Question: Summer is here and I have a 15 year old son who will be left home alone. My husband and I both work to make ends meet. Is there any advice you can give on ways to keep my son busy, maybe learn something and stay OUT of trouble?
Answer: Great question. I am asked all the time if there is a place my son could go to stay out of trouble and maybe learn something. We do have PAL’s and Boys and Girls clubs, but they are mostly geared towards a little younger population. That answer is not from me, that answer is from kids I speak to all the time.
A good thing to get your son into is a golf program, bowling program or a boxing/martial arts program. Three very time consuming things that are good for the mind as well as the body. Go to any of the local golf courses and you can find a youth program and most bowling centers have a summer programs as well. If your son likes golf you will have a hard time getting him off the golf course. That is a good thing.
Normally a teenager starts working at 16. (Legally) Sadly, with the state of the economy even teenagers who want to work are having a tough time finding work. See if your child is an entrepreneur. Maybe cut lawns, weed gardens, help homeowners clean out their garages as a business. You might find he really likes that.
Take them on trips to nature preserves, baseball game, golf outings, swim classes, etc. By exposing a teenager to different things they might find what they want to do in life. I feel we are missing the boat with teenagers at a very vulnerable time in their lives. Lets be educators at home.
As a footnote, I always say a teenager can find trouble alone on a desert island if they are looking for it. You are definitely on the right track though, guiding your son in the right direction and staying pro-active.
If a teen is experiencing more than four of the following warning signs, they could be at risk and an intervention should be considered before the problem gets worse.
- Has the teen ever been suspended, expelled, been truant, or had their grades drop?
- Is the teen verbally abusive?
- Does the teen struggle with basic family rules and expectations?
- Does the parent have difficulty getting the teen to do basic household chores and homework?
- Has the teen had problems with the law?
- Does the parent have to pick their words carefully when speaking to the teen, so as not to elicit a verbal attack or even rage from them?
- Is the teen in danger of dropping out of high school?
- Does the teen associate with a suspect peer group?
- Has the teen lost interest in former productive activities, sports, hobbies, or childhood friends?
- Has the teen ever displayed any evidence of suicide?
- Does the teen seem depressed / withdrawn?
- Does the teen ever display violent behavior?
- Is the teen sexually promiscuous?
- Has the teen’s appearance or personal hygiene changed?
- Is the teen deceitful and manipulative?
- Has the teen been caught stealing money or personal items from their family?
- Is the teen severely lacking in motivation?
- Does the teen sometimes lie regarding their activities?
- Does the teen display outbursts of temper?
- Does the teen lack self-worth and self-esteem?
- Does the teen defy established rules regardless of the consequences?
- When trying to deal with the teen, do the parents feel powerless?
- Does the teen have a problem with authority?
- Do the parents suspect the teen is experimenting with drugs or alcohol?
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