The Myths of Traveling with Teenagers
Traveling with teenagers can be a positive adventure. Despite popular opinion, traveling with a teenager can be a rewarding period of time filled with a lot of laughter and engaging, enlightening conversation. Travel with a teenager does not have to mean long periods of silence punctuated by the echo of the headphones slowly making your teenager hearing impaired. However, the expectation and accompanying attitude that you pack is most likely what your teenager will deliver in return.
We tend to believe that teenagers are highly self absorbed individuals that are pulling away from their families as fast as humanly possible because the one thing that they absolutely can not wait for is to turn into a full fledged grown up with full fledged rights (and responsibilities). This is only partly true. Travel with an adolescent is not only time for you to pull out of your everyday expectations, responsibilities, and endeavors, but it is also a chance for them to pull away from theirs as well. Growing up is not easy, and a little break from the life they are experiencing can be rewarding for both of you.
Do not Push, Stay Calm, Curb Forced Humor
Do not try to be funny. Yes, every teenager relates well to a little sarcastic humor, but do not try to be their friend and crack yourself up with some low down jumble-speak that you believe your adolescent will appreciate. Be yourself. Be a parent. Let them slowly open up during the course of the trip. If you are ramming your good time down their throat then chances are that you will be spending your good time alone or watching them try rather diligently to spoil it. If you relax and just bring up interesting points along the way, whether it is about the trip or life in general, and really listen to their responses during that four second break in between CD tracks, you will create solid ground from which to move forward as the trip does.
Teenagers know that parents tend to believe that they are generally irresponsible individuals. They know that you are praying that they are not having sex, doing drugs, drinking, or downloading horrifying material off the internet while simultaneously suspecting that they are when your back is turned. If you have not broken through the sound barrier for awhile, expect your teen to push a few buttons and rattle your chains. The more you take their behavior in stride the less they will push and the greater the chance for a real connection to occur.
Understand Music is Essential
For any teenager traveling with one or two parents in a car for any period of time there is an absolute need for them to zone off into their world and crank their music just a little louder than you want it. A great number of teenagers actually process life factors and experiences this way, and allowing them a little freedom in this department can help keep the waters smooth for connecting when the track is over.
Ask, Tell, and Listen
Ask your teenage real life questions. If you value their opinion, genuinely, you and your kid can have some pretty unique and in depth conversations that lead to a better understanding and more committed method of communication. Keep your responses tempered with the notion that you do not have to agree with them in order to love them, they have a right to their own thought processes, and if you really listen they will speak openly. You and your teenager are going to be trapped together for the duration of your trip. You can either bring along a great attitude and connect with each other or you can forget your great attitude at home and pretend that there is not a boat load of stress and tension marring your trip. When trapped with an adolescent, parental attitude is the key to success.