Dear world: She’s not yours yet.
This adult-sized human is not yours for the taking.
I’m giving this teen permission to be a kid his summer.
Sure, she has a part-time job, and she’ll volunteer sometimes, and she needs to do a little bit of studying for what’s coming next.
But this summer, I will keep roasting s’mores and making lemonade and setting up movies in our backyard. I will encourage late-night games of Ghost-in-the-Graveyard and offer Popsicles every chance I get. We will bike to the farmer’s market and watch fireworks from the back of our car.
She doesn’t want to do these things all the time, but I’m going to keep trying. I won’t say no when she asks.
Because although I’m getting my kids ready for the world, the world shouldn’t take away their childhood yet.
I don’t want to spend all summer talking about colleges and career paths. I don’t want to miss making memories because we were so caught up in creating a future. I want them to be able to start breaking away without the pressure of having to be successful at it.
So, while the world pushes for super successful kids, pressuring children—and especially our teens—into pre-mature adults in an overly competitive landscape, I’m not letting the world take this summer from my kids.
Not after the last few years. Not after recent events. Just nope.
My three daughters have plenty of years ahead of them to face the tasks and challenges of adulthood. Childhood, especially for teenagers, is a time to learn to relate to your friends, how to be part of a family, find hobbies and interests you love, learn how to be an employee, and yes, even to play.
Yet, we push our kids to pursue academic and other competitive adult-like responsibilities even though their brains aren’t fully developed.
We end up with teens and young adults who develop stress-related mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and even physical ailments such as ulcers in certain situations. They look for outlets for their inner turmoil, like cutting, sabotaging their health with eating disorders, or other ways to self-harm.
They don’t know how to cope with disappointment or boredom or failure. They don’t know what makes them happy.
I don’t want to raise good-on-paper kids. I don’t want to spend this summer only building up their resumes. I don’t want them to spend their last childhood years trying to be an adult.
Instead, I want to keep filling up their hearts and fueling their passions and finding out what brings them joy. I want to build up their self-esteem so they won’t let the world push them down.
I want them to learn balance. That you can work hard, but you can also enjoy the little things. I want them to learn responsibility but also recognize when they need self-care. I want them to learn life skills–and that it’s okay to take a break when you need one. I want them to have some fun. I want to have some fun with them.
It’s OK to encourage our kids to chase their dreams and push their limits, but it shouldn’t be detrimental to their health or in place of developmentally-appropriate activities.
They are not too big to play, not too big to goof off, not too big to live out their childhood.
No, this does not mean I think my kids shouldn’t do chores or help out around the house. It doesn’t mean I don’t think they shouldn’t get a job or be on their phones all day. It doesn’t mean I think they should sleep until noon and play video games until dawn.
But give them permission to be kids for a little while longer whenever they take the opportunity.
Our teens are entitled to this part of their life, and I won’t be the one to take it away.
So, the only thing I want this teen to master this summer is how to love the beautiful person she is becoming.
And if they pick up their room every once in a while, well, that would be great too.
We love these ideas on how tweens and teens can have a fun AND productive summer. Here are a few local summer bucket list ideas:
Local summer bucket list ideas for teens and tweens can include:
- Baseball game (minor league games can be a ton of fun)
- Roller skating rink
- Drive-in movie theater
- Extra-long slip and slide
- Long bike ride to a picnic destination or farmer’s market
- Local festivals
- Canoeing/kayaking on local lake
- Farmer’s markets
- Mini golf
- Watching the sunset with a photoshoot
- Weekly smores nights with different packaging
- Outdoor movies
- Take photos together at all your favorite spots