You planned your 16 -year -old's birthday party bash and then quarantine hit. What do you do?
That is, excuse me, that is today's question on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm
a licensed marriage and family therapist, founder and clinical director of the group private
practice Teen Therapy Center. I'm also the executive director of the nonprofit organization,
Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California, where we specialize in
helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. Every Wednesday at noon I come into your
feed and I answer your parenting questions and here is today's. My son's 16th birthday is coming
up. Originally we had a huge party planned with all his friends invited but that had to be cancelled.
He says it's fine but my wife and I think he's putting on a brave face so as not to make us worry,
sad. We know he was really looking forward to it. We are planning on having a small celebration
with just the three of us instead, but I'm afraid
he'll only see what is missing. Any advice on how to make the day fun for him?" Great question.
I think all of us can relate to this. I think all of us had something going on the last several weeks,
many weeks, and many weeks going forward that happened to be canceled or delayed or just missed
and it's frustrating. So first I want to say that the disappointment that he may be feeling is
totally understandable. And the same with the disappointment that you may be feeling too.
I think it's normal to have that disappointment. You know, he only has one 16th birthday party
and you've been planning it for a long time and everyone's ready to go. You know, all these things
planned and now it's not happening. And I think it's important to allow that to be here. It's
okay to have that disappointment. It's normal. I think both things can be true. We can have the
disappointment of the reality of the situation but also the understanding of what is going
on and find appreciation for what we can do. I
think all those can coexist at the same time. There's a lot of things you can do. I'm sure people
have been searching online for ideas. Some of the fun things I've seen are car parties where
one drives up to a big empty parking lot and everyone stays in their cars and waves hi and says
hi, but it's hard to kind of have that connection except for yelling at each other. One idea I
think is really cool that I found is a chalk party and that is when all his friends come to the neighborhood
and they write on the sidewalk for the neighborhood happy birthday greetings and then once
they're all done the three of you go walk through the neighborhood and see all the happy birthday
greetings I think it's kind of cool he'll probably also want to connect with his friends online
and that's okay I think it's great that you guys are having your own small intimate family gathering
do something fun do something creative do something you haven't done in a long time or something
you've never done. Do a paint
party where all you get paints and easels and, you know, canvases and you all paint together
with some really cool music. I don't know. Just find something fun and entertaining. I think
what's really important is that we as parents don't let our disappointment project onto our
kids' disappointment. He may be disappointed. Again, that's fine. But I think it's important
that our disappointment doesn't project on him. And what I mean by that is there's a very fine
line between empathy and then Dumping our our sadness or fear or anxiety on someone else It's
okay to be transparent and let him know that you're disappointed too, but you don't want to push
it on him You want to still have that sense of hope and that sense of confidence so he can lean on
you and that way He doesn't feel that he needs to take care of your feelings because he's 16. He's
not qualified for that yet So make sure that you're trying to find the silver lining and maybe
he can too and maybe Maybe he is not keeping the bright
face. Or maybe the bright face is enough where he gets it. So it's important to let him have his
feelings and support him and be there and just focus on having fun. I think it's really important.
I think there was something else I was gonna say with this and it's slipping my mind and I'll probably
remember it as soon as I log off and if I do, I'll put it on the messages below. But anyways, I really
wanna thank you all for tuning in. These are great questions I think we can all relate to. Please
keep your questions coming and if you want your question answered next week, you can email me
at tips on teens at teen Therapy center comm the email is in the wording below. You can be there
and Hope you guys are all staying safe and comfortable and healthy And again, my name is Kent
to sound from teen therapy center, and I'll see you next week. Bye. Bye
Teens and their families are having to miss out on major milestones because of COVID-19: prom, graduation, and birthday parties, to name a few. And while our kids are handling the situation with understanding, as parents we still want to celebrate these important moments, even if it’s on a smaller scale than planned. This week’s Tips On Teens question comes from a parent looking for advice on how to make sure their son enjoys his sweet sixteen, despite the lack of a party:
“My son’s 16th birthday is coming up. Originally we had a huge party planned with all his friends invited, but that had to be canceled. He says it’s fine but my wife and I think he’s putting on a brave face so as not to make us worry/sad. We know he was really looking forward to it. We’re planning on having a small celebration with just the three of us instead, but I’m afraid he’ll only see what is missing. Any advice on how to make the day fun for him?”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.