Summer means freedom; no more timetables or early mornings. No more teachers and parents checking homework or keeping an eye on bedtime clock. Finally kids can relax and catch up with all the things they and parents missed out on all term, and breath a sigh of relief from the commotion of modern life.
If you remember the time before mobile phones, internet and helicopter parenting, when summers meant adventures around the neighbourhood, or running wild in nearby parks or fields. Or when the only time you ‘checked in’ was by turning up starving and filthy at dinner time, then chances are your memories of summertime will differ from that of your teen.
With technologies keeping teens occupied and stationary, changes in parenting, busier and less communal neighbourhoods, and the apprehension of threat and worry, summertime and ‘freedom’ for your teens will guarantee a headache for you when the schools are out.
Younger teens can seem too old to be cared for at home by a minder if you're out working and are too young to work themselves . Older teens can enjoy jobs (if they can find one!) or mixing with friends, and the best part, getting away from their parents.
But in many families, with busy parents both working during the summer months, there is an inevitable period when your kids may be alone for a proportion of the day, and with that, a sinking feeling that your innocent darlings are most likely up to something dodgy.
Having trustworthy little angels who dare not upset their parents is unusual. Most of the time any kid will get up to some mischief if left alone for long enough. So what to do?
If your teen is mature, his/ her friends seem trustworthy and you’re confident that he or she will be okay for few hours alone then you shouldn't worry. Some younger teens can be more mature than some 18 year old school leavers! However, if your concern is real and you feel they need at least some supervision then it’s better to strike a balance with childcare.
How we trust are children greatly depends on how we understand their point of view. Even kids as young as 13 years will want to have their own version of freedom, and will expect certain trust from their folks.
It is important to let them have their downtime, and for them to be able to communicate how they would like to spend their free time. So how do we keep an eye on them while letting them have fun and develop their adolescent independence?
Writer Kate Homquist wrote for the Irish Times on summer teens and parent worry,citing the lack of state support for parents with kids between 13-15. However, she also wrote on the possible solutions, here are some of her tips: