Summer Time with Teens and Tweens    By: Lois Breit

Summer has begun and your teens and tweens are at home, but you are not!  This season adds stress to all working mothers.  When your tween has out-grown child care, your fear-mometer levels reach record highs!  It is never easy to leave our children home alone … did I really just say “Home Alone”?

The older our kids get, the harder supervision becomes.  We seem to be in a continuous balancing act of letting go, and hanging on.  However, this summer you can be a little more in control and proactive by giving your teen some challenging choices, rather than frustrate them with your fears.  Choices always work better than mandates for teens – but you can mandate they make a choice.  Teens tend to listen and ‘obey’ better when they are not held too tightly.  Here are a few suggestions to help your teen make good productive choices for their summer.

Teens:  Let them choose to either get a summer job or volunteer in the community (a senior home, youth program, coaching assistant for summer leagues, umpire, etc).  Maybe this summer offers a good opportunity for them to pursue a passion or hobby by assisting/volunteering in an art class, mechanics garage, newspaper office, flower shop, etc.  They may or may not get paid, but they will be busy, learn new responsibilities and skills, and mature over the summer.

Tweens:  Encourage them to be involved in summer activities (volunteer for neighborhood Vacation Bible Schools, help shop for or read to an elderly or ill neighbor or relative), direct them to good books that will interest them and broaden their world or cultural views (fun books, they will enjoy), arrange outings and activities with trusted friends, neighbors or relatives.  Be creative moms, it takes work to plan good summer choices for your kids.

Both:  If they don’t have a job or a place they need to be, let them sleep-in, this will take up half of their unsupervised day!  They need their sleep; studies have shown 11-18 year olds require about 9.5-10 hours of sleep at night.  Encourage them to learn a new language over the summer and then for fun take them to restaurants or shops where they can hear or practice their new language.  A language program like Rosetta Stone is expensive, but it’s so much cheaper than daycare has been.  If you’re taking a summer vacation, let your teen research the history of the places you’ll be visiting or help plan some of the sight seeing options.  Sign them up for a summer camp (if you receive any form of government assistance, many cities offer camp scholarship programs, ask your social worker for details).  Help your teen develop decision making skills this summer rather than let another summer ‘just happen’.

Teens don’t need to be busy and scheduled every minute of every day, but too much idle time causes temptation for all of us.  Let them know you trust them, but also use wisdom.  If it’s possible, leave work early or make a middle of the day surprise visit to see what they are up to.  Let them know you will be tracking their web browsing and texting history – remind them trust is built by their wise choices.  

Moms, by taking a few well-planned steps, your fears and stress levels can be lowered several degrees.  

    Ephesians 6:1-4 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  Honor your father and mother, which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.  Fathers (parents), do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

Stay positive, use wisdom, and trust God as you teach and train your teens to become strong responsible adults this summer.  Then watch your fear-mometer levels drop!