Even independent teenagers need family time

Mikaela makes challah.

By Ellie S. Grossman, Special to the Jewish Light

Having teenagers is never a smooth ride, so combine that with quarantine and online classes, and parents have their hands full. For Amy Snitzer, mom to Mikaela, 16, and Zoe, 14, being a good listener is what matters most.  Her girls go to Parkway Central High School and middle school. The family belongs to United Hebrew.

“My daughters are very independent and have navigated the platforms and expectations without any guidance from us,” said Snitzer. “These are difficult times for teenagers and I felt it was important to relax some of our regular school routines. I let the girls dictate their own schedules, so if that means getting up at 11 a.m. and starting school from their beds they have the flexibility to do that. They know the priority is to get up and do schoolwork before anything else.” 

Since the girls have more down time in their schedules, they have come up with clever ways to make a difference, including curbside challah and cookie deliveries to friends. They also write and mail old-fashioned letters, a long lost art.

“The biggest challenge for them is not being able to socialize with friends and dealing with their individual disappointments,” said Snitzer.  “As teenagers they don’t have enough life experience to see the bigger picture sometimes. This was a crash course in understanding that tomorrow isn’t promised and that while their disappointments are real, they have so much to be grateful for.”


While Snitzer and her husband, Brad, enjoy spending more time with her daughters and eating more meals together, some of the best quality time is to sit down, talk and listen.  

“It is important to talk to our teenage kids—check in with them and let them express their sadness and fear,” said Snitzer. “Being socially isolated and not having their regular routine of school, sports and activities is emotionally challenging. It is also important to stay optimistic about what our new normal will be yet realistic that their lives will be changed forever. We discuss what we have to be grateful for while acknowledging all the disappointment is real.”