Summer is here! You can feel it all around you! The temps are higher. The pools and beaches are open. School is officially out for everyone. I have to say, it’s definitely my most favorite time of year. I love the sense of relaxation that comes with the summer. Even though I work from home and it’s a struggle to balance it all in the summer with the kids home, there’s still a “chill” about the summer that I love.
With my children getting older and my oldest heading into high school (someone hold me!) in September, this summer is a little different for me. My oldest two sons (13 and 14) are craving more freedom and looking to do more with their friends. It’s a shift for me because usually they’re just at our pool club in the summer running around with their buddies, swimming, playing tennis, hanging out and checking in with me all day. Now? Well… now they’re asking to meet up with friends at our local shopping center and head to the beach with groups of buddies.
This. Is. All. New. For. Me.
If not now more than ever, it’s important for me to talk more and more with my kids about making healthy choices this summer. These healthy choices include getting enough sleep (they’re staying up later at night), eating healthy foods, staying hydrated in the hot sun, keeping themselves active during the summer with activities and sports, hanging around with good kids and not allowing any outside influences to impact them on the alcohol and drug front.
Now that my sons are truly in the middle school phase, these are choices that are extremely important for them to make on their own. Summertime is the best, but it also comes with lots of freedom for many kids. The vital key for me and my husband is to keep the communication open and the dialogue flowing between all of us. I don’t want them to feel that they don’t have anyone to turn to with questions or concerns. As uncomfortable as it can be to talk about with your kids, it’s a conversation and conversations that need to be had and frequently, too.
As you know I’ve been working with Responsibility.org and their incredible program for tweens (ages 9-13) called Ask, Listen Learn for the last 3 years. It’s something I have such a passion for in spreading awareness about because I think it’s so beneficial for parents and caregivers to be armed with information on helping their kids lead and live a healthy lifestyle and why that healthy lifestyle doesn’t include drinking underage.
As I’ve talked with more and more parents about this topic, a couple of things that always comes up is how to start these conversations and when to start these conversations. The one truth I’ve realized is that the earlier you start, the easier it will be for you. I started these conversations with my sons when they were 10 years old, in 5th grade. I felt that they were old enough to understand and still young enough (I was hoping) to not having it be an issue yet among kids they know. As kids get older – middle school and high school – it becomes a lot different.
Starting these conversations can be tough, so I love that with the Ask, Listen, Learn program they help you transition into these conversations. It was (and is) important for me for my kids to be prepared for this topic to come up with their friends and I don’t want them to feel pressured about it. There’s so much that our kids need to deal with on their own as they get older and I really want them to be armed with what to say and how to deal with any uncomfortable situations or experiences that might pop up for them. I really want them to know that underage drinking and drugs are not a healthy choice or a good decision to make.
This summer rely on the Ask, Listen, Learn site as a resource to help empower you with advice and tips on how to handle the questions that will inevitably come your way. Ask, Listen, Learn has resources for parents to talk with their kids about why drinking underage can have long-term and short-term consequences on a developing brain and body. Ask, Listen, Learn also has fun videos and games that may make breaking the ice a little easier.
We’re all in this together as parents. I firmly believe that we can help each other on this path, too. I know that it’s a discussion that my kids have felt comfortable talking to me about as they’ve gotten older because we started the conversation when they were younger. The summer is such a fun time for kids, let’s make sure it’s a healthy summer, too. Have those talks and be a “cool” parent in their eyes for caring, sharing and be there for them.
Happy summer everyone!