Summers with kids, teens a unique time for the whole family

From the weather we have experienced lately, one might not know it— but summer is on the way. The arrival of summer in our community is an occasion to be celebrated— for we are all renewed by a refreshed way of living during this season.

From the weather we have experienced lately, one might not know it — but summer is on the way. The arrival of summer in our community is an occasion to be celebrated — for we are all renewed by a refreshed way of living during this season.

In the ways summer allows us to breathe more fully and move more slowly, there is also the space to more fully and passionately reflect and define one’s purpose and sense of self in the world. Among the moments summer brings rest from the structure and demands of the year, there is a priceless invitation to devote consideration to living from a deeper sense of purpose and intentionality.

For children and young adults, these are priceless summer days of self-discovery and developing aspects of personality, relational capacities, and social consciousness. Summertime provides a particular vital opportunity for fostering the attributes of character that are valued in their life, in your family, and within our community. As children and young adults move through this stage of rapid development, the moments that lend great promise for enhancing their experience of themselves apart from and within the world is also fleeting.

While summers will continue to arrive each year, there will only be one season such as this at this exact developmental stage in your child or adolescent’s life. What do you envision for your child to nurture this summer? What might they hope for in their life at this place and time in their experience of childhood or adolescence?

In the same way that this time is unique to your child or adolescent, there will only be one summer such as this time in your family as well. It is a rare and remarkable time for both your children and for your family to define the attributes and commitments that are valued and desired. For your family, what would you like your children to say about how your family lived this summer? What attribute or experience might they desire for your family? When you imagine the promise that this season holds, what is the legacy that you wish to build this summer for your life, your children, your family?

I encourage you to set aside time in the coming days to head to Bothell Landing or Peter Kirk Park and share a meal with your family and gather together in conversation. Invite each other to share what they would like to enhance in their life this summer and what they might desire for the family.

Perhaps such desires will be defined by a word or phrase. What is the language that you or your child might desire to claim? Creativity, kindness, service, courage, generosity, risk, inspiration, love, truth, integrity, passion.

Perhaps your child or family will offer an image or vision that expresses an aspect of character desired. A new way of looking at your loved ones? Touching your children more tenderly? Speaking more compassionately to one another? Serving your family or your community in ways inspired?

As language takes shape or as images come, perhaps the summer days will inspire reconnection with a loved one, investing in coming to know family members in a greater sense, serving the community in acts of philanthropy and charity, strengthening one’s work ethic by devoting time and effort to summer employment or contributions to family responsibilities, or renewed experiences of relationship with family and/or friends.

Several years ago, I encountered a man that had written a mission statement for his life. He wrote of the commitments that he held above all else in his world and the values that compelled his passions and guided his choices. When we speak into our life the aspects of our character we deem valuable, we live from a deeper sense of commitment.

In connecting language, both in speech and in word, we proclaim the identity we seek to live from today and the legacy we desire to build in the world. We challenge ourselves and those in our lives to live from a greater sense of purpose, continually refining our character and solidifying the cornerstones by which we all seek to live well.

Shannon West is a licensed family therapist serving families on the eastside. She can be reached at 425.415.6556 or via email at