Parenting, tweens and teens

Planning a Weekend Away with your Teen

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We played Archery Tag, walked down the steps of Katniss’ house, and dreamed of pastries as we stood in front of Peeta’s bakery.  It was a dream fulfilled for both of us.  An entire day in District 12.  Not any District 12.  The REAL District 12.

The next day was filled with talking, laughing, and hiking as we toured more areas of the arena and discussed life, love, and growing up.

While my weekend with my daughter was full of Hunger Games fandom, our time away was about so much more than that.

Here are the resources and ideas I used to plan a memorable and fun weekend away with my teenager.

Before our children hit their teen years, my husband and I decided that one parent would take each child away for a “growing up” weekend.  Our goal would be to celebrate their entry into the teen years as well as have some specific conversations about topics important to our family.

As a homeschooling family, we are the only health teachers that our children will have.

This is a responsibility that we take seriously and embrace gladly.  As a result, more detailed discussions about sex and sexuality were priorities for the weekend. In order to effectively cover middle school health, my list also included tobacco, drugs, alcohol and peer pressure.

But these topics are just as important for families with children in school.  No matter where your children are educated, parents should always primary educators, especially when it comes to the topics of sex and sexuality.

My daughters were both taught the basics about body changes before fourth grade using The Care and Keeping of You books by the American Girl company. We also taught them the basics of sex around this time.  These topics are on-going conversations in our house though certain resources along the way have provided a nice springboard for discussion and information.

Growing Up Weekend: Preparation

Before our weekend away, my daughter read, “So You’re Going to be a Teenager” by Stan and Brenna Jones.   I thought this book did a great job keeping the content light-hearted while focusing on a variety of topics important to teenagers.  The book is written in a conversational tone directly to the teenage reader.

Before handing it to her, I ripped out the chapter titled, “For Boys Only”.  I read it before making this decision.  She was going to learn the information in the chapter, but not in the same depth, so I removed it.

The only part of this book that I didn’t care for was the list of “good behavior goals” in the back.  These goals include everything from not making fun of someone to various dating rules.  While these are great goals, the goal was to have your teen sign a commitment to these behaviors by signing her name next to each one.

Having her sign them felt unnatural and forced and had the potential to induce guilt or shame one day.  Instead, we went over these statements as potential goals that she could consider as she grows up.

I spent time reading, “Five Conversations you must have with your daughter by Vicki Courtney“.  There was a lot in this book that I enjoyed reading.  The chapter on beauty had a lot of thoughts for me to consider, particularly some interesting information about the history of the mirror in households.  All of that being said, I didn’t use much from this book on our weekend away, but I did enjoy reading it.

Growing Up Weekend: Resources for our Trip

I read the book “Facing the Facts: The Truth About Sex and You (God’s Design for Sex)” out loud with her over the weekend.

When my daughters were in elementary school, we read Book 1 and Book 2 of the God’s Design for Sex Series to introduce our kids to sexuality and have appreciated them as a springboard for discussion.

Book 3 covers middle school sexuality topics from a Christian perspective.  We did not read every chapter because this won’t be our last discussion and many chapters didn’t need to be addressed quite yet.

We talked through the first five chapters which cover basic middle school health sexuality topics.  The remaining chapters are focused heavily on dating, marriage, and sex.  I think we have some time before we hit those topics in depth.

Before you picture a scene of deep, thoughtful discussion while I was reading about these topics to an engaged teen, let me stop you right there.  I was reading the book to a teenager who felt completely awkward and was doing handstands in the hotel room unless I forced her to come look at a diagram.

We laughed.  We made it through.  Knowledge imparted.  Knowledge acquired.

Surely it won’t be the last time.

The absolute best thing I bought for the weekend was Just Between Us: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal for Girls and Their Moms.  It was a gift for her on our weekend.

Beforehand, I completed a page listing my favorite items in several categories. There was a page on the other side for her to record her list.  The entire journal works this way.  Mom writes on a page on the left.  Daughter writes on the page on the right.

There are pre-printed pages full of questions or prompts as well as empty pages for your own thoughts.  Anything can be written in the journal.  The only rule is that unless someone specifically states that they want to talk about something, then no one brings it up.  What is written in the journal stays only in the journal.

Matching T-shirts that fit our weekend theme were also a required weekend resource!  I found these online and knew that they would be perfect.  We like “off beat” shirts when choosing our fandom material.  Strange quotes or song lyrics that only true fans might understand are our favorite.

I also purchased her this Mockingjay pin from amazon.  She loves it and has worn it a few times.

Determine what little trinkets will make your weekend memorable and have a few on hand.  I figure that if you are going to have some awkward conversations, you might as well enjoy some fun new things.

Chocolate milkshakes work well too.

Growing Up Weekend: Final thoughts

Hiking is a great activity for a weekend such as this one.  We had ample opportunity for private discussions without pressure.  My daughter and I discussed more difficult topics than I had planned to discuss, but they came up naturally.

I was able to listen, without any interruption, to my daughter and hear her heart and what was on her mind.  Hiking was the perfect catalyst for deep discussion and connection.

The weekend ended too soon and immediately she asked when we would have another!  As far as I am concerned, that was the best sign of a successful weekend.

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The resources and ideas I used to plan a weekend away with my teenage daughter.

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Mary Wilson

Mary is a writer and mother to four kids ranging from elementary to high school.

She believes that creativity, laughter, and fun are the backbone for engaging and inspiring homeschools. You can find her encouragement and tips on this blog, Mary Hanna Wilson.

She is an enneagram 7 and an extrovert. She enjoys traveling, tea (iced or hot), good conversations, and books. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.
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4 Comments

  • Reply Leslie DeJarnette August 5, 2015 at

    Very creative efforts. Thanks for putting so much energy into making such a special weekend then sharing some how-to spirit with everyone.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com August 12, 2015 at

      Thanks Leslie! It was a ton of fun and I hope it is catching 🙂

  • Reply Dachelle @ HideTheChocolate February 28, 2017 at

    Great ideas. I think I need to do this with my kids.

  • Reply Jim June 18, 2018 at

    Gema ,did this all the time with us ….

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