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You’ve booked the condo and flight for that first week in April when a mass exodus occurs from your far-north town to the sunny Florida beaches. It’s time for spring break with your teen, and it’s almost as instinctive as a bird flying south for winter to pack up and go in order to escape the cold and grey.

Your enthusiasm for sun and sand is mixed with anxiety for navigating the choppy waters of parenting a teen. How does the entire family enjoy this time of vacationing without constant bickering and worry?

Hindsight is always better than foresight, as the cliché says, and since I’ve raised two teenagers, I have the privilege of sharing a few things that worked for us as well as things we learned the hard way. Hopefully as you consider a suggestion or two that I offer, you can prove the cliché wrong by entering spring break with the foresight to make the time memorable and fun for all. When going on spring break with your teen, here are some tips for negotiating freedom.

Going On Spring Break With Your Teen

When going on spring break with your teen, here are some tips for negotiating freedom and making your family vacation memorable and fun for all.

Have a discussion long before you leave about family expectations.

We learned the hard way: having the discussion on your way to spring break doesn’t allow your teen time to settle into parental expectations. Talking even before plans are made provides adequate think time for your teen to consider how family standards can be honored.

Be clear on the rules.

Kids sometimes think the family rules differ when everyone is away from home. On spring break, maybe you do want to allow a later curfew, but be clear on what curfew is, along with other rules that either stay the same or are slightly altered.

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Stick to the consequences.

Be clear that consequences will be enforced if rules are broken, but as a parent, never back down on the consequences. One of our kids could argue like an experienced defense attorney, but we continued to draw lines in the sand, and if those lines were crossed, we dealt the consequence no matter how strong the defense argument was. That way, the teen knew absolutely we meant business. Happily, the arguments got fewer and fewer as the teen saw our resolve.

Maintain constant contact.

Of course your teen wants some freedom, and you want to provide freedom. But for anyone, freedom rarely occurs outside zero responsibilities. Tell your teen he needs to let you know where he is at any and every point. If he’s going to the dance, he needs to be at that location. If something changes, he needs to let you know immediately.

Negotiating Freedom When Going On Spring Break With Your Teen

Nothing is worse than a situation unfolding where your child might be in danger. We actually experienced that fear on spring break. We were frantic because our child was not where we had agreed; plus, the child stayed gone longer than anticipated. Thankfully the child was safe, but none of us has forgotten the emotion of that experience. We decided in retrospect this rule was non-negotiable.

Build in family fun.

Spring break with your teen is a time not just for about them hanging out with friends; it’s also family time. Agree on evenings or even days when you will slip away as a family for a fun day together. Then, as a parent, be sure to make the day fun. This is a time for making a great family memory. Be happy you are with your teen, and show your teen you’re happy he/she is with you. Again, speaking from experience, we are very glad we imposed this stipulation; today, we share some great family memories about our spring break trips.

Someone recently shared their teen came home from spring break with a tattoo. I quipped a tattoo might be better than a prison record (which, by the way, none of our kids have; I simply offer the idea as a tongue-in-cheek perspective). Teens think just about everything is up for negotiating; make sure you’re clear with your teen that things like adhering to the law and remaining safe are not negotiable under any circumstances. If open discussions are taking place prior to spring break, everyone involved can relax and have a great time.

And hopefully your teen won’t come home with a tattoo.

When going on spring break with your teen, here are some tips for negotiating freedom and making your family vacation memorable and fun for all.

Tammy Tilley
Tammy Tilley
Tammy Tilley, mom of two adult children, cares deeply about parenting issues. Although she’s looking in the rearview mirror of her hands-on parenting days, once you’re a parent, you’re always a parent. She enjoys sharing a few memories and a touch of advice about spending energy on the things that matter. Tammy has a BA in English from Anderson University (IN) and a MS in Education from IUPUI.