I just got back from the beach yesterday. It was a lovely, if short, jaunt to the Texas coast with my kids, my husband, and my mother. We had a delightful time building sand castles, digging moats and canals, rolling around in the waves, and searching for shells. In short, it was a perfect way to spend the weekend-before-the-weekend-before school starts.
We stayed at a condo where I stayed almost every year as an older child and teenager. I’ve also been there several times since. My husband asked me how often I had been to this particular condo, and I guessed maybe 15 or 20 times. He was surprised, and seemed to take the information with some gravity. My mother piped up, and we talked about how often we had visited and who had come with us and that one time we came over Easter and the seagulls had followed us around, hoping for breadcrumbs.
The thing is, for as far back as I can remember, I have gone to the ocean at least once a year. It’s important to me, on a deep emotional level. About a month ago, my husband said to me, “Wow, I think this is the longest you’ve gone without going to the beach since I’ve known you.” And it was true. I had resigned myself to a summer without the beach, until it became clear to me and everyone else forced to share my company for very long, that a trip was simply necessary. I am now able to return to my daily activities much refreshed and focused for another year.
However, for many years, it was my mother who supported my very important, yearly beach voyages. I am so grateful that now that I’m an adult, and I have the freedom and wherewithall to take myself to the beach every year. Now that I am an adult, I have the fiscal and practical ability to attend to my own emotional needs in a way that I simply did not as a child or a teenager.
Attending to their own personal renewal needs is a freedom that children and teenagers often don’t have. I was blessed to have a mother who valued me renewing myself emotionally, and made sure my needs were met in this way. My mother put her time and money to taking me to the beach every year because it was something I needed, and I am very grateful to her.
How can you help your teenager in this way? What activities or surroundings or people help renew your teenager’s emotional health? How can you support your teenager take part in those activities, surroundings, or people?