So, your high schooler or college student has asked to spend spring break with his buddies. Should you let he and his friends travel alone together? He tells you that several other parents have already agreed to let their teens go. Checking around, it seems the other parents are hesitant, but they feel boxed in and have given their reluctant permission.
Is a spring break trip without parents a teen’s rite of passage? Or is it a terrible, no good, very bad decision? Several considerations can help you decide whether to give it a yes or no. Let’s look at how to respond when your teen wants a spring break trip with friends.
First, listen to your teen. Hear him out and let him share what he has in mind. Our kids need to know they can always come to us with their ideas and requests. Don’t give an immediate response, don’t shut it down from the get-go and don’t respond in fear. But do your homework. What other friends are invited? Who seems to be leading the arrangements? What do you know about the friends who are going? What’s the nature of the trip – is it a week at a popular beach destination or a week joining an organization to do volunteer work?
Consider the dangers.
Unsupervised student spring break trips are notorious for a reason. Among the dangers are underage drinking, excessive and binge drinking, increased injuries and traffic fatalities, access to drugs, sexual promiscuity and the increased crime, including assaults and rape, in popular spring break destinations. Don’t feel boxed in or pressured because other parents have already said yes. Make your decision and be ready to stand alone if needed. In my experience, other parents are often waiting for one parent to say no so they can join in and not come off as the lone hold-out.
If the answer is no.
After you’ve evaluated the details of the trip, your teen’s maturity, the friends who will also be going and all possible dangers, you may decide the answer is no. But along with your no, think about offering a spring break alternative like a day road trip with their friends or a family trip where they can bring a friend.
If the answer is yes.
There may be situations where you allow your teen to take a spring break trip with friends. You know your child and trust her, she’s shown maturity and that she can handle this opportunity, and your due diligence has given you a reasonable peace about the trip. Plus, you know the friends she’ll be with will be influences for good and not ill. IMom founder, Susan Merrill experienced this situation with her own child. Here are her thoughts:
If it’s a thumbs up, give your teen this assignment: let her plan the details, including the cost and logistics, and then present it to you. Make an agreement about communication and rules for the trip and, together with the other parents, have the teens agree to hold each other accountable.
Tell us! Did you ever take a spring break trip without your parents? Would you be willing to share part of that experience as you talk with your teen?