Part of being able to survive high school with a teenager is also being able to survive summer break. At times this can be a difficult task. Common issues in regards to summer are teenagers sleeping in till two o'clock in the afternoon, summer school, summer jobs and teenagers wanting to party with their friends because they have worked so hard during the school year. Remember, as a parent of a teenager you are trying to help them to mature into young productive adults. Therefore, you always want to pick your battles carefully. In this blog, I will address how to cope with the most common issues parents face during the summer time with their teenagers.
Let's start with teenagers sleeping until two o'clock in the afternoon. Most teenagers believe there worked very hard during the school year and therefore they have the right to do whatever they want during their summer break. While most teenagers have worked very hard during the school year and do deserve time to relax sleeping until two o'clock in the afternoon is not realistic. The real world doesn't operate this way neither, can a teenager. Your teenager can still find time to relax and also try to be productive at the same time. It is your responsibility as parents to discuss with your teenager that while they do deserve time to relax, they need to use common sense in regards to how they are using their time
Point out to them that when you have time off you still have household chores and errands to do and you are unable to sleep until two o'clock in the afternoon. While you understand they are not adults nor are you asking them to act like adults you are asking them to realistically evaluate how they are spending their summer. You may need to help them identify activities they can do besides sleeping all day, such as volunteering at a nonprofit.
Another issue that is very important right now is summer school. Due to budget cuts school districts are no longer offering summer school as a leisure activity or as a way for students to take classes that they usually could not take during the school year. Summer school now is offered only to those students who are in danger of not being able to graduate from high school due to poor grades or lack of credits. Therefore, if your teenager is being requested to take summer school it is no longer an option it is a necessity if the teenager wants to graduate with their class. Your teenager may not like this option. However, as the parents you need to point out to your teenager that they are being required to take summer school due to choices they made during the school year. You may also want to encourage your teenager to use this as a learning experience. It would be helpful to point out to your teenager that their choices and actions have consequences and summer school is one of those consequences.
Another common issue in the summertime is the summer job. Many parents would like their teenager to get a summer job in order to learn how to manage money and to manage responsibility. This is an excellent idea. However, given the state of our economy this may not be an option for many teenagers. There are many adults currently out of work and these adults are taking a number of the jobs that teenagers usually would apply for during the summer. Therefore, while this is an excellent idea unfortunately it may not be realistic given our economy. I would suggest that you encourage your teenagers to try and apply for jobs because even applying is good experience. If they are unable to find a summer job they may want to consider volunteering at a nonprofit organization. At a nonprofit, teenagers still can learn the lesson of being responsible and may also be able to learn some lessons regarding managing money.
Finally our last issue, partying with friends. Unfortunately many teenagers feel that they know a great deal about alcohol and drugs when in reality they know very little. Also unfortunately many teenagers feel that in order to have a good time and to relax from all their schoolwork that they need to use alcohol and drugs. Needless to say, this can be very dangerous. Throughout the summer I will receive several phone calls from the emergency room and the calls will be from parents informing me that the teenager is in the hospital for alcohol poisoning. Many teenagers are not aware that even though they may look like an adult that their bodies do not function like adults and therefore cannot process alcohol like an adult. As the parents it is imperative that you sit down with you teenager and discuss alcohol and drugs and discuss options for how they can handle situations when they are faced with alcohol and/or drugs.
Also regarding drugs, there are some new drugs on the streets that are very easy for teenagers to get and these drugs are also very deadly. Some of the new drugs are called Bath salts, spice and Fizz. Bath salts can be purchased in a health food store, spice is similar to marijuana however you never know exactly what is in it and by the time an emergency room doctor figures it out it may be too late. Finally Fizz is a manufactured drug that is similar to methamphetamine and often kills the first time someone tries it. Please do not wait for your teenager to experiment or to become a victim of one or more of these new drugs. Please sit down and discuss with them what they are doing and the risks they are taking. It is very important to remember, if you want your teenager to be honest with you about what they are doing you cannot punish them for telling you the truth. If they tell you the truth, talk with your teenager about how the two of you can handle the issue so you are not faced with the task of planning your child's funeral. Also in this discussion please discuss how they can have a good time with their friends without alcohol or drugs. Finally remind them that if their friends are really true friends, their friends will not force them to use alcohol or drugs if they say no. A true friend will never lead you into danger.
This is a brief overview of some of the issues that parents have to deal with during the summer with their teenagers. Also I understand that some of these issues are very scary however as the parent it is important that regardless of how afraid you may be about what you may hear that address these issues with your teenager. If you have additional questions regarding these issues or how to handle these issues or other issues related to your teenagers please feel free to e-mail me at DrMike@RCS-CA.com.