Plan to prevent a boring teen summer
With the traditional school year about to end, summer beckons too many teenagers across the country. While long lazy non-structured days seem to be appealing, boredom often sets in rather quickly with the adolescent during the summer months. For parents of teenagers, summer often looms ahead with dread and foreboding.
Unlike their younger siblings who go to bed earlier, take naps and participate in cooperative play groups, the adolescent seems to desire a more complicated way of passing the afternoons and evenings (they usually like to sleep until noon, if allowed to do so).
The teenager who begins to feel the urge for independence and autonomy often thinks first of working during the summer months, especially if both parents work or if he is in a single parent family. But employment is often difficult to obtain as laws, liability, and insurance affect the teenager's status. They also have to compete with their older counterparts who are also seeking summer jobs.
Roaming the neighborhood at will, being turned loose at the local mall, dropped off for the day at the neighborhood swimming pool, or simply left at home to amuse themselves present potential pitfalls for the parents. So, what's the answer? Here are some suggestions that parents, adolescents, and those who have been reading this column have provided over the years.
• Start planning now. Brainstorm with your teenager, ask friends, and network with individuals in organizations which have activities which interest your child.
• It's great to consider volunteerism. Check with the director of volunteer services at healthcare facilities, nursing homes, museums, Parks and Recreation, and vacation Bible schools which are held in many churches during the summer months. Learning to serve others is a valuable lesson in this teenage stage of life.
• Look to the universities and community colleges for programs in the sciences, in art, music, and athletics. Tennis or swimming lessons are usually available at recreation centers. Seek preparatory, enrichment, or remedial programs which develop the child's artistic or creative talents or reinforce academic programs. Look at the programs offered by the local library and encourage the teenager to check out books for summer reading.
• Check with your organizations such as Boy/Girl Scouts, YMCA or YWCA which offer camps for the day or week. Many are quite reasonable in terms of cost and provide healthy activities.
• Visit family or friends in another city, experiencing and enjoying their lifestyle and routine. Grandparents are often enthusiastic about having a summer visit from their grandchildren when they are able to have time to plan in advance. The bond between a grandparent and adolescent if often very strong when this occurs.
• Planning a home project often catches the interest of teenagers as well as family picnics and cookouts that include some of their friends.
The key to a successful and rewarding summer for the adolescent is to keep a structure which will prevent boredom, but which is flexible enough to permit freedom. Usually, a variety of activities can be pieced together and more than fill the wonderful days of summer.
Copyright c 1995 Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D.