Motherly advice takes on a whole new resonance during the teenage years but never more so than when a parent-free holiday looms on the horizon.
I have written before about teenagers holidaying abroad and the fear that strikes at the heart of every mother, but just as going to your first party or to a festival is a landmark moment, going away without your parents is an inevitable milestone on life’s journey. However traumatic an experience it might be for us, it is one of the most exciting for a teenager and as parents preparing our children for the road ahead, cope with it we must.
Our eldest has clocked up several trips away with friends now, both home and abroad, yet despite my best efforts they still remain one of the most nerve-wracking moments in my annual calendar.
The general rule of thumb when giving motherly advice to teenagers is not to preach or nag but to talk to them as adults, explain your concerns and encourage them to think about what they might do in certain situations. My teenagers are used to this with me now and whilst there is always some eye-rolling and glazed expressions they would not dare refuse me my soapbox moment.
To be honest I doubt there is a teenager the world over that actually really listens let alone engages in considering their response in the “worst case scenario”. They are far more focused on the end prize of being free from irritating parental constraints.
The reality is that motherly advice and the giving of it serves the much greater purpose of making us the mothers feel better.
I know I for one feel an almost inner calm if I have dispensed my pearls of wisdom garnered from my experience not only as a mother to teenagers but as someone who has faced firsthand a variety of scenarios during my own youthful travel adventures.
Experience of course counts for a lot, not only our own but theirs too. Each holiday is different and comes with its own set of challenges and as they complete each one there is no doubt they return wiser and more self-aware, if a bit bruised and battered around the edges. These trips enable them to learn on a basic level not only how to cope alone without daily parental prompting but also how to respond to a variety of situations unprotected and to learn from the mistakes they have made – or at least that is the hope.
So what is the best motherly advice for teenagers holidaying alone? Well my own has adapted over the years in response to their experiences and those of their friends and forever grateful for fresh insights from others I have compiled a list of the top advice with contributions from fellow bloggers and instagrammers who parent teenagers.
- Don’t spend all your money on the first day. Give yourself a daily budget and try to stick to it.
- Only take out the money you need or you will spend too much.
- Stick together and never let one person go off on their own.
- Make sure your phone is fully charged at all times in case of an emergency.
- Have all the important contact numbers on your phone i.e your bank, the local hospital, your travel insurer.
- Remember your EHIC card.
- Look after your passport and don’t take it out with you for ID.
- Don’t drink too much and lose control, that’s when things go wrong.
- Keep an eye on your drink. Don’t put it down and leave it unattended.
- No tattoos or piercings.
- Practise safe sex at all times.
- Drink plenty of water and use sun-cream.
- Eat properly not just junk food.
- Beware of pickpockets in crowded areas, drunk teenagers are an easy target.
- Don’t get involved with any fights – just walk away.
- Keep in touch.
There is little point sending your teenagers off wearing rose-tinted spectacles. It is rare that everything goes exactly according to plan every time or that they will behave 100% in the way that you hope but whilst we can all pray that the sense they generally demonstrate at home isn’t suddenly abandoned at the first glimpse of freedom, there is no doubt that forewarned is forearmed, if only so that we can say “I told you so.”
Editor’s Note : With thanks to all those who contributed and shared their own pieces of motherly advice : Nancy @ Map and Family, Lisa @ Glowology, Suzanne @ Expat Life With Chicken Ruby, Liberty @ Liberty on the Lighter Side, Kate @ mother.of.teenagers