Reconnect with your teen this summer:

Making lasting memories through fun and simple activities

Parents, did you know that your teen actually wants to spend more time with you?  Yes, you heard me right.  Teenagers want to spend more time with their parents.  According to a survey compiled in 2010, by Family Circle, teens stated they wished their parents worked less so they could spend more time together.  Surprisingly, the parents were the ones who thought they spent a sufficient amount of time with their teens.  Apparently, parents are underestimating the amount of time a teenager desires to spend with them.  Take some time out of your hectic and busy schedules and plan some time with your teen.  It’s like putting money in the bank – you’ll never regret it. 

What can you and your teen do together?  Believe it or not, according to the above survey, teens say they just want to do simple things like take a walk together, share a meal, or just talk.  Building relationships with your teenager is easier than you think.  I have three teenagers of my own, ranging in ages from fifteen to eighteen.  I have a unique and special relationship with each of them.  I am their mother and authority figure first, and second I am their friend.  I treat each of them with respect, listening to their opinion and truly hearing what they have to say.  In return, they do the same for me.  In the middle ages, Philip Stanhope stated, “Many a man would rather you heard his story than granted his request.”  Just because you listen to what your children are saying doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.  Hear them out, and give a subtle suggestion of your own. 

During the last month of this school year, I decided that I wanted to spend more time with my teens.  With my oldest child graduating from high school and my second and third child not far behind, I wanted to make some lasting memories.  My children all have very busy schedules with jobs, friends and sports, so I knew it had to be activities that were close to home, and would take up less than a few hours time.  I decided to show them all of the interesting and amazing things that could be found within an hour drive from our home.   We scheduled four Fridays for some reconnection and memory making.

We saw an eagle’s nest, skipped rocks in the river, went horseback riding, and went gem mining.  We visited a wood carving shop, where we learned that the owner was taught to carve at the tender age of six and then taught his own sons around the same age. We went to a small hometown museum and learned that a man in our town was one of the most decorated veterans in the state of Indiana during World War II.  We visited a place called Red Wolf Sanctuary where we saw a bear eat a pack of fig newtons in less than sixty seconds.  There we came face to face with a red-tail hawk, and we all got to pet a baby fox.

It took very little effort on anyone’s part to make these simple memories and reconnect.  I am certain that my teens had as much fun as I did, by the laughter and conversations we shared.  Not to mention the fact that they were taking pictures on their phones so their friends could see all of the fun we were having together.

Everyone in our family likes the outdoors and animals, so I planned those types of outings.  Decide what it is that your child would enjoy.  Ask his or her opinion.  Then make plans and do something together.   Kids require much less than we as parents think.  Start today, to par down on the expectations of life, and go for simply spending time together as a family.   Isn’t it time to make the simple effort to connect with your teen and make some purely, magnificent memories? 

My top five suggestions for reconnecting and making memories with your teen:

  1. Turn off cell phones for the duration of the activity.  (Unless, of course, it is to take some pictures of all the fun you are having together.)
  2. Go to places near your hometown that you have never visited before.  This is a memory to be shared by the two of you. (Go online to get some ideas.)
  3. The simpler the better.  When you want to reconnect it is best to stay away from commercial and high traffic areas.  (You will get distracted easily in these places.  All attention should be on the child and making some lasting memories.)
  4. Play a game together.  (Preferably one that does not require electricity.)
  5. Listen to your child.  (This is probably the most important suggestion of all.) 

By following my lead and scheduling some time with your teen you are sure to reconnect and create some priceless and lasting memories this summer.

Laura Ann Huber is the author of The ABC’s of Parenting and The Life Planner. More information about her  family and the fun places they went, check out to:  www.laurahuber.com www.redwolf.org and www.metamoraindiana.com