During these unprecedented times, staying at home has opened my eyes to the many things I often take for granted; as well as starting to do things I otherwise would never have dreamed of undertaking. In the summer months, I have kept myself busy inside and outside my home such as cleaning, rearranging, DIY projects, exercising, etc., whilst my 15-year-old son spends his time playing video games for most of the day.
Online school is done, athletic summer programs are closed, and school sports are out of the question for now which leaves my son with nothing else to do but play video games. Having a teenage son comes with its challenges; however, it is even more challenging or in my son’s words “cringy” engaging in fun activities that he would normally do with friends, now to do with mum due to the current COVID-19 situation.
When my son was younger, it was never an issue to bring him along in doing mum things such as shopping, going to the theaters, and going to the park because everywhere mum would go, he wanted to go. Instead, it was challenging in doing things without him and having some “mummy alone time”. Now, I have a lot of “mummy alone time” because my son is going through those adolescent years where independence, separation, and opposition begins, which is totally normal. I get it.
One day, I decided to work out in the garage to lift weights and my son walked in on me. He saw my workout written on the board and asked what I was doing and minded his own business. The next day, he came downstairs and said, “Mum, let’s lift”! I was left with a concerned look on my face and my mouth open thinking to myself, did I hear correctly? So, I quickly said, “ok” without making a big deal about it and lifted weights with him.
Since that day, my son and I have established a new way of bonding while exercising. We both motivate and support ourselves in engaging in this leisure activity together. We exercise together at least five days out of the week, and I have become his trainer! Would this be happening if COVID-19 did not exist? The answer is no because if COVID-19 did not exist, then he would not have a reason to lift with mum. After all, he has his friends and teammates to do that. Before COVID-19, he had his workout routine Monday through Friday training at the school weight room and mum was definitely not a part of that.
I believe both my son and I created a leisure activity spontaneously resulting from extrinsic factors that led to enjoyment, interest, and facilitation of a mother and a son bond. Finding ways to bond with your adolescent children can be challenging, however, research indicates that activities tailored to personality, interests, and abilities can increase the probability of engagement and continuity. In our case, the activity that we accomplished was weightlifting. If a parent values participation in leisure activities, not only through support and encouragement, but also in being actively involved provides guidance, self-efficacy, and transfers parental values and beliefs. As we know, physical activity leads to the release of endorphins, increased blood flow, and enhanced brain oxygenation which may reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression. The association between physical activity and the mental health of children and adolescents leads to their development in physical, cognitive, social-emotional behavior and regulation, and social participation, as well as many others.
Fortunately, being quarantined has allowed us to strengthen our mother and son bond and create this awesome leisure activity in which I will cherish for days to come and be grateful that our shared interests will make a difference in his adolescent years which I hope that he will never forget.
Fawcett, L. M., Garton, A. F., & Dandy, J. (2009). Role of motivation, self-efficacy and parent
support in adolescent structured leisure activity participation. Australian Journal of Psychology, 61(3), 175–182. https://doi.org/10.1080/00049530802326792
Kleszczewska, D., Mazur, J., & Siedlecka, J. (2019). Family, School and Neighborhood Factors
Moderating the Relationship between Physical Activity and some Aspects of Mental Health in Adolescents. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 4, 423. https://doi.org/10.13075/ijomeh.1896.01389
Author: Lorinda L. Harris