Green and pleasant land; quality time; teenagers at home in the summer and all that…

I don’t know if the summer holiday in your household is any similar to mine?  I’m beginning to get that familiar feeling, that “the anticipation of the summer is sometimes better than the reality of the actual summer”. This is not about the weather in the UK at present, so I’ll do my best not to dwell too much on that. Considering June was all very sunny, we should know better not to expect our good fortune to carry onto July and August.  I am an optimist, and one of those people who try to pretend that the weather doesn’t matter. Of course it does, as the weather alters your mood, even when you try to ignore it. Anyway, it’s a green and pleasant land after all, and the rain certainly helps to keep it that way!

Back to the small matter of teenagers at home in the summer. On the one hand you can’t help thinking that the teenagers haven’t got too long now to leave the nest and fly away into the world, so you want to spend some so-called quality time with them – if there is such a thing. On the other hand, the idea of finding the fridge empty and so much mess in the kitchen all the time can be rather irritating and sometimes exhausting. One solution is to try and get them to do the at least some of the food shopping and   even the cooking. My advice on that is “don’t try this at home” and, if you have to, give them a list and do not give them your card.

I’m beginning to regret slightly my opposition to my 17-year-old getting a job. My wife is more sensible, as she had perhaps foreseen that the fact that the teenager is not working does not necessarily mean they will be spending their time in a productive way. Yes, relaxation is important and it’s good for the teenager to relax a bit, as that is the way to refresh and re-energise. I’m struggling to get both my son and daughter to buy into the idea of spending some of their summer on self-development and a little bit of revision in preparation for the next academic year.

My idea of productive use of time by youngsters is not all about doing schoolwork, as there is more to life. But one would have thought that if the teenager is not working or volunteering over the summer, at least he or she could be spending time learning a new skill or sport or getting involved in some sort of adventure. I don’t think we parents will ever win the battle against our teenagers spending too much time on their devices, but with my son and daughter, one slight compromise is see them cycling to the gym despite the weather, as opposed to asking for a lift all the time.

The other is to see my daughter being more creative in cooking basic food or just preparing food for herself, and what she makes usually looks rather sensible. That’s never been an issue with my son. In fact, it’s the other extreme, as he spends endless time cooking, and I can’t begin to comprehend how much time he spends making pizza.

One thing that I am learning fast is that bringing up teenagers is more of an art than science. It is putting my creativity and negotiation skills to test, but I’m someone who relishes a challenge and I’ll keep trying and we’ll see how it all pans out.

Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit on all sorts of things that teenagers could be doing over the summer to keep themselves productively engaged.  Please see below for links to some of my previous blogs on the issue of teenagers and their summer holidays.