Thoughtful Parenting: Summertime parenting

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As parents, we experience so many different stages in parenting children. There are likely mixed reviews about which stage is easier than another.

One thing is certain: Parenting a teenager comes with a set of challenges that can be heightened during the summer months.

Thoughtful Parenting: Youth Services

This weekly column about parenting issues is written by area youth-serving professionals. It publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

Summertime can be a difficult time for parents, especially when dealing with typical teenage behaviors such as rebellion, testing boundaries, wanting to be with friends all the time, exploring independence and experimenting.

Whether you’re a parent who works or stays at home, it’s daunting to think of the many hours of free time your teenagers have. From the time school is out until that much-anticipated first day of school, there is approximately 1,800 hours of free time.

Come midsummer, parents may feel inclined to send their teenager elsewhere, to coaches, teachers, mentors, neighbors or friends, because of feeling burnt out and not wanting to manage those typical behaviors.

Having someone else manage your teenager does not resolve anything — it only prolongs the inevitable.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when parenting a teenager during the summer months:

• Set up your expectations with your teenager to include curfew, acceptable activities, checking in and responsibilities at home. Be clear about consequences should rules be broken.

• Communicate and be engaged with your teenagers day to day. Know where your teenager is and who they are with. Get to know the parents of your child’s friends. Be in the know of what your teenager is doing. Being involved shows them you care about what they are doing, and it allows you to have input in what choices they are making during the day. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to monitor your teenager’s social media and cellphone activity, as well.

• Maintain a schedule within your household. Set up individual and family activities ahead of time and have ongoing discussions regarding plans. All children benefit from a schedule because they know what to expect and it provides structure. Remember, it’s always important to be flexible.

• Promote independence of your teenager. As a parent, you can accomplish this by encouraging them to manage more responsibilities, such as getting and maintaining a job, taking on leadership roles within the community and volunteering. Helping your teenager establish a healthy independence aligns with influencing a positive self-esteem.

• Be consistent in your parenting, expectations and engagement with your teenager. Maintaining a consistent parental role is important in maintaining a healthy relationship.

As parents, we have made it past the halfway mark, with the first day of school right around the corner.

We need to make the remainder of the summer special because, as everyone always says, “It goes by so fast.” Next thing we know, our teenager will be leaving our house and we will be missing those "typical teenage behaviors."

Camilla Haight is a case worker for Routt County Department of Human Services. The Routt County Department of Human Services Child Welfare Department is a member of the Routt County Youth Services Coalition whose website can be found at www.youthinroutt.org.

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