Summertime seems to be that time of year when the common perception amongst many kids is: ultimate freedom. This perception sticks for some time, too, at least until adulthood or a regular job sets in. Think about it: There isn’t a school schedule to adhere to, there’s no homework to do, and no deadlines to meet. In many ways, summer can be the impetus for social free-for-alls: late nights, experimentation with alcohol and/or drugs. What can we do to preemptively halt the madness in its tracks?
We can start with providing some semblance of order in our kids’ lives. While school may provide the safety of confined activities and schedules that allow us to feel secure in knowing where our kids are, breaks from school can present a challenge for many of us. There’s no better time than the present to ensure that there is structure within the “freedom” of summer. Yes, that sounds like a bit of a contradiction, but we all must learn to create structure and boundaries amidst the chaos of life.
For college-bound kids, summer may have a different feel to it. It may be the last time they’ll see some of their friends for a while, especially if they’re off to different colleges. And in some ways, it may be a farewell to the freedom of childhood. College implies adulthood, and that last summer can be a humdinger.
We can start with some of these ideas:
- Have regular family dinners. Sitting down together several days a week is a wonderful way to get grounded in family.
- Check in with your kids. Do you know whom they’re spending time with? What they’re doing? Where they’re doing it? You should!
- Get to know your child’s friends … and their parents.
- Get involved. You can stay involved in your kids’ lives without being the quintessential helicopter parent.
- Support their recovery. For example, if they’re going to college, help them find meetings in the area or support groups they can attend. Maintaining those ties are important.
- Learn not to take things personally. While being involved is a good thing, we have to also learn when it’s okay to let go. Remember, adolescence is prime time for individuation and sometimes that means giving the parents the cold shoulder.
Ultimately, summer reminds me of time slowing down. It’s a respite from the chilly, short days of winter. Living so close to the beach, it’s prime time for witnessing sunsets and frolicking in the sea. Even if we’re working or just busy, we are truly blessed with these longer days and warmer light. Spending time with our loved ones is one more blessing we can’t pass by.