The best summers are planned and organized
The summer has begun. This means that thousands of children are not in school and are doing things that they dreamt of doing during the school year. Summer vacation for children can be a productive time. But it can also be a time when poor habits are learned or when children get into trouble. It is imperative that parents take control of their children’s lives during summer vacation. Far too many parents are rigid during the school year but are slack during the holidays. Some parents feel badly if they provide structure or control during the vacation. This is counterproductive for growing children.
I encourage parents to seek to create a balance between down time and activity time during summer. It is good to have a few hours a day or during the week when the child does not have something structured to do. That can help them learn self-government. Parents should try to be involved as much as possible during the summer vacation. Laugh, play, work, study, chill-out, and talk with your children.
Summer vacation is also a great time to involve your children in the financial planning and structure of the home. Many parents are reluctant to let their children know of their personal finances. But research tells us that letting your children know of finances is a great teaching tool. Let them see the utility bills. Show them how to pay the bills, whether it is online or an actual drop off. Let them see how you decide what to purchase for food and how much spent. I also encourage parents to let their children see the family budget comparing expenses with income.
As far as possible, depending on the age of your children, require that they make some money during the summer to go toward their personal projects or personal items that you will not purchase. Insist that out of the 2,100 hours, they work at least 200 hours in a way that will bring an income.
Make it a point this summer to teach your children, boys and girls, a skill — cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, painting, etc. Girls and boys should be able to at least replace a button on a blouse or shirt, hem pants, wash clothes with and without the washing machine, iron, and make breakfast. Enroll them in one of the youth organizations such as Pathfinders, Scouts, Boys or Girls Brigade, Awana, etc.
Make it a goal to learn something new this summer. Let the entire family think of a project to do. It could be learning everything about a country, how something is made, mastering graphic design, making straw baskets, etc. A great idea is to teach the children the basic parts of the automobile engine (battery, carburetor, radiator, etc.) and how to change a tire, car oil, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. They can learn these things long before they are able to drive.
Have structured sleeping and television viewing hours. A big mistake parents make during the summer months is not to provide a structured environment for their children, even for the teenagers. Children should not be allowed to choose their own times to go to bed or watch any amount of television. Too many children develop bad habits during the summer months that impact them for the rest of their lives. Parents can decide to let their children go to bed a little later or watch a little more television than during the school year. However, it is important to maintain some kind of structure or control.
Some fun activities parents and children can do during the summer can include having a car wash, hike, swim a lot, organize a neighborhood party, make wholesome homemade non-dairy ice cream, toss water balloons, run through a sprinkler in the garden, sell lemonade in front of the house, or look at the stars. They can also swing so high that they think their feet will touch the sky; get dizzy on a tire swing, build a sand castle, crash a sandcastle, drink water from a hose, run around after dark decked out in glow bracelets, go to our local museums, ride bikes with friends, plant flowers, blow bubbles, jump rope, play hopscotch, learn to play rake and scrape.
Parents, enjoy being young and living the summer with young people. Summer can really be a productive, happy time. The best summers are planned and organized. Parents, your children will look back at those times with a special feeling of warmth in their hearts. Have a beautiful, hot, summer vacation.
- Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit: www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980.