How to Help Teens Deal with Grief

How to Help Teens Deal with Grief

How to Help Teens Deal with Grief


This is a guest post by Sarah R. Ward of


Working through grief is not easy for anyone, but teens can experience situations that adults do not in their grieving process. Sara R. Ward lost her father as a teenager and has a unique perspective on what it feels like to grieve as a teenager. She offers 3 Suggestions for How to Help Teens Deal with Grief in this guest post.

How to Help Teens Deal With Grief


I lost my father when I was sixteen years old. When I went back to school after the funeral, I remember everyone treated me like nothing had happened and my life had not been turned upside down. It was their attempt at making things normal for me. My friends all knew my father had died, but everyone avoided the subject. I found myself caught in the conflict between wanting life to be normal again and realizing it never could be.

In the months that followed, only two people brought up my father’s death. One was my high school English teacher, right before he read a poem about death in front of the class.

“Are you going to be okay with this poem?” he asked me in front of the class. He sat at his desk, book open, ready to read. “Because if you’re not going to be okay, you can leave the classroom.”

I could feel the class staring at me, trying to figure out if a poem about death would undo me. It didn’t feel like an invitation, it felt like an interrogation. I bristled in my seat, under the weight of the elephant in the room.

“I’m okay,” I replied, feeling embarrassment creep up my skin.

Everyone turned to the poem as the teacher began reading, but I could only think about his question: Are you going to be okay?

The teacher, trying to be sensitive, had given me permission to leave. But in the moment, it felt anything but sensitive; instead, it felt like my grief was an awkward interruption, the thing everyone wanted to avoid talking about.

People wanted me to be okay. I wanted to be okay. But I did’t know how to talk about being okay and I certainly didn’t want to talk about it in front of my high school English class.

At the same time, I wanted someone to ask me how I felt, to sit with me through the ugly stuff, and not ask me to leave.

I wanted them to tell me, it’s okay to not be okay. And I wanted them to mean it.


3 Ways to Help Teens Deal with Loss


So how do we help teens navigate grief and loss in their lives? How do we help reassure them that it’s okay to not be okay?

Whether it’s facing a tragic event or the loss of a loved one, teens learn to navigate grief the way all of us do—by living through it and learning from the experience. Though teens may appear to handle it like an adult, they still need our help to understand what is healthy grieving and what is not.

While there’s not one right approach for healthy grieving, here are three important ways you can offer support for a teen who is dealing with loss.


  1. Recognize it’s normal for teens to experience a wide range of emotions.


Teens may be moody, angry, or anxious in the months and years following a loss. Like adults, different emotions are part of the grieving process and are considered normal responses to grief (with the exception of self-destructive behaviors). Since most teens have not dealt with a significant loss before, they may need help processing their feelings. Encourage open lines of communication and validate their feelings. When you reach out to them, follow their lead and allow them to express emotions as they feel comfortable.

Some teens have trouble sharing their feelings and mask their true emotions. In these cases, journaling or seeing a counselor can be positive ways to share thoughts that teens would have difficulty expressing otherwise.


  1. Be a companion on the grief journey.

Companioning someone means walking beside them through their grief. It involves listening to their thoughts and acknowledging that they feel sad. Avoid offering pat answers like, “You’ll be okay” or “It’s not that bad.” These kinds of responses minimize their feelings and close the door to more communication. Acknowledge that grief takes years and be patient with them as they navigate this journey. Companioning them is the best way to offer support through their loss.


  1. Work through the big questions with them.


Teens who’ve experienced a dramatic change in their lives begin to ask questions like “How could this happen?” and “Why me?”  

Although not all youth are ready to handle deep questions, some need to struggle with issues of life and death before they can find peace. Look at this opportunity as a continuing conversation about beliefs, heaven, suffering, and faith. Talk about people in the Bible who have suffered, including the story of a man named Job. Allow teens to talk through how they responded to suffering as you help guide them toward truth.


For teens, walking through grief may lead to a better understanding of their identity and what matters in life. As they work through their feelings, they will develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their faith. They’ll discover that in the end, it’s okay to not be okay.  


Sara R. Ward teaches women how to find more hope and faith in their lives after loss and grief. She is a pastor’s wife and a mom to three children (one in heaven) and writes about adoption, grief, faith, and motherhood. You can find out more at or follow her on Facebook or Instagram.

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What to do if your College Student has a Medical Emergency

What to do if your College Student has a Medical Emergency

What to do if your College Student has a Medical Emergency


It's a parent's worst nightmare. A call from your child (or worse, a call from someone else) explaining symptoms or injury requiring immediate medical attention. Preparing ahead of time and having a few things at your fingertips  (like a HIPPA authorization form) will help you stay calm if your College Student has a Medical Emergency.

We received this kind of phone call from our son about 2 years ago. It was 3:30 in the morning and he had awakened with shaking chills, fever, and terrible lower abdominal pain. Less than an hour later he had been diagnosed with an appendicitis and my husband was on the road for the six hour drive to be with him.

What to Do if Your College Student has a Medical Emergency


Here are some steps to preparing for and handling, in the moment, a medical emergency involving your child who does not live near you:


Before your College Student has a Medical Emergency:



  • Make sure they have their health insurance card in an easily accessible place.
  • Either call your health insurer or carefully read the materials from your health insurer concerning seeking care in another city/state. Find out if there are “in-network” health care providers and facilities in the new college town. Our son is in another state, so fortunately, our health insurer allows us to seek emergency care anywhere and it will be classified as “in network” for the deductible and out-of-pocket portions of the bill. If there are “in-network” facilities where your child lives and your student goes somewhere else, you could be in for a large bill.
  • Consider executing a HIPPA release with your child. Once your child is 18, you will need YOUR CHILD'S PERMISSION to access their medical information.  Hospitals and doctors are not allowed to discuss your child's medical care with you without signed consent. I recently interviewed a physician about HIPPA forms and here is his take:

Every institution will prefer their own forms for HIPPA purposes, but it is a good idea for the person who will be making the decisions and/or paying the bill to have an executed HIPPA form on file to fax or e-mail if the medical provider/institution will not give you adequate information, especially over the phone. If the patient is unconscious, the provider will talk to the next of kin, but that can sometimes be difficult to determine. Divorces and other family situations can complicate “the next of kin” issue.

*** Tell your child to put you as the emergency contact and as a person with whom health care providers may share medical information when filling out ANY AND ALL medical forms.

  • Have your child fill our whatever forms they need to with the insurer before they go to college, so that you can discuss their bills with the insurer. Even though you are the “insured” and are paying the bills, an insurer is also not allowed to discuss their bills with you without their consent. This was a bit of an issue with us because our son needed to give notice within 24 hours of his emergency to get in network benefits. We ultimately got it straightened out and were given the correct benefits, but did have to argue a bit that we tried several times to call them. They were arguing that the notice had to be from our son! 
  • Discuss with your child, what campus clinics, urgent cares, free-standing ERs, and hospitals are available. Do you have an opinion about where they seek care?
  • If possible, select a local friend or family member, who can act as the emergency contact until you arrive.

What to do when you receive “the call”:


  • Determine what action your child should take when they call with “symptoms.” After 18 years, you are probably pretty good at interpreting your child's voice and level of drama. Some kids will call hysterical because they have a splinter. Others will call and say, “I decided to jump off my raised bed and I fell on my arm. My arm is now a weird shape. Do you think I should show it to the pre-med student down the hall or do you think it is nothing?” (If it is just a splinter, send them to the first aid kit from The Best First Aid Kit for College.)
  • If you decide they should seek medical attention, remind them to take their insurance card with them and to PUT YOU AS THE EMERGENCY CONTACT and person to whom the doctor may give medical information.
  • Boys do not like to ask for help even if they are in incredible pain. But, depending on the situation, encourage your child to have a friend drive them. Our son drove himself to a free standing ER. The free standing ER made him call a friend to take him to the hospital. We are extremely grateful for the young man who came to his side at 4:00am.
  • The next step is the toughest: wait by the phone for your child or a doctor to call with news of what is wrong and what the next steps will be.
  • Find your HIPPA form in case you need it.
  • If you have a local friend or family member who can stay with your child until you get there, call them.
  • Plane, train, or automobile it to your child's side.

What if my child is unconscious?


I recently interviewed my friend Rexann, who received this kind of call from an ER doctor. Her son played baseball for his college and had collapsed during a workout. He spent over a month in the ICU after a heatstroke and experiencing the breakdown of his muscles from a condition called rhabdomyolysis. He has since recovered thanks to the excellent care he received and the prayers of family, friends, and strangers far and near.

Rexann says they did not have an executed HIPPA document, but had no trouble receiving information from the doctors at the hospital even over the phone. The drive to the hospital was about 8 hours and she received information even on the way. 

She did have the same experience we did with her insurance company. They said they did not have permission to talk to her about her son because he was over 18. After repeatedly explaining to them that he was unconscious, they finally relented and talked to her about the financial side of things. 

I also asked her if she had any advice for parents who find themselves in this situation. She said that there is no way to really prepare for the moment you receive that kind of call. As a sports mom she had dealt with many injuries and issues over the years and was not initially concerned to hear from an ER. Her only advice was to  stay calm because you will receive better information and the hospital staff will respond better to a calm person. 

Knowing What to do if your College Student has a Medical Emergency is a necessary part of the college preparation process. Neither you nor your student wants to be in this situation, but sometimes it is unavoidable. Take the necessary steps to be prepared.





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4 Crucial Topics to Discuss Before Your Child Leaves for College


This is a guest post by Cyndee Ownbey of Women's Ministry Toolbox.

As we navigated the first few months of our son’s freshman year of college, we quickly discovered our pre-college preparations were strong in some areas and lacking in others.

We failed to establish a communication plan and the monthly allowance we established wasn’t working as expected. And while I thought those years doing laundry had properly prepared him, I had failed to explain what settings I used on the washing machine and why.

If you’re launching your child out of the nest this fall, I pray the list that follows will encourage some beneficial conversations in your home and family.  We learned it’s much better to discuss and establish expectations now, rather than trying to negotiate them via phone and text once your child is at school.

4 Crucial Topics to Discuss Before You Child Leaves for College


  • Money

    Who’s going to pay for what?

 Will your daughter or son receive a weekly or monthly allowance? What expenses should be covered by their allowance? Do they need a grocery budget? Will you pay for their gas to travel back and forth from home to school? Haircuts? Toiletries? Cell phone bills? Meals off campus?

 Settle money decisions in advance, but agree to make needed adjustments regularly.


  • Communication

    How often will you call and text each other?

 During our son’s first week at school, he suggested we agree on a day and time each week to catch up via phone. He decided Sunday evenings worked best for his schedule. If either of us can’t make that day or time work, we reschedule for as soon as possible.

 One of my friends has implemented a “Proof of Life” requirement for her boys. They know when mom texts “POL” they must quickly respond with a photo of themselves. It gives her peace of mind to see their smiling faces and helps them to be aware that they haven’t been in touch recently. They often send POL photos without prompting even recently surprising their mom that the older was visiting his brother at his campus. They’ve all found a way to have fun with it while honoring their parents’ request.

 Take into account your child’s personality. You may hear from your child multiple times a day or hardly at all. Trust that they will reach out when they need you and don’t hesitate to let them know you’re praying for them.


  • Skills

    What skills do they need to master before they leave?

Laundry tops the list of skills your child needs to master before they leave the nest. Our oldest had been doing his laundry for several years, but machines with different settings and different capacities can trip them up. If you can remember, try to take a look at their washer and dryer before you leave campus and take a quick photo so you’ll be able to direct them if questions come up. Teach them how to iron, too, as there are events they may choose to attend that require pressed pants or dress shirts.

Even if your son or daughter is on the unlimited dining plan, basic cooking skills come in handy. Arm them with knowledge about what can and can’t be used or cooked in the microwave (no metal or aluminum foil!). Can they boil an egg or a pot of water for spaghetti? We tend to overlook such things as greasing pans, tell-tale signs of ripe fruit, expiration dates, and how to handle raw meat.  

If your child is taking their car to campus review or teach them how to check the air pressure on their tire, change a flat, and jump their car battery. A first aid kit, jumper cables, and a tire pressure gauge make great graduation gifts!


  • Drinking, dating, and other legal issues

    Is your child prepared to navigate social and ethical issues that arise?

While it’s tempting to launch the conversation with a stern lecture on what is and isn’t acceptable by law and in your family, questions make much better conversation starters. Ask your son or daughter how they plan to handle different circumstances and situations. What would they do if they were asked to ride in a car with someone who has been drinking or were offered a drink at a party even though they are underage? How might they respond to unwanted sexual advances or deal with being stranded without a ride?

While we cannot force our children to honor our household rules or even the laws of the land, they need to know where we stand and what is right. Their safety is our number one priority no matter what choices they’ve made, and they need to know they can call if they are in trouble. Unconditional love is not without appropriate consequences at the appropriate time.

Help your daughter or son to devise an exit strategy. While we pray they don’t find themselves in a situation that requires an immediate or necessary exit, having a plan in place will allow them to exit quickly and successfully. Some families have implemented the “x” text plan in which the daughter or son texts their parent an “x” and they immediately respond with an “emergency” phone call that requires they leave immediately. In college, I found myself in a potentially dangerous situation in downtown Nashville over spring break. Suddenly realizing I was in over my head, I faked an upset stomach and escaped to safety.

Your bird is already anxious to spread their wings and leave the nest and may think they know it all, but you have the wisdom of experience that can be shared in a compassionate and caring manner that may help smooth their flight. May God guide your conversations and preparations.


Cyndee Ownbey is grateful to God for strengthening her faith and prayer life during these sometimes tumultuous college years. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and their younger son, a high school junior. Their oldest son will be entering his senior year of college in the fall. Cyndee is a speaker, writer, and encourager for women’s ministry leaders at her site Women’s Ministry Toolbox.

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How Much Does it Cost to Have a High School Senior?

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Get your FREE copy of the Planning for College Checklists - Junior Year, Summer Before Senior Year, Senior Year, FAFSA, CSS-Profile, Scholarships, Dorm Shopping, Packing for the Move, and the Parent Survival Kit for College Drop Off

How Much Does the High School Senior Year Cost?


How much are High School Senior Costs? The truth is it can be A LOT! 

But, there are many ways to save money and much of the cost will depend on the choices you and your senior make.

How many colleges do you visit? How many schools do you apply to? Which announcements do you select? What selections do you make for a graduation party? Do you have a graduation party? Read on for a list of high school senior expenses and the options for spending a LOT or a LITTLE.


High School Senior Costs


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I have listed the costs you can expect for your child's senior year below as well as HIGH/LOW suggestions for each of these costs.


Senior Year Expenses:


College Visits:

Without a doubt visiting colleges will be your number one expense if this item is on the agenda. The costs include transportation, hotel, meals, and a trip to the college bookstore for some swag from the school. 

THE HIGH OPTION: If you have the budget for it, I say visit as many schools as you can. You will learn something at every visit even if it is that your student absolutely does not want to attend that college. 

THE LOW OPTION: Save the visits for the finalist schools after acceptances have been received. Most schools have admitted student's days. Take advantage of these. The worst way to lose money is to never visit, send your child, and then have them back home again after a terrible first semester. (This could still happen even with a visit, but it decreases the odds if your child has seen the place and met other students who are considering attending. My kids have met friends at admitted students days and it eases the transition to already know someone at school.) 


Test Prep:

Preparing for the ACT/SAT can be expensive – sometimes in the thousands, depending on how you choose to prepare.

THE HIGH OPTION: The high option is a private tutor or an expensive prep course. Should you pay for this? It depends. If your child is looking at schools with a nice chart with automatic merit aid given for certain scores, then invest what you need to in order to get the score your child needs for aid. Every point on one of these tests can mean thousands of dollars in aid over four years of college. Don't skimp on the prep.

THE LOW OPTION: My son made a 36 on the ACT – yes, you read that right – a perfect score. His advice is to take as many prep tests as you can from the test prep books available on Amazon. Practice is available for tens of dollars through these books. If your student's prospective schools do not award aid based on standardized test scores, then only invest what you need for admission and other scholarship opportunities. These tests are being deemphasized at many institutions.


College Application Fees:

If your student is going to apply to college, there are going to be fees. Easy money for the schools, but it can be a wallet drain for parents.

THE HIGH OPTION: Pay the fees (usually around $60 per application) for as many schools as your child wishes to apply to. 

THE LOW OPTION: There are 2 options to save money on application fees.

(1) Set a budget and make your student make some hard choices now. Only apply to schools that you are certain they are interested in and that you will be able to afford. (

2) Apply for fee waivers from individual schools and the Common App.


Scholarship Help:

You may have heard that there are thousands of scholarships available from private organizations. The question is how much time and effort should you invest in trying to win them. 2 of my kids have won private scholarships. They were through local organizations they were already affiliated with (like Kiwanis/Key Club) and through  CSPAN Student Cam . My son, who won 3 different awards from CSPAN, had extensive coaching from a high school film instructor with a history of coaching kids in winning these particular awards, so coaching does pay off. 

THE HIGH OPTION: Invest in an online program like The Scholarship System to guide you through every step of applying for scholarships. I interviewed Jocelyn about her experience winning $126,000 to pay for college and her system for teaching others to do the same in this post: Scholarship Tips from the Winner of Over $126,000.

THE LOW OPTION: Invest in a low cost book that will teach you the ropes like How to Win Scholarships by Monica Matthews. She coached her son as he won over $100,000 in scholarships and has written a book to teach you to do the same. 


Graduation Announcements:

THE HIGH OPTION: Go all out and buy announcements from Minted. They are amazing. I bought announcements for my middle son from Minted. They are gorgeous and are hand made to your specifications. Bonus: They will address them for you!!! If you want to spend some a large chunk of change on announcements, these are the ones for you.

THE LOW OPTION: Send a limited number of announcements to only very close friends and family. Shop for the best deals at Walgreens, Target, CVS, etc. 



Senior Pictures:

THE HIGH OPTION: Hire the best photographer in town and spend to your heart's desire. If you live in Oklahoma, I cannot recommend our photographer enough. She is very reasonable (as high end photographers go) and is absolutely the BEST PHOTOGRAPHER IN TOWN. Check out Hope's Instragram.


The lowest option is not to have professional photos taken.

The second lowest is to buy a portrait from the “FREE YEARBOOK SESSION” that you will most likely be offered by your child's school.

Other ideas are to take them yourself. (Even phones take amazing photos these days) Or enlist a photographer who is just starting out or who is doing it as a hobby to take your pictures. 


Senior Prom:

Well, don't get me started here. My daughter went to two proms because her boyfriend attends a different school than she does. And… in the days of social media, you are not supposed to wear the same dress twice, so yes, we bought two dresses. Don't judge me. She is the baby!

THE HIGH OPTION: Pay for it all – dress, flowers, tux rental, limousine rental, the dinner before, prom tickets, after prom activities, etc. Your wallet is your limit.

THE LOW OPTION: Budget what you can afford and tell your child the rest is on them.

Ideas for saving money include Renting a Dress from Rent The Runway.They have dresses for rent for as low as $30!!! 

We were blessed with some very savvy moms in my middle son's friend group. They would arrange a dinner with a fixed menu of 3 choices at a restaurant and arrange a not-that-fancy bus for the kids to take to events. Any one who wanted in, paid for their dinner and a share of the bus ahead of time – way more reasonable than having the kids order off the entire menu and rent smaller seating transportation. 

My husband and I hosted after prom breakfasts for both our sons. We did a waffle bar. See my Waffle Bar post for my husband's out-of-this-world, melt-in-your-mouth waffle recipe. Waffles are made from flour, eggs, and sugar, so not expensive. You can add topics according to your budget. 


Graduation Cap and Gown:

The cap and gown supplier will show up at your school and explain to your child that they need hundreds of dollars worth of items from their catalog. They do not. No reason for a high and low here. Order the cheap gown and maybe a slight upgrade to the tassel, but skip the rest. Pu-lease! Marketing to high school students. You can also order the school's official announcements at this time, but, your child will most likely prefer a more personal announcement that you create. 


Graduation Party:

There are 2 kinds of graduation parties.

The first is the one the school throws after graduation to give the kids one last night together and to avoid the possible tragedies that can occur if the kids do not have anything to do. These parties are usually low cost to attend and the school will most likely scholarship the kids who cannot afford it. They want the kids safe!! The two I have helped chaperone have been so fun for the kids – hypnotists, door prizes (one son won a commercial keurig donated by an office supply company), inflatables, bingo with cash prizes (trust me, kids will play bingo like your grandma if cash is at stake), photo booths, and more. Send your student to this party!!! They will not regret attending.

The other kind of graduation party is the one you host to honor your student. Budget dictates the high and low.

THE HIGH OPTION: Caterer, rental tables and chairs, professional decorations, printed invitations from Minted, etc. For my middle son the invitation to his party was on his Minted announcement (so even though the announcements were expensive, we killed 2 expenses with one stone.)


THE IN-BETWEEN OPTION: This is the route we have taken with our kids. Splurge on some items, save on others. Get catering trays instead of having a caterer deliver them to your house. Make some of the items yourself like these Texas cookies to celebrate your child's college choice. I ordered photo booth items from a vendor on Etsy and made the backdrop (which was not that easy) from 2 photo booth backdrops I found on Amazon. I set up a popcorn booth in a room with a slide show of our son growing up.

Homemade Cookies

Photo Booth

Photo Booth Props

I ordered the props online from an Etsy vendor for my University of Texas Film major.

Popcorn Bar

Easy, cheap, and fun! 

The Spread

Our spread included a mixture of catering trays from a local grocer and items we made ourselves like cookies, chips and salsa, and lemonade.


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Bible Verses for High School Graduation

Bible Verses for High School Graduation

Bible Verses for High School Graduation


High school graduation is such an exciting time filled with bittersweet memories and dreams for the future. As our babies take their first steps into the real world, we want to send them with encouragement and prayers. These Bible Verses for High School Graduation are the best guidance to give them.

Write these Graduation Bible Verses on a graduation card or print them out on card stock so they can tape them to their mirrors and pin them to their bulletin boards.

The Printables are available for FREE for members of the Almost Empty Nest community in the Printables Library. You can gain access to the library, which contains all of the Almost Empty Nest printables above and below this post.

For more verses:

12 Bible Verses for College Students

Bible Verses for Parents of College Students


Bible Verses for High School Graduation


Proverbs 3:1-2 – Do not forget my teaching, but keep my commandments in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity.

Deuteronomy 31:8 – The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Romans 8:28 – And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Numbers 6:24-26 – The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Exodus 14:14 – The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Colossians 2:6-7 – So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Micah 6:8 – He has told you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 5:16 – Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.



I love every one of these verses. They are my prayers for my own children. I pray you will be able to use these Bible Verses for High School Graduation to encourage the graduate in your life.

What are your favorite verses to write in a graduation card? Comment below!

Need present ideas:

Ultimate Graduation Gift Guide


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If your prefer not to join, you may purchase the printables through the same link above.

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How to Survive the Summer with Teens and College Kids at Home


So your college kids are home for the summer bringing their laundry and filling their rooms with piles of junk from their dorm rooms? And your high school kids are hanging out with friends in the evenings and sleeping in until noon? What's a mom to do? Strap on your laundry weight-lifting belt and ride along with me and we explore How to Survive Summer with Teens and College Kids at Home.


Other Summer with Teens and College Kids posts:

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How to survive summer with teens and college kids at home


Enjoy the time together

The first step to survival is to enjoy that they are home. As a stay-at-home mom, I love summer. I love the time to watch movies and play games and take a trip together. My daughter and I love to get pedicures and shop. I still “get” to drive her around to her activities and I enjoy the time to visit and listen to music together. My husband and the boys enjoy a lot of basketball, racquet ball, running, and cross-fit.  Pack as much fun in as you can knowing that August looms.


Insist that they be productive

But, you can only have so much fun, so the next tip is to insist that they be productive. No staying up all night and sleeping all day. The best way to keep them from staying up all night is for them to have somewhere to be the next morning.

My home-for-the-summer college kid has been knocking out a language requirement at the community college. He also has a very flexible job as a transporter at a hospital. My middle son has been doing some sleeping in, but does manage to get going around 11. He likes to go to the noon cross-fit class and told his instructor that he likes the class time because it is “first thing in the morning.” He also has responsibility for our over-an-acre lawn.


Help them choose a productive activity

One of the best ways for them to spend their time is doing some college prep work or exploring a career. Read 7 Summer Musts Before Senior Year if you have a rising senior.

Consider paying your kids to study for the SAT/ACT. One point on those tests can be the difference in $1000s of dollars in scholarship money. Studying can be an easy way for them to earn some spending money and could be a good investment on your part.

A job in their chosen field is probably the absolute best situation. Our oldest son, who is pre-med, worked in a hospital in high school and on college breaks. Being in the hospital gave him exposure to the emotions and other gross things physicians see. Lots of time to confirm that the hospital is a place he wants to spend his life.

Sometimes a student is not able to find a job in their future field of study, but time spent doing any kind of work is gold on college applications and resumes. If a job is not available at all, send them to volunteer somewhere, anywhere….


Travel and camps

Let them travel and go to camps. There is so much out there to learn and experience. A summer doing the boredom triathlon (tv, phone, computer) is a waste. Don't pass up the youth group or family mission trips. Camps are awesome. They will not fail to keep your child busy. I have two at camp this week. One is on his second week of film camp (career exploration and fun). The other is at a traditional camp with friends. I miss them terribly and send them sappy e-mails, cards, and care packages, but I know they need the independence. Camps also teach them to work with others.


Time for your own projects

Do a project of your own. I remember the toddler/preschool summers when I would spend an hour packing us up to go to the pool, an hour at the pool, and then two hours cleaning everyone up from the pool. There were a few idyllic summers when I was one of the coveted “lawn chair moms.” The kids would play all day and I would visit with friends and read. Both those kinds of summers are gone now, but the good news is I have time for my own projects.



Make a Contract with your Kids with your Expectations

My friend Miranda Lamb of Reluctant Cowgirl recommends many other ways to survive the summer with your teens and even has a FREE PRINTABLE Summer Contract you can create with your kids. Her advice is to set out your expectations and help your teens and college students make goals for themselves for the summer.


Basic family etiquette

And finally, adult or not, if they want free rent and free food, they have to follow some basic family etiquette.

Insist that they let you know if they will be eating with the family for dinner or going out. They also may not keep the productive members of the family, who have to be somewhere early the next morning, up at night and they must follow the moral code of the family. Again, if they want to pay for their own place and their own everything, then they are free to behave as they wish, but until then….

Having kids underfoot for the summer is a blessing and an occasional curse. There are so many great ways to spend the summer and a few ways to waste it. Jobs, college preparation, and travel are just a few productive uses of their time.  For more ideas read Don't Waste the Summer: Over 30 Ideas for Productivity and Earnings. Be sure to share your “How to Survive Summer with Teens and College Students at Home” tips in the comment section below.

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