Do you have any tips on traveling with teens — what are their needs, how do parents ensure they have fun and have an enriching experience?

1. Peer relationships are everything to a teenager. Friends are all-important. They replace the family, in some ways, as the place where daily relationships are played out. Have your teen take a friend along on your trip.

2. Teens will want to spend lots of time with their friends. Let them. Parents should offer loving help and encouragement at every turn; and never try to join their teen’s group of friends. And parents, if the friends are bad news, figure out why your teen wants to be their friend. You will get some insights into their inner life. Act on this.

3. The job (of both teen and parent) is to STAY CONNECTED. Keep in mind this practical advice for Teen-Parent Communication, when you are traveling together. Use this time to do the following:

  • The style of talking that is best is direct, straight, and clear. Don’t give unsolicited advice to your teen — EVER — unless your teen asks for it.
  • Listen, observe and don’t “talk at.”
  • Help teens let their feelings out — validate and don’t try to change them.
  • Stop the questions, the demands, and the inflexible rules.
  • Don’t schedule meetings with teens — talk with them on their terms.

4. Remember: teens need enough direction and control to guide them, yet enough room to let them breathe, learn, and discover. There must to be a balance between structure and flexibility. A strong disciplinary approach overlooks the need for growth and exploration during the teen years.

5. Teens are busy practicing a new way of thinking. (Jean Piaget called it “formal operational thought.”) At 16 or 17 years of age, teens have developed the ability to solve problems without the concrete, action-oriented experiences of a child. Teens are forming theories about everything—and testing them out. They make (...continue reading)