What if most of your parenting life were just driving your child to practice or music lessons, nagging them about their grades or their homework, or resenting them for how much money they cost you? What if your entire life revolved around what you did for your kids and your job? It would be pretty hard to have amazing moments with your teen if that were the case.
With many parents of seniors realizing that they just posted their very last first day of school pics on Facebook, or even parents of middle-schoolers realizing that the years are flying by a little faster each time they take stock, you may feel the need to grasp the happy moments.
Sometimes memorable things need a little effort, but have no fear. They don’t always need huge amounts of time and money. Here’s three simple ways to get those memorable moments with your teens while you still can.
Don’t accept the first no.
When I told Amusing Artist and Song & Dance that I’d be taking them to the beach early one morning this vacation to do a little yoga and see the sunrise, there weren’t cheers of joy at first. “Will we have to wake up when it’s dark?” Newsflash, kid, in order to see a sunrise, you have to get out of bed before the sunrise. “We only have two yoga mats.” I shot this one down easily, as yoga on sand is almost easier on a beach towel than a mat. Just keep shooting down the waffling until they’re in the car.
Get them out of their comfort zone.
Doing yoga on the beach may not be their thing – yet. Nor may going to a poetry reading, an art museum, Comicon, a Lego festival, or a vegetarian restaurant, but how open-minded do you think your child will be as an adult if you only give them the experiences they want or need to have? It may seem inefficient to them – ‘my life is soccer, why are we going to this Van Gogh exhibit?’ but as their parent, your job isn’t to keep them in their comfort zone, it’s to broaden their horizons, to show them enough of the world to enter it.
Let them get to know you and your interests.
Families are at least supposed to be democracies – everyone gets a vote. They don’t start out that way, remember? If you did everything your three year old wanted, you’d be miserable and the toddler would be a spoiled brat. School, sports, childhood -basic parenting means that there is plenty of activity revolving around your kid. Let’s get drastic for a moment.
What if you suddenly died? An unpleasant image, sure, but would your teen be able to tell others about you? What your interests were? How much you loved not only your job, but volunteering at the library and your weird obsession with trying new kabob places? My mother loved gardening and took me to every garden center within a 15 mile radius. My father took me to every model train show and hobby shop in Connecticut growing up. Those were their interests, and while I don’t have model trains in my house and I’m not a terrific gardener, I had a great time with my parents and I knew who they were. Sometimes, quality time has to be on your terms. As an avid knitter and fan of sheep and rabbits, I take my kids to fiber festivals. Their dad took them to watch him sing karaoke and plays dungeons & dragons with them. Ask yourself what about yourself you can share with them.
It gets easier every time.
Sure, if your teens are the type who are baffled (or even annoyed) that you suddenly start taking them to things you’re interested in, it might feel like more effort than it’s worth. So do many parenting tasks, though, so don’t give up – you managed to wean them off the bottle and the pacifier, you can definitely get them to take that hike on the trail you’ve wanted to go on since they were two, but didn’t because, well, they were two, and two year olds make crappy hiking companions.
I’ve taken my teens to many places I want to go before, but this morning, I still had my doubts about waking them up before 6 to do yoga on the beach. But in the end, it was the most peaceful, bonding moment of the vacation, and my kids thanked me.
What amazing moment do you want to have with your teen?