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Why you should take your pre-teen on a ‘Big Weekend’

a dad and his son
Posted January 24, 2019

Summer is a wonderful time to make memories with your children. But taking a child away by themselves for a ‘big weekend’ will set you both up for the year ahead.

The Kiwi roadie is part of summer. But when you have children, it’s sometimes hard to know whether it’s a summer dream, or a nightmare! That’s why John Cowan of The Parenting Place advocates taking one child away with you for some special one-on-one time—and he says this is especially important as they head into adolescence.

‘Apart from mealtimes, car time was perhaps the easiest place to talk with the children,’ says John. ‘In a car, you are close to each other, it’s quiet and, because you are both staring straight ahead rather than straight into each others eyeballs, having tricky conversations seems a lot less threatening. Because of this, my kids and I had our most significant sex-and-dating talks while driving.’

If you want to connect with your child on a car trip, he suggests, ask them to put on their playlist, rather than listening to your music—it will open up conversation. ‘We chatted and swapped jokes. I learned about their world of school and friends,’ says John.

In his family, each of the children had an important rite of passage when they turned 11—the ‘big weekend’.

‘When my eldest son had his 11th birthday, I took him away on a trip, just the two of us. It was a trip we had been planning for quite a long time. We worked out the different things we were going to do—it was going to be great fun. But he also knew that there was going to be a more serious side to the weekend as well. It was going to be a “preparing for adolescence” weekend. He knew it would be special, somewhat formal, and that what he would learn was not to be shared with younger family members or other children. It wasn’t going to be the “where do babies come from” talk, but information that he would need now that he was growing up.

In between takeaways and thrill rides, they spent time chatting in the car about things like ‘peer pressure, body changes, the terrible sense of inferiority that many teenagers feel, emotions, sex, love and dating, and how values affect all these things’.

They had a ‘big weekend’ with all their children, as they turned 11, and John recalls it as ‘some of the best times I have ever had with my kids.’

Source: www.theparentingplace.com

Roadtripping with Kids

  • Make the trip part of the holiday. You won’t mind stops as much if you plan them—make the journey, not the destination, the goal.
  • Put on an audiobook the whole family will enjoy—like the Narnia or Harry Potter series.
  • Before you leave, print out ‘car bingo’ sheets (Google it)
  • —and tick off things as you see them.
  • To keep the car tidy use cup-cake liners in the cup holders, hang a shoe organiser behind the front seat for your kids’ equipment, and use a Tupperware cereal container for rubbish.
  • Provide an oven tray or chopping board as a flat surface, and give the kids colouring-in equipment or games to play.

(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 12 January 2019 p10. You can read 'War Cry' at your nearest Salvation Army church or centre, or subscribe through Salvationist Resources.