How often have you heard the comment “teenagers aren’t like they used to be in our day” and the older my children and I get, the more I am inclined to agree (and wish for slower times!). As a parent, we hear about drugs, alcohol, violence, suicide, anger, depression, low self-esteem and as a consequence, we hope and pray that we have done enough to educate, and protect our children. The only rite of passage into adulthood apart from passing your driving test, getting your license and being able to vote, appears these days to be the annual migration north to schoolies week on the Gold Coast where they, our new adults, can now legally (if over 18) consume copious amounts of alcohol. How sad is that!!
In my teenage years….not that long ago really, boys wore jeans with a belt and girls only showed their ‘unpierced’ belly buttons at the beach. These days, boys wear their shorts without a belt and half hanging off and much to my nieces horror and the rolling of both their eyes, I can never help to comment on the lastest styles particularly the wearing of mid-rift jumpers in winter……but I then again, I never have been up with the fashions. The teenagers I know constantly are connected to a device, communicating with text messages or on Facebook via their mobile phones, laptop or tablet -frequently in a language that you would think is foreign 🙂 Whilst that is a sign of the times and the technology age, I can’t help but feel the real and personal connection with family (and to a certain extent friends) is getting a little lost.
When a child in our society enters their teenage years, one of the most turbulent periods in their lives, we place very little emphasis on the occasion. At the beginning of a child’s life parents often appoint a guardian, god-parent or significant adult to watch over the raising of their child or children. What better time then would there be to re-establish a deeper connection with one or both parents or an adult mentor, than at the beginning of their teenage years.
Michael Grose, an Australian parenting educator in one of his newsletters “Resilient Kids” at www.parentingideas.com.au suggests
“that as families become increasingly similar in this media age it is important to maintain those distinctive traditions and rituals that make each family special and signify a child’s significance within his primary social group – his family.”
Michael goes on to state that
“rituals are those unique family activities or celebrations that bring people together. Strong families build up their own rituals and traditions that help to define them and set them apart.”
My children are rapidly approaching this time – their teenage years and I would love them to remember this event as a significant milestone in the lives. It is at this time when they are not quite adults but neither are they a child that we should be celebrating their transformation into responsible and confident individuals.
If you would like to celebrate your child’s thirteenth birthday in a unique and special way or begin your own family traditions around these times – the teenage years, I would be happy to talk to you and provide you with some ideas.