Summer is an exciting time for kids. It is the close to another school year with the start of sun, fun and friends. With an average of ten weeks of time on their hands it is a pivotal period. It is easy to perceive summer as relaxation and down time for our kids. As parents we can shuffle with what to do when we’re at work and they’re home. What you need to know is quite often, summer is a time for progression or regression with our kids. During middle school and high school years summer is when many chose to experiment with things they shouldn’t. This includes drugs, pornography and gambling via the cyber world. This is where we need to stress how important structure is in the summer for our kids. It’s SUPER important!
Summer and how our kids need structure…
The school year often will consist of ten overly structured months. We all need a break from the crazy, but a balance is critical. Excess down time is a huge factor in kids entering the route of poor decision making. I cannot tell you HOW MANY kids I’ve worked with who will reflect back to where their ‘issues’ started. A vast number respond with, “summer.” Aaaaaahhh!!!!
So here’s the deal, it is not too late to rock out some summer structure. Get in going on! You can do it! You might be thinking, “what does that look like?” Well, here goes:
- Job– from 13 on up kids can find a gig. When they work it will provide structure, responsibility and funds. Awesome! This may be yard work, babysitting or waiting tables. Be aware of how much money they are making. If direct deposit is an option, go with it. Having money that is unaccounted for is a big no-no.
Lack of accountability for money is a gate way to making poor decisions….
2. Volunteer – idle hands only set us up for poor decision making. Trust me. Get plugged into your church or synagogues outreach programs. If you’re not a member, network with your kids friends who may be. There are volunteer opportunities via animal shelters, habitat for humanity, homeless shelters, etc. Get them involved, centered and busy.
3. Counseling- if you have concerns for your young person (anxiety, depression, substance abuse, etc.) this is a PERFECT time to seek self help. I believe that at some point in life or another each of us can benefit from wise counsel. Being a teen is tough and then toss in family issues or mental health stuff and there’s a heap on their plate.
4. Limits with cell and computers- If you have not already done so, contact your internet and cell provider and place time restraints and parent mode on all settings. I can’t tell you how many parents have NO IDEA what their kids are doing online. If we have a buffet access to the world wide web not good things will happen. We have a growing issue with young people with access to things that manifest into porn or gambling addictions. Look at apps downloaded. Remember, knowledge is power!
Just my two cents….
Being a parent is legit tough stuff; ridiculously tough. Remind yourself that the boundaries and plans we initiate is for their benefit and WILL pay off. I see too many parents who maintain the closed eyes approach in parenting; reality is only what they see. Holy moly is this dangerous. If we opt for this or being friends with our kids it will have long term implications. I promise.
As June is at our doorstep re-evaluate how summer will be spent. Take some time to jot notes and expectations down. Sit down with your young person and present this in a positive manner instead of a punishment. The ten weeks plus will go quickly. Enjoy summer. Frolic (safely), enjoy family time and swim, hang with friends and bbq. Summer is nothing short of epic.
What we must keep in mind is our kids are well…kids. Their brains aren’t fully developed, they’re impulsive and susceptible to peer pressure. Have their back, love them and encourage a summer of goodness! Planning isn’t a bad thing and being aware of what they are doing fosters trust and eases anxiety.
Take a deep breath and know, you can do this! May your week be swift and the weekend be sunny!