Connecting With Your Teen: How an Overnight Trip Changed Everything

On the shores of the Mediterranean, I tossed my shoes and got as close to the sea as I could for a good shot. When the waves crashed, I couldn’t move.

My feet were stuck in the muck of the wet sand and water pushed me back on my bum. I had a wet dress and dripping backside. It was a small marina in Barcelona where my teen daughter and I were strolling the shore headed to dinner while taking a break from the group of her eighth grade school trip. She was trying to help me up and we were both laughing. I would just have to eat in a damp dress.

This is just one of the memories the two of us have of that trip, along with the beautiful shot I managed to get. Despite the awkward teen years and the changes they bring, connecting with your teen can be accomplished and enjoyed. 

Teenagers can be a real pill, or at least require you to need one. They can be loving and fun Friday night then surly, mean, and incorrigible Saturday morning. This transition from child to adult, as miraculous and metamorphic as it is, requires love and guidance, and an incredible amount of patience.

From the research I’ve read and other parenting stories, my fifteen year old daughter is a typical teen. She has a circle of friends, good grades, school activities, and even listens to me sometimes. She is dramatic, emotional, and will sequester herself in her room all night listening to music and snap-chatting with her friends.

To keep the communication open between us, I ask her to join me for girl time, whether shopping, visiting friends, walking the dog, or slipping into Starbucks. One such outing, however, led to her sharing news from school and friends more candidly, even revealing a few things I’m not sure I wanted to know.

It was during a one-night mother/daughter trip that I learned more about her insecurities and some real worries that she had been carrying around. She was open with me and allowed me to share some of my experiences. Because there were no distractions from the day-to-day tasks, I was able to offer some advice. I told her a few things that had happened to me when I was her age. She could relate to the friend I thought I could trust, the group of mean girls from my high school, and the jealous girl who tried to sabotage a tryout I had. I told her that I was always available for her and that she could tell me anything. She was just as forthcoming in her communication on this mini-trip as she had been on the extended trip because the two of us had each other. 

Elizabeth Dardes
Elizabeth Dardes
Elizabeth has a MA in English and is a college educator living near the beach in South Carolina. A mom of two young adult sons and one teenage daughter, she often receives texts from her kids asking her where she is. Find her on Instagram where she posts her fledging travel photos.

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