Over the years – as the girls have gotten older I’ve tried to enable them to make more decisions. Sometimes those decisions are minor (what’s for lunch) and sometimes they are bigger (picking out a dress for a party). As they’ve gotten older I’ve worked hard to support their decisions – even when I disagreed. In that I hope they’ve learned about respecting change.
When the girls were younger – in a lot of ways life was simpler. I would pick the meal, pick the clothes or the bed time. As they’ve gotten older and become young women – those decisions have been ceded and sometimes with some effort I’ve been respecting change.
Heading into Thanksgiving week is always a mixed bag for me. Thanksgiving is actually one of the holidays I like. But it runs head long into the week when Risa passed. From there we jump into the holidays, and then the long days of winter.
The change cycle though seems to keep moving. And rather than fighting it, I think I’ve realized respecting change is just as important as realizing it’s out there.
So, 14.0 has given up softball after more than eight years to focus on tennis. Her decision to make. I respect that.
So, 16.5 declares her independence with authority. Her prerogative as teen for sure – and I respect that.
Respecting change is probably a healthy approach – but certainly not an easy plan to carry out. Day-to-day, with my eyes wide open I try to learn something new from my girls and day-to-day they make decisions – and I try to respect them.
As the annual winter break comes to an end for the girls, and we get ready to get back on schedule and do the long stretch (relatively long stretch) to the spring break – I look back at how surviving travel with teens and tweens this week.
There were five days off from school (Monday to Friday), add two weekends and it’s nine straight days off. We spend three night’s in hotels in two cities and five days on the road. This is not the first time I’ve traveled with my girls, but I realized during our ski trip to Lake Placid there are things I do in the name of surviving travel withe teens and tweens.
Normally, I don’t do lists and top fives etc, but if you are a single dad, traveling with girls in the teen and tween years – I feel your pain. So, here is the official Dad the Single Guy survival guide:
It goes almost without say, but bring your patience. Just because you are on the road doesn’t change anything. Chances are as far as your kids are concerned you are still wrong.
I’m not ready (financially or practically) to give the girls their own hotel room. So get two keys and set expectations. Respect privacy as best as possible and try to stay above the sibling fray.
Make as many decisions as possible. Don’t open everything from timing of events to meal choices up to a debate. It will only give you the chance to be a referee and you’ll never enjoy your time away.
When you decide to cede a decision be ready to support several choices. Try to allow creative decision-making. For breakfast before skiing I sent the girls into a store and told them to make a choice, knowing what the options were there were no bad choices, and they did not have to choose the same thing (although they did).
These kids are from the digital era, headphones go in and phones are always present. It’s not a slight, its part of life today. Accept it, and when you need attention ask them to disconnect. We have a rule in the house, if you are not making money with you phone there is no texting during meals. I enforce it equally.
Share as much time as you can. Remember this is still a family vacation, treat it as such and share the time and experiences.
Teens and tweens are very different. Where you can allow for those differences and respect them. Let the teen be a teen while allowing the tween her space as well.
Set expectations and keep your goals in reason. It’s their vacation too, let them relax and feel like they are getting away too.
Pay attention to what they pack. We were in Lake Placid and neither of my girls had the right boots to walk through snow and slush. And we had one emergency trip to a Rite Aid for a forgotten item.
Expect help. Don’t play servant. My kids have chores at home, on the road they have responsibilities to make sure we all enjoy.
I have no idea if the above works with boys, and no thoughts on if having two parents present makes a difference (my guess is probably not).
And remember, these are official for Dad the Single Guy only – your results may differ. It would kind of interesting to find out how you go about surviving travel with teens and tweens.