There are strong and valid reasons to travel with your teens. With all the fear of violence in this world, many Moms have turned into helicopter parents hovering over every decision or dream their adolescent has as they move toward independence. I vowed that this would not be my path and took specific measures to fulfill my goal of raising self assured, confident and street wise children. My goal is to instill a sense of wonder and wanderlust that creates a constant itch for new experiences, cultures and learning across the globe.
I learned a tremendous amount about my children and the skill sets they possess by traveling with them. When my 3 older kids were taking French in school I told them if they continued through high school I would bring them to Paris to practice the language in senior year. They did it and I booked a 9 day trip. The details around the trip were all handled by Mom and that was just fine with all of them. On the trip from the airport to Paris we took public transportation. We had 4 large bags and carry-on bags and we found ourselves trying to figure out which train went to our hotel, dragging everything up and down multiple staircases to find the right train. After our long flight and the time change I had 3 very cranky teens that were voicing their displeasure with my planning.
Then I had an epiphany!
Put the teens in charge!
Once we arrived in Paris we sat down and discussed how this would work. The oldest was responsible for Transportation – The next was to manage the finances – the third was in charge of itinerary coordination and selection of only local and NON-chain restaurants. They were forced to think through a few things. What metro train should we take? Can we afford a nice dinner, or should we go to the grocery store for lunch items? Where would we go each day? Since I can’t have McDonalds, What will I eat!!!
They got very excited to be “in charge” and worked together to decide what we would do with our time. I was delighted that they all wanted to go to Jim Morrison’s grave – a bit of a surprise to me, but I felt validated as a parent because I taught them about good rock music!
We saw the major sites including the Musee du Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Arc de triomphe, Notre Dame and took trips to Claude Monet’s garden at Giverny and the Palace of Versailles. We never got lost and no one pouted that they did not get their way. We also took a train to Geneva Switzerland and rented a car to Montreaux for two nights. We went to Zermatt to see the Matterhorn and shared many laughs while making great memories. They had agreed to save enough of our money to get a car service back to the airport as they had no desire to relive the trip to Paris from CDG again.
The best part for me as the Mom was seeing that I had capable young adults. They walked the streets of Paris with confidence, my 15 year old son had his first kiss sitting on the steps of the Grande Arche De la Defense, my daughter learned about safe travels when she watched a pickpocket lift a tourists wallet out of a backpack, As we drove away from our hotel headed for the airport my oldest said, “As I travel, the more I see the more I want to see!” These young adults felt empowered and could not wait to figure out where they wanted to go next.