First, I was going to recommend going somewhere and doing something with your teenager. Maybe you are overdue for a family vacation. As most children get older this holds less appeal for them than it does for you. Don't let that stop you from planning even a short outing. Time spent together doing something new is more often than not a positive think. Especially if it is not too long.
Since vacations can be expensive, I wondered what is a cheap and easy way to take a vacation. Then I thought about a walk. You could walk around your neighborhood with your teen and let them choose the path and distance. That is a cheap, relatively easy vacation from your home.
So, I went looking for an image of a family walk. All the pictures I found were were with younger children. My search for an image of a family walk with teen ended up with the pictures of the lions walking.
So, maybe the walk won't work so well. But do something with your teen. Don't let their protests stop you. The more they protest the more you need to do something you know they will like. I would like to think most parents can get their kid to walk around the block once. If you can't get your teen to do that or much of anything else, you might be ready to call a therapist or at least read my book or one of the other umpteen books on parenting. But see if you can't find something they will endure doing with you for a short time.
I suppose a lot of people enter these offices with a fair amount of trepidation. Principals yield a lot of power. Yet, what if you could be a fly on the wall and listen to what principals around the country are talking about? This is a blog written by Principals and Heads of School on a variety of topics that you might find of interest.
As children grow older some of the things they held dear when they were younger go by the wayside and some hold on. Many seniors in high school still have their blankie. As seniors get closer to graduating they often regress and want to snuggle up and watch an old movie together. I have always had a soft spot for Winnie the Pooh and still like to take it out now and then and read it. It is the best comfort food. Every now and then your teen will need some comforting. Those times it is best to withhold your usual criticisms and just be a loving parent.
It is not easy looking into the life of your teenager and getting a clear picture. Stanford University started am innovative and wide ranging program called Challenge Success. "Challenge Success partners with schools and families to provide kids with the academic, social, and emotional skills needed to succeed now and in the future." They train a lot of teachers and have helped a lot of parents and students navigate the teen years. You might want to check out their blog as there is a lot of useful information you can find there.
This is a picture of a classroom. Your child spends a lot of time in places that look like this (hopefully a little more up to date). It is not easy being a student. While your child probably will not want you to do this, don't let that stop you from visiting the school. Even if you have been there before see if you can set up a time to visit the school counselor and get a tour from a student around the school. You don't have to have much of an agenda aside from wanting to know how your student is doing and getting a feel for the place.
Where I work we have shadow days where some faculty spend the day paired up with a student and follow them throughout the day. Pretty uniformly faculty report exhaustion, degrees of boredom and a strong desire to try and improve the delivery system which slowly is happening. Sitting in classrooms for a good part of the day has not gotten any easier.
Some people spend a fair amount of time on trains. Others not so much. I am not going to promote taking your child on a train ride, but I am going to promote doing some transportation with your child. Young children are dependent on their parents for transportation. As your daughter and son make their way through their teen years they spend less and less time with you going from here to there. See if you can find a way to get your child to take a ride with you. On a train, in a car, on a plane, bus or boat.
Parents often feel they know less and less about the day-to-day of their child's life. Some teens tell their parents most of what is going on in their lives, but from where I sit that is the exception. Parents often want to know more about their child's life outside the home. If you do want to know more, call your school counselor and ask them if they could gather some feedback from your child’s teachers and anyone else that knows him or her well. Then meet with the counselor and talk things over. If you do not know your child’s friends parents let you child know you are going to reach out to them just to say hello and make contact. That may not going over all that well, so be empathic and yet make the calls. Introduce yourself, and let the other parents know you would welcome any observations and feedback they would care to give you about your child. Often your child presents themselves much differently outside the home. Thank them whatever they say and let your child know you made the call and share any positive feedback you may have heard.
I wouldn't really want to be one of these guys hammering away and seemingly making no progress. Of course, we all have moments that feel like this. Often they involve levels of frustration. Some time when life is not frustrating you, why don't you think of some work you and your child could do together. Most likely he/she won't want to do it, so don't make it a miserable job. Maybe a task that has potential to be enjoyable and productive. For instance, ask her/him to help you cook their favorite dinner and while you are doing it ask if they could put on some music that you both might enjoy.
If you don't do many projects together it would be best to make your initial efforts be something that can be accomplished in under an hour. Whenever you start new activities it increases the likelihood of a return engagement if you can make those first efforts successful.
I would be remiss if I did not encourage you to attend a concert with your child. Even if your child is entrenched in her/his teen years there is some musician out there that you can get tickets to see that your child will attend with you. Really. Don't take no for an answer. Let your child choose the performer and you get the tickets. Concerts are joyful activities and serve to bond. Just don't sing along too loudly.
Sadly, I don't think any of us are going to be doing any serious space travel. But, what once was the stuff of science fiction and futurists, will be the providence of our children’s children if not our children. Most of us don’t really closely follow the discoveries of astronomers and space explorers. We see occasional pictures of worlds we can barely comprehend and so don’t think that much about what our descendents will discover when they expand the parameters of our existence. In the meantime, invite, plead and do your best to encourage your child to accompany you to spend some time at an observatory or science museum or any place that concerns our relationship with the universe beyond earth.
To be honest I don't spend a lot of time cooking. I tend to focus more on the eating than the cooking. But, the best times I have had cooking have been when I have done it with my family. I want to encourage you to not only have meals together as often as possible, but to have everyone pitch in the creation of those meals and the clean up.
The guy endlessly riding the horse has very little to do with what this suggestion is about. But, I figured it might catch your eye and I have about five seconds to keep your attention. So, think about this. You may have memories of riding a horse, or learning how to tie your shoes or driving a car, dancing, singing or making a fool of yourself. Why not share some more of those stories that you have yet to tell to your partner, child or friends.