Guide to Teens

by Sami

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As a mom of two teenagers, I wanted to compile all my best advice in this guide to teens. Whether you’re looking for help parenting teens or need insights on traveling with teenagers, I’m excited to pass my experiences on to you.

Guide to Teens

Traveling with Teens

Traveling with teens looks different than traveling with younger kids. Not only do you need to research locations differently, there are different questions you should be asking your teenagers.

My biggest advice is to never assume anything. Just because they enjoyed something last year doesn’t mean they’ll like the same trip this year. I’ve also learned I don’t need to schedule as much on my trips with teens.

If you’re planning to travel with teenagers, consider one of these options:

  1. Myrtle Beach with Teenagers: Consider traveling during Fall Break when crowds are low but the weather is still good.
  2. Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort & Spa: Conveniently located to so many of South Florida’s most popular destinations, this oceanfront resort offers incredible amenities for adults with amazing activities for teens.
  3. Disney Cruise: Even if you think your kids are too old for Disney (trust me, they aren’t!), a Disney Cruise is the perfect solution. You still get the Disney service & magic you’ve come to expect plus your teens get more freedom, plus their own clubs and places to hangout.

Life Skills for Teens

There are certain things every teen should know how to do before they leave home. While some are obvious and can be picked up just by observing others, obvious need to be taught more overtly.

Things to teach your teens before they leave home:

  1. How to Pump Gas: Everything parents need to teach their teens about how to pump gas AND save money at the pump (plus when you should never stop for gas).
  2. How to Cook: My teen son loves to cook and actually started by learning recipes from social media. He actually demonstrated his shrimp scampi recipe on The Sami Cone Show.

Parenting Teens in a Pandemic

I get it, parenting teens in a pandemic takes an entirely new skill set. That’s why I came up with 70 things for teens to do while stuck at home. From educational to outdoor activities, this list will keep you and your teen busy. Plus, many of these activities can be done together as a family.

Things for Teens to do While Stuck at Home

Making Your Teens Try New Things

Speaking of activities for your teens, this is a time of life where things can get hectic (especially if your teens cannot drive themselves yet). While some teens may be narrowing down their passions and skills, others may still be exploring options.

While I didn’t want to spend my kids’ teenage years in a car all day every day, I did encourage them to try new things. After all, if they don’t try them now, they’re likely not going to start once they get to college.

I also made it clear I didn’t expect them to be the best. Most of the time, I just wanted them to experience the try-out. Other times, I knew they had more talent than they could see in themselves. Either way, the experience almost always turned out to be valuable in more ways than one, even if they decided to quit in the end.

Shopping with Teens

Many teens love to shop, though what they love to shop for differs greatly. My daughter is always looking for new clothes and jewelry while the only thing I can get my son to shop for is new sneakers.

Thankfully, my teen daughter has learned to love shopping at Goodwill and upcycling with her friends. We definitely don’t always agree on outfits, but she is starting to learn how to find things we can both agree on while still expressing her individual style.

What has really helped curb my daughter’s shopping while giving her more awareness about money is making her get a job. Both her and my son work at Chick-Fil-A (they are one of the few places that hire 14-year-olds). While she pushed back at first, she’s already gained amazing skills.

kariss-macys-prom-dress

Now she knows that I’ll buy her basics every year (like a new pair of shoes or jeans if she grows out of them), but if she wants yet another necklace or pair of sunglasses, that’s on her own dime.

One area we’ve had to navigate a few bumps in the road is when it comes to special occasion dresses. That’s why I put together my guide for how to find modest prom dresses your teen will love.

I also put together this last-minute gift guide for teens that can help you when you’re at a loss for what to buy for the holidays or their birthday.

Teens & Dating

I once feared my teens dating. Now I find myself wanting to walk through this season while they’re still under my roof.

I also was surprised to learn my teens had their own fears about dating. I had an honest conversation with my daughter about this topic and you can watch it over on Rooted Family.

Helping Your Teens Grow in Their Faith

I grew up in a religiously mixed home. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I came to know Jesus.

Even as a Christian, I still embrace many aspects of the Jewish faith of my father’s side of the family. This has taught me the importance of facilitating faith conversations in my own kids. While religion isn’t always a priority for teenagers, it’s the perfect time to model your own faith while allowing them to ask honest questions.

One of the most important decisions I made was to read through a One Year Bible in the year leading up to my kids turning 13. Every day, I’d write down specific prayers for that child. I also made note of important milestones along the way. I then gifted the Bible to them on their 13th birthday.

Teen Bibles

Here are the Bibles I used:
Bible for Teen Guys: While this isn’t a One Year Bible, I printed out the free schedule online and just wrote in the dates as I worked through the entire Bible in a year.

I’ve also recently come across a similar NIV Bible for Teen Girls:

NIV Once a Day Bible for Women: This Bible has an annual reading plan built into it, along with devotional thoughts specific to women.

Redecorating Your Teen’s Room (on a Budget)

It should come as no surprise that as your kids get older, they’ll want to change their rooms as well. Yes, I was sad when my kids were ready to get rid of their stuffed animals and superhero posters. But I also enjoyed helping them develop their own sense of style.

My daughter had a very specific vision for what she wanted her room to look like. Although, her taste seems to change about every 6 months, so it’s important to keep the basic palette of the room neutral.

at-home-room

My son went through a phase where just about everything in his room seemed to revolve around the Union Jack (his name is Britton, after all). But once he got to high school, he took down most of the pictures, posters and pillows and replaced them with shoe displays and jerseys from his favorite teams.

I documented how to redecorate your teen’s room on a budget with just a few simple steps. They key is asking them what’s most important to them. Spend the majority of your budget there and then try to supplement with other things you already own or can find inexpensively somewhere like Goodwill or through an online marketplace.

Sweet 16 Birthday Party Idea

Like I discussed with our kids’ rooms, birthday parties look a lot different when our kids become teens.

One of the best ways to celebrate teens’ birthdays is to forego a large party and have your teenager choose a friend or two for a special trip or activity. For example, we took my daughter and three of her best friends to Opryland for a hotel birthday party.

They hung out at SoundWaves all day and explored the hotel and watched movies at night. It was a win-win for everyone.

Eliminating Entitlement in Teens

One of the main reasons for writing my first book, Raising Uncommon Kids, was to help raise more compassionate children. I spoke on Talk of the Town about tips for eliminating entitlement in teens that can be used for kids of just about any age.

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