As adults we have been conditioned by popular media, by our kids and by memories of our own youth to think that our kids' friends are vital to their happiness and enjoyment of life. For many kids and their parents, the thought of having time alone with just their family and no friends tagging along sounds like a nightmare. The funny thing though is that although friendships, in the long run and in the grander scheme of things, are really important at this age, time away from them is important, too.
In the middle school and early teen years our kids are working hard to figure out who they are and who they want to be. As much as they enjoy and love their friends, you may have noticed that they behave differently with them than they do when alone with your family. The family vacation and even the family day trip or outing is a vital time for families to reconnect and when done in the absence of friends, provides your child the opportunity to be your kid again - free from the fetters and pressures of being a "pre-teen" or a "teen". Free to do the activities that they enjoy without embarrassment or pressure. Free to be a kid again.
With the days of summer waning, I hope that you will find the time to take a day or two away to be alone with your family and connect with your kids. As important as peers are to them, you are still more important. As much as they want to spend time with their friends, they need to spend time with you.
Carrie Kozierok, BA, CPCC.
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