis, baseball, badminton, croquet, volleyball, etc.) and have a tournament.
- Volunteer one week-end or one day a week at a local charity as a family. Need ideas? Call your parish office. Or volunteer to help with your parish’s Vacation Bible School.
- Find a festival, carnival, or show to enjoy together. These kinds of events usually open up one’s imagination to new creative ideas or creates time for fun and laughter.
- Take a day trip to a local pool, park, lake, or amusement park. Family fun times builds lasting memories.
- Encourage your teen to read the Teen Tips Page on this website. There are lots of good ideas there for your teen to initiate. Just be open!