With the arrival of summer and, above all, with the end of the course, adolescents change their rhythm of life. They do not have to get up early to go to school, their homework and reinforcement classes for the subjects that are most difficult for them have finished and extracurricular activities are over. All these differences and the reduction of many of their academic obligations offer them the possibility of going out more often, and even later.
As a consequence, there are many adolescents who ask their fathers and mothers to relax the rules and limits to which they are subjected during the course. In other words, getting up later, spending more time relaxing or with screens, enjoying friends… Something that, as the child and adolescent psychologist Blanca Santos Giménez, a professor at the CEU San Pablo University, affirms, “we should all do, children and adults, because it helps us to rest after the routine and demands of the school months.”
“The course entails extra-personal and extra-family charges that are undoubtedly too many, unnecessary and frustrating for the happiness of every human being: father, mother, son and daughter”, emphasizes the writer, neuropsychologist and counselor Fernando Alberca. “School life is full of falsehood and fear. You are as you are on vacation ”, says Alberca. This is the reason why the author of All children can be Einstein (2017) advocates taking advantage of this holiday time to really rest, cure occupational stress and, above all, to reset any possible mistakes that have been made: “Summer allows you to delete and start a new account. And focus on what is important, abandoning all urgency”.
The best time to listen
The pressure of the grades, which increases notably when they go to the Baccalaureate, is usually a very important source of stress for adolescents. As Alberca explains, it is common for them to be more communicative just after class is over than during the course: “It’s easier to chat with them and they tend to be much more receptive. That is why it is such a good time to get an approach if during the previous months it has not been possible ”. This is one of the reasons why the writer assures that summer and holidays are an unbeatable time to “learn what our children are like, play with them regardless of their age, show them with facts that they are valuable to us, more than ourselves.” Because fathers and mothers are also more relaxed and have more time.
What the experts agree on is that lightening the rules or changing the routines does not mean that everyone can do what they want. Not much less. “Having a roadmap provides security for both adults and children. It gives us the serenity of knowing what will happen at all times and how we have to act. In addition, it prepares us for real life,” says Carmen Martínez Conde, coordinator of the Master’s in Family Educational Guidance at the International University of La Rioja (UNIR). That is why this expert affirms that the rules do not have to disappear, but rather adapt to each moment.
Psychologists advise that there should be a series of really non-negotiable rules, but that they be few and sure. Martínez points out that those that affect the well-being of others should never relax: “Our family, daily life, with friends… should be based on being the best people for each other.” “It may seem paradoxical, but it is not: giving ourselves improves us”, he adds. And so, for the expert, it does a double good: “We grow and make our environment a better place.” For Alberca, in effect, the limits must be in what does not make others suffer: “Whether it is the time of arrival, the moment of lunch or dinner with the family, etc.”
To be understood and accepted, the rules must also be consistent. “If our children’s arrival time during the course is at 9:00 p.m., it is not very consistent that in summer they can return at three in the morning. We are giving them a responsibility that they probably can’t handle”, says Blanca Santos Giménez.
Precisely the time of return home at night is one of the rules that tend to suffer more laxity during the summer. To set limits, the CEU San Pablo professor suggests applying common sense: “You have to take into account the age and self-management capacity of the young person. A minor under 14 years of age does not function in the same way as a 17-year-old in certain situations. For her part, Alberca remembers that, in reality, the time to return home will always be arbitrary: “There is no one who can prove that half past twelve at night is better than 00:40. But the important thing is that, whatever it is, it is based on some firm criteria”. And that it be negotiated and agreed. “It is essential that there is a deep family dialogue in relation to this issue,” says Martínez Conde.
Whatever that scheduled time, what is crucial, in the opinion of Santos Giménez, is that the guidelines to be followed are clear in case of need: “The minor must be clear that in any case and circumstance they can turn to their parents without fear of possible reprisals. When there is the certainty that they can go to the adult and be cared for by him, we can be calmer as to how they are going to act”.
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