There are moments in the life of a teenager that signal the next stage of their development and your role as a parent. Whether it is letting them stay home alone or allowing them to borrow the family car, each of these thresholds requires reflection and preparation. One of those moments involves traveling alone for the first time. Often, the first taste of freedom to travel will come during their senior trip. This yearning for growth on their part should be allowed but with a few preparations. Here are a few things you should know before allowing your teen to go on that senior trip.
Although we are today more connected than ever, we should never take this ease of communication for granted. Popular senior trip destinations involve camping, hiking or skiing in areas where reception is not the best, where emergency facilities are miles away and where law enforcement is almost nonexistent. Practicing safety procedures is one of the best things you can do with your child. Have a conversation about possible scenarios. What if your phone dies? What if you need medical attention? Discuss sensible strategies for these eventualities.
It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of a senior trip. Many teenagers have not yet learned the value of money and tend to be careless with their financial decisions. Therefore, understanding how much money is required for them to have a safe and cost-effective trip is necessary. Often, the most expensive part of a trip is the transportation between your home and the destination. As airline rates continue to increase, this will be a much more common issue for teenagers. Consider allowing them to drive to the location rather than spending hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket. In fact, 18-year-olds can rent cars in some states, though they come with much higher fees. If the trip is far away, your teenager can begin to raise money through a part-time job. Just make sure that they understand the importance of budgeting beforehand.
Freedom from parental supervision is one of the most liberating things young people can experience. Throughout most of their lives, they have been monitored closely by either their parents or their teachers at school. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many teens tend to want to push the envelope when they are alone. As a parent, you should sit down with your son or daughter and go over your expectations. Laying out things like personal responsibility, respect for others and abiding by the law can instill your values in them. Most children don’t want to disappoint their parents, and the shame associated with letting them down is much more painful than other consequences.
It is completely understandable for a parent to feel nervous about letting a teenager go out into the world alone for the first time. The best thing you can do is cover every area that you might feel nervous about. This will ease your mind as you allow your child to grow as a person and will allow them to have a great time on their senior trip.
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