My recent post about 8 things you should stop doing for your teens this school year went wild around the web. Parents are weighing in and while majority agree with integrating life skills into their kids lives, others have dubbed me uninvolved, lazy and say they feel sorry for my kids.
One reader said, so what do you do exactly, if you aren’t doing these things for your kids? So glad you asked….
1. Laugh and enjoy life with them
Don’t get caught up in the to do list of the day. Make connective time with your kids a priority because you can’t get one second of this back. The worst thing that can happen to us is that we have regret when our kids head out the door at 18 and we realize that we didn’t take enough time to enjoy their childhood. Seize the simple moments.
Purposefully prioritize time to laugh and fit in carefree fun with the kids no matter how old and cool they get. Take breaks and vacations when and where you can to reconnect with your loved ones. Memories of time well spent together will sustain us when everyone dismantles in a few years.
When you have teenagers, you have to be strategic to score one on one time with them. Not so long ago, I could plan anything out of the ordinary and my kids would be game. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case. Most ideas I come up with are met with a blank stare and a “not happening, Mom.” I must be in tune with my kids passions if I want to have close relationship with them.
My sons love anything sport so I take them to various college or pro baseball and basketball games each season. Or I take them to a new restaurant because food is always an easy way to a guy’s heart. With my other kids, I may choose hikes, movies, local concerts, plays or shopping excursions that feed their soul and in turn, fuel our relationship.
3. Encourage them to advocate for themselves
Last year, a teacher forgot to input one of our son’s homework grades at the end of the quarter and it affected his final grade. The mistake had my son very upset. (He went from a high A to a low A, but to him it was close to the end of the world.) He talked with the teacher and she apologized, but said there was nothing that could be done because grades had already been finalized. My son continued to talk his frustration out at home, so I advised him to go to the principal if he felt so strongly about it. We then talked about forgiveness and letting this mistake go, which is what he ended up doing.
What I wasn’t going to do was get involved with the teacher, even though I believed he was right. It’s hard not to write that email when our child has been wronged, isn’t it? It takes major self control to step back sometimes. But my son needs opportunities to learn to work things out in his world without Mom swooping in for the rescue.
4. Gather for family meals
Our family dining table is a sacred space in our home. A lot of beautiful, and usually loud, bonding goes on around that table. I wrote that I no longer make weekday breakfasts or pack school lunches, but I cherish our dinnertime together.
Sharing regular meals as a family has been proven to be one of the most important things we can do in our homes. Connections are made during conversations over food. Typically, teens are spending less time with family and more time with peers, so family mealtime is an important time to be together.