When my kids were babies I remember reading some advice that as a new parent, I shouldn’t label my children. The same advice seems quite applicable now that they are teens. It is important that I not try to define my kids. It’s time for them to start claiming their own identities and making their own definitions.
There’s a good chance that teens don’t even have words for who they are yet. Perhaps that’s why they brood and snap at us. Maybe that’s why they turn away and pretend that they already know everything. None of us know all of who we are at that age, and it’s certainly not my job to figure that out for them. What better way is there to help them figure out who they are then backing off and letting them suffer the consequences of their mistakes or reap the rewards of their successes?
Maybe they’ll become something that I wouldn’t have dreamed of in my wildest imagination. Now is the time that they have to start creating that world for themselves. Even the old stuff that I once showed them every day probably has to be experienced with their own hearts and minds. How to paddle through an eddy line or how to tie knots has to be rediscovered with their own intentions.
Even if we did dance together every day from birth to twelve, there’s a good chance that they’ll pretend not to like dancing until I turn away and they discover it for themselves. All I can hope for is that I’ve given them a few resources and all the freedom they need to find a passion and to do what makes them happy.
Where to Send ’Em
Sometimes the best thing you can do as a parent of teens is get out of the way. Herewith, some activities in the New River Gorge that your teens can do…without you.
Yes, send them on a hike. Better yet, let them choose the route. If they’ll allow it, we have a suggestion: The Endless Wall trail loops from one parking lot to another in approximately 3 miles, a great not-too-long, not-too-short, hard-to-get-lost expedition length.
◊ New River Gorge Bridge Catwalk
High places will bring everyone back to Earth. Bridge Walk ( ) is 850 feet above the New River.
Unless they are extremely well-trained and have been climbing with adults for quite some time, they’ll need to go on a guided trip. But what better place to send a sullen young adult: the only thing to get mad at is the rock. Hard Rock Climbing (304-574-0735) runs guided climbing trips in the NRG.
◊ Paddle Boarding
Equal parts adventurous and a cake walk, Stand Up Paddleboarding is easier than it looks. It also makes you look really cool. (adventuresonthegorge.com, 855-379-8738)
◊ Disc Golf
Adventures on the Gorge has a free, technical 9-hole course and the Wonderland Disc Golf covers 6,000 feet.
◊ The Upper New in a Ducky
It’s great for teens to be the captain of their own ship. Most New River outfitters offer ducky (inflatable kayak) options on Upper New River trips.
Rippers from far and wide stop in to ride the bowls at the Fayetteville Skate Park. (330 Park Dr., Fayetteville, WV 25840)
◊ Mountain Biking
The Dalton Trail for accomplished athletes; the Adena if they are starting out. New River Bikes offers guided tours and rentals; Marathon Bikes has rentals.
Category: Family Adventure