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If you're a parent of a teenager (or teenagers), spring break can bring up some tough conversations. Even if your teen isn't planning to go to some far-off place, chances are they are looking for some independence. Depending on your kid's age, you may be facing the decision to give them more freedom. Every family is different, and you'll need God's guidance to determine what your child is ready for. Here are some tips to help you maneuver through this season:
When your teenager comes to you with their spring break ideas, compassion can make a huge difference in where the conversation leads. You might be tired or frustrated, but it won't help dynamics if you brush questions aside. For example, if your 15-year-old wants to go on a road trip with people you barely know, the easy answer would be, "No. You'll understand when you're older." While true to an extent, the problem with that line is that it conveys that you aren't willing to help your child understand now. Instead, what if you try to help them develop a plan that is appropriate and still interesting to them? At the end of the day, you are the parent of a teenager, which is often an unpredictable journey. Once you offer your support, you may still receive hostility, and that is the responsibility of the disappointed and angry teenager.
Maybe your teen wants to run off to somewhere like Cabo or Rocky Point to party, or maybe they're planning to just stay home and watch tv. Here are some alternative ideas that inspire growth and fun:Plan an event.Taking advantage of spring break doesn't have to mean leaving town. Your teen can use their free time to practice leadership in an area they enjoy. Whether it's fundraising for a cause or bringing people together for a competition or activity, event planning builds skills and can be an exciting way to share creativity.Participate in a group challenge.School can be exhausting, and it's usually hard for students to exert energy into anything beyond their regular extracurricular activities. Spring break is a good time to try something new or prioritize hobbies that usually get swept under the rug. From book clubs to outdoor adventure, there is probably a group nearby that interests your teen. And if not, they can try starting one! Encourage your teen to reach out to others with similar interests and come up with a daily challenge to do throughout the week. If your teen is on the younger side, you can ask them to plan with friends you already know or include a trusted adult in the group.Go on a family camping trip.For some, this idea may sound like a horror scene from a cheesy movie. As someone who has gone on many family camping trips, I will say that it has its horrors and its charms. If your teen isn't outdoorsy, forcing them into this type of trip is likely to only tempt more stress. However, if everyone is ready and willing, camping can be a great way to enjoy each other's company with no distractions. If you prefer "glamping," you can make it a unique experience by renting a themed Airbnb. (Imagine sleeping in this Hobbiton cottage!)Experience faith-based adventure.Mission trips are a popular suggestion for teens who want to spread their wings. There are a lot of opportunities out there for your teen to experience the power of serving while broadening their worldview. Check with your local church or organizations like Youth With a Mission. However, a faith-based trip doesn't have to be mission-focused. As much as we are called to serve others, we are also called to care for our relationship with God, including our emotional health. Organizations like Wilderness Trek offer faith-based trips that focus on spiritual growth, fun, and friendship. If you want to find something local, try searching for "faith-based trips for teens" in your area or check out YMCA programs near you.
If your teen is in college or living on their own, you are probably adjusting to the idea that they are making their own decisions now. If your teen is younger, you face the same uncertainty as you wade into that mindset. Either way, it's a stressful stage to be in. The best thing you can do is lead by example and encourage your teen to study what God says about decision-making.People like to tell parents that they should learn to trust their kids, but trust is easier said than done. No matter how mature they are, you will always feel the urge to pull your child away from the craziness of the world. The only true security you can find is in God. That doesn't mean God will keep your child from making bad decisions or getting hurt, but He knows more about their life than you ever will, and He has a plan.
"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." - James 1:5
Once you learn to embrace that trust, you can find rest for yourself. Make a habit of reading Psalms or practicing biblical mindfulness. Maybe you can plan a spring break for yourself! (Or you and your spouse if you have one) There are so many ways we can engage in the world, and the more we seek wisdom, the more we can go forth without anxiety.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.