School’s out for summer, school’s out forever. Alice Cooper sang these words in 1972 as I, along with the crowd in Kalamazoo, MI shouted along with him, “School’s out for summer!” This song is the musical version of a thundering herd of teenagers crashing through the school’s front door and into the sunlit summer streets with the voice of freedom ringing in their ears. Get out of the way when the bell sounds for the last time. Summer’s here and there’s no more school. Yeeee…Haaaa!
You knew it was coming. It happens every year about this time. Your teen’s increasing levels of agitation and their chronic irritability as the grind themselves through the hell known as finals. Once finals are over, then millions of teenagers are released to the streets and running amok. Well, maybe not running amok. Teens love it. Parent…not so much.
Most parents shutter when they think of summer vacation. What will my teen be doing all day? “This year, my teen will not stay up all night and sleep all day. This year is going to be different. Parents may say this on the outside, but on the inside they are saying, “What am I going to do this year?” Relax! This is not your problem. It is not your job to structure your teen’s summer. It’s their job.
“Yeah, right!” you say. It’s all perspective. You can see summer vacation as a time to endure or a time to marvel at what your teen comes up with. Just like life, you need a plan. I don’t mean you planning your teen’s summer. I mean your teen planning their summer. Ask your teen this question, “What do you want to do this summer?” This is not a rhetorical question, it’s a legitimate inquiry.
This question is better asked in January than in June, but if you haven’t gotten around to asking until now, that’s OK, ask your teen anyway. Do they want to work? Do they want to pursue more knowledge on a subject they are passionate about? Do they want to improve their athletic skills? Do they want to volunteer to help people? Or, do they want to do nothing?
Now before you go all postal remember, your teen has traversed yet another year of academia and they have been looking forward to summer for a long time. Summer is “their time”. No more teachers, no more books. Most teens want to be active when school’s out. Many teens want to get a job, if jobs are available. Other teens want to take a class or volunteer and still others want to go to a training camp or play on a local sports league and yes, there are some teens who what to do nothing.
Nobody worries about the teens who have planned and organized their summer, but everyone worries about the teen whose summer plans are, well…nothing, no plan, nada, zero, zip, goose egg.
Here are 5 reasons why you needn’t worry about your idle teen:
- Teenagers are naturally curious creatures – Eventually, sitting around the house will lose its charm and your teen will become bored. They will then come to you whining and you can ask them, “What do you want to do?” You can go from there.
- Teenagers can be very helpful – Take full advantage of this opportunity and ask for their help with things like, vacuuming the carpets, mopping the floors, cutting the grass, washing the windows, running errands and any number of household tasks that your teen is more than capable of performing. This is good practice for them.
- Teenagers are social creatures – Make your house THE house to go to. This is easy, just have plenty of snacks on hand and serve them in small bowls. By doing this it will be necessary to intervene frequently. This way you get to know your teen’s friends and you will know what they are up to. Well, most of the time.
- Get to know your teen – With all that time on their hands you will have ample opportunity to get to know each other better. Sit down with your teen and chat. See what’s going on in their lives. Share stories. Don’t preach and don’t teach. This is summer. Maybe you need to remember what it was like when you were on summer vacation.
- Have faith in your teen – In your mind, visualize your teen growing, learning and expressing themselves in unique and creative ways every day. Treat your teen like the kid you know they are and they will astound you with their ingenuity, their resourcefulness and their fortitude. Keep this faith and you set them free.
Whatever you do this summer, don’t worry. Worry is the worst thing you can do for your teen. Excessive worry tells your teen that you lack faith in them, you don’t know them, you don’t trust them or their friends and they can’t do anything right. Take care of yourself this summer and your teen will be alright.
Click on the link if you want to hear a classic version of Alice Cooper’s Schools Out.
Thanks for visiting and hanging out for awhile.