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Make March Break More Meaningful For Your Teens

03/06/2017 05:23 EST | Updated 03/06/2017 05:32 EST

March Break 2017 is almost upon us and everywhere, parents of teens are scrambling to figure out how to occupy their kids' time for an entire week. Many parents are planning vacations, sports camp or some other fun activities for their teens, but I think that this is a missed opportunity.

At a time when teenagers are more insolent and alienated than ever, March Break could be used as an occasion to bring the family together and reinforce positive values.

teen volunteering

(Photo: Massimo Merlini via Getty Images)

Instead of taking the family to a resort or a theme park, I suggest engaging the entire family in some type of meaningful activity that strengthens family bonds, builds self-worth and makes a contribution to the community.

Many teenagers these days have adopted the mindset of goofing off and partying as much as possible. Sadly, they have almost no repository of meaning in their lives. They're bored and disillusioned because they're not involved in anything that's really gratifying.

These teens are being coddled by their parents and now, because of misguided parental and school board interventions, teachers are barely permitted to discipline these out-of-control youth, let alone instill in them constructive values.

These spoiled kids get caught in a vicious circle of boredom and emptiness. They seek out pleasurable yet unsatisfying solutions to their existential malaise, which only amplifies their anger and discontent.

teen beer

(Photo: Marioguti via Getty Images)

Parents need to take advantage of every opportunity to redirect their teens' energies toward more constructive and fulfilling activities, or risk raising a generation of irresponsible, entitled youth with barely any coping skills to bring to their adult lives.

The answer is to start today by filling their teens' lives with meaning. Meaningful activities are those that contribute to the betterment of others, whether it's the family, the community or the world. Parents can offer their teens a number of options for how they'd like to spend a meaningful March Break.

This could be volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter. The family might take shifts at the local humane society or cat rescue. They could do a stint for Habitat for Humanity or other area housing projects.

You can spend the week entertaining your teens or you can make March Break 2017 more meaningful for your entire family.

The family could spend time visiting at a senior's center or children's hospital, or they could serve up meals at a soup kitchen. They could join a clean-up crew for a local park, beach or stretch of highway. The list is endless. The point is to choose a positive activity that everyone can do together.

The teens might be convinced that they'd rather spend the week on the beach or at hockey camp and these activities are fine, in and of themselves. It's just that the family will feel very differently after a week of shared meaningful activities.

Parents and teens will have a greater sense of self-worth and they'll connect so much more to each other through having spent time making a contribution to their community and their world.

Think about it. You can spend the week entertaining your teens or you can make March Break 2017 more meaningful for your entire family.

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