How to keep the peace when vacationing with teens
(AFP) Vacations are times to kick back and relax, but getaways can also be a source of friction among families, friends or couples, as back-seat driving or paying restaurant bills cause tempers to fray.
Here are a few tips from Sonia Prades, a psychologist specialising in family relationships, on how to ensure a stress-free summer break. Today, Relaxnews looks at how to keep the peace when jetting off with teens in tow.
Lay down the limits
Setting off on an improvised trip with carefree plans to take things as they come may not be the best solution when vacationing with teenagers. In fact, it's better to talk to teens beforehand about what's in store, lay down the limits and make expectations clear (rules, timekeeping, pace, activities). This can help keep tempers calm once you arrive at your destination.
Stay put, but don't go remote
It can be hard to keep everyone happy with one specific kind of holiday, points out Sonia Prades. Renting a remote property may appeal to parents, but it'll be much less fun for teens, unless they bring a friend. However, at holiday villages and resorts, young people can meet others and socialise more easily. Try not to isolate teens and aim to stay put in destinations long enough for them to make friends.
Spend specific times together
Teens shouldn't be left entirely to their own devices, since "they need to feel that they have a place within the family," explains Sonia Prades. This place in the family can be created by sharing mealtimes or specific activities chosen together. "Instead of taking charge of all the meals, get your teenager involved by asking them to prepare pre-dinner drinks and snacks, for example."
Suggest activities, but don't go overboard
"Teens are sure to get grumpy if you force them to join you. They need to experience things by themselves, even on holiday." Parents should find a good balance between safety and freedom. By definition, at this age, teens are likely to frown on anything suggested by parents. "If they won't accept anything, you should impose your choice firmly without compromising your parenting," advises the specialist.
Give some pocket money
Pocket money is important as it gives teens a feeling of independence. "You can very well just give a small amount and only once a week," says Sonia Prades, "it isn't the amount that's important." In fact, giving too much pocket money is counter-productive and could lead to risky behaviour.
Set clear, coherent rules
According to Sonia Prades, inconsistent attitudes are common on holiday and can easily cause arguments. "Allowing a late night out then reproaching your teen for getting out of bed at midday isn't coherent. No one is suggesting letting teens go out every night, but rather adapting appropriately when it is allowed," explains the psychologist. The same goes for tablets and smartphones. Why should a teen switch off if adults are constantly glued to devices? It's best to have the same rules for everyone, with all devices put down at certain times of day (meals, activities, etc.). Plus, everyone can enjoy a video or a movie together rather than using individual devices.
Stay out of vacation romances
If there's one thing you really shouldn't do on vacation, it's pry into your teenager's love life. "You risk creating a feeling of shame, which can be very difficult for teens to handle," warns the specialist. Even if vacations are often the scene of first sexual encounters, parents should have broached the subject of safe sex well in advance. However, teens should be able to talk about their love life with parents if they want to, or have other adults to talk to if need be.