by Delorese Gregoire – Time; our time! Our teens want us at their canoe races and programs, soccer practices and games, and baseball practices; in the bleachers when they’re playing volleyball, football, and basketball; at their piano, band, flute, and ukulele recitals!
For the past 24 years I have consistently heard teenagers deplore the fact that their parents “were never there for them.” Now I want to shout it from lanais, mountains and rooftops: our kids need us to “be there” for them! My own experience with my son gave me an even greater passion to deliver this message. As a single mom running my own business, far too often I had to make choices between going to one of my son’s events and finishing up a contract, taking a group on a tour or meeting with a client. One day, at the supermarket, one of my son’s teachers congratulated me on his winning an award I didn’t even know he had won! When I asked my son why he hadn’t told me, he replied, “You would’ve been too busy to come anyway…” Gulp. My wake up call! After that, I changed – although coaching his soccer team when he was eight was probably more embarrassing than bonding!
What can we as busy parents, oftentimes with little help, do?
- Pay attention. Take time to ask our kids what’s happening for them and how are they “feeling”. Do it when they’re young; once they’re teenagers, forget it! (That’s another article…)
- Volunteer for field trips. It’s a fun time and our kids will be proud to show us off to their friends.
- Have sit down dinners, even if they are at fast food restaurants. Take time to spend time talking, sharing and laughing. Stanford University Studies showed that even one sit down meal a week helped strengthen families.
- Before leaving for work, the home office or studio, take time to say goodbye, “have a great day at school” and “I LOVE YOU.”
- If you own your own business, bring your kids to work to spend time with you. It’s your business – that is one of the few benefits of being the boss! Depending on their age, let them have their own little space for just their things: a shelf, a desk, a closet supplied with books, paper and crayons just for them. As they get older, start teaching them the trade!
- Once a week, take a two-hour lunch break and spend time with your husband or wife and the keiki. Once the kids are in school, maintain weekly luncheons as time together with your spouses. Make this a sacred time not to be neglected because “an important client is in town!” In Sweden, couples meet for lunch with their kids every day!
- Create family rituals and stick to them. When we take time to make church, temple or synagogue a weekly ritual, our teens will have something to fall back on in times of angst or despair.
- The most important relationship we have is that with our spouse. No matter how much we can give our kids monetarily, our being together is most important to them. Take time to work on that relationship every day. If you are already divorced, maintain a good working parenting duo and do not talk stink about each other ever: never, ever. Remember, your child is half of your former husband or wife – no ex’s!
- When your Teenager or pre teen leaves the house remember to say: Have Fun, Be Safe & We LOVE YOU!
The cost of living here in paradise forces most of us, (both of us!) to work, work, work! And it’s costing us our families. Mother nature also plays a trick on us: just when we’ve started to make it financially, our kids are teenagers and time away is all they want…just when at last we have time to “be there!”
Delorese Gregoire is the Founding Director of Winners’ Camp Foundation which produces Hawai’i Leadership Academy, a seven day training seminar for teenagers, parents and educators held during spring break and summer under Teen Camps Hawaii. This year Winners’ Camp Foundation is celebrating 24 years of producing leaders in our Island Communities. www.winnerscamp.com 808-306-8008 www.hawaiileadershipacademy.com firstname.lastname@example.org