Hard Truths About Skiing With Teens. And Some Good News, Too.

skiing with teens

Nothing makes a teenage boy quite as happy as a photograph. Deer Valley, Utah.

braveskimom logoHard Truth #1: No matter how intelligent, fit and talented you are, there is always someone more intelligent, fit and talented. Usually your teen.

Hard Truth #2: No matter how well you ski, or snowboard, there is always someone who skis, or snowboards, better than you. Usually your teen.

If you’re the parent of a teenager (or two, or three), you’ve already figured out that they rule the world. Or at least they think they do.

As they grow into their bodies and brains, each day brings them more muscle and more brain connections. While you’re struggling to remember what to buy at the grocery store, they’re mastering advanced chemistry. While you’re stopping to catch your breath part way through a long mogul run, they’re impatiently waiting at the bottom for you wondering why you’re SO SLOW.

Skiing with, not to mention living with, teenagers can be demoralizing, but it can also be infinitely rewarding.

Here’s the Good News.

teens skiing

Chairlift Time Can Be Quality Time.

Recently, my 14-year-old and I were skiing together, without anyone else.

On the chairlift, shivering under a weak sun, we had an intense and valuable conversation. I don’t know how it started, but soon, my son was tearing down his teenage defenses and sharing with me all the things my husband and I do that drive him crazy. And while that might sound annoying, it was incredible. He opened up and told me things I needed to hear. He alone had my attention and he ran with it.

It was a conversation we would never have had at home.

Not every chairlift conversation has to be intense. Some are just fun. But either way, take advantage of your time together on lifts. Turn off the music, stash the phone and share the moment together.

chairlift chatting

Discussions, laughter and more. It’s all part of the family chairlift experience.

It’s Your Turn to Be Schooled.

Off the chairlift, I deal daily with the fact that my two teenage skiers can really rip. It seems like only weeks ago, I was praying for them to get off the bunny slope. Then we were pushing them to get off the groomers. Now, they are the ones pushing me.

Without my teenage sons, I would never have jumped into so many chutes, launched onto such steep faces or bounced along so many traverses. It would have been easier to stick to my favorite terrain, and rest content on the single blacks.

Not with these guys.

If there’s extreme terrain to be found, they’ll find it. And while I sometimes demure, especially in tight trees, some of my best days have been when they’ve challenged me to extend my skills.

No matter what your ability, take some chances with your teens. What skills do you want to improve? Ask them to help you. Ask them to choose terrain that they think you’d like.

You’ll be surprised how far you’ll go.

Squaw Valley

About to drop something steep at Squaw Valley!

Your Teens Will Keep You Up to Date.

Wondering who the latest freeskiing superstars are? Looking for beta on the best new ski movies? Trying to figure out which coat looks least “gaper-ish”? Or what they real events are the Olympics are? Let your teens tell you.

Natively equipped with built-in barometers that measure “cool” and “uncool” on a continual basis, my sons are encyclopedias of skiing (and lots of other) knowledge. They know what’s in, what’s out and the latest in ski design technology. While I’m content wearing my old goggles, they know all the reasons why I shouldn’t. And so much more.

I don’t always take their advice, but I do appreciate how much they know and their passion for learning is exciting. And while I will never be hip, or up-to-date in their eyes, at least I can keep up on the conversation.

Yes, they are more intelligent, more fit, and more talented than me. They ski much better than me.

And they are better-looking.

What more could a mom ask for?

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© 2014, Kristen Lummis. All rights reserved. Any use or publication of content, including photos, requires express permission.


  1. Tracy says

    Without my son, I would never try harder runs. He always tells me that I can do it and guess what, I can! He and his friends patiently wait for me at the lift line. It also helps that I’m the one buying lunch. :-)

    • says

      Yes, providing lunch or other treats is always a good way to remain indispensable! Still, I agree with you – my kids push me on my mountain bike, too. They show me how to ride something and then I can do it! Hooray! Hope you and your son keep having tons of fun together.

  2. says

    For sure, if you can look past the eye rolls and extended “Daaaaaaaad!”, skiing and snowboarding together is unique. It truly is “shared time”, vs “you do and I watch” time. I try the smaller terrain park obstacles and more often than not provide a good laugh for my 4 kids. As you say, Kristin…”what more could a dad ask for?” Fun post!

    • says

      Moms? Dads? Grandparents? What more can we ask for than “Shared time”? That’s one of my favorite things about skiing – the active, intergenerational aspect.

      BTW, try this, just roll your eyes back and say “whatever.”

      Have fun out there!

  3. Dayna Ashely-Oehm says

    When we first bought our condo in Winter Park, my kids were six and 10. I remember riding a lift with a women in her 50′s who told me in great detail why skiing is such a great sport for families. She spoke of the very thing you mention in your post…the chairlift time. Over the years I have thought of her wisdom and found it to be true for us as well. My kids are now 14 and 18 and I have learned so much by riding the chairlift with them. Including that I am never supposed to stop skiing (even when I’m old) and that I’m never allowed to look too weird (no gaper gap between my helmet and goggles). Teenagers have high standards!

    • says

      High, and amazingly universal, standards! The dreaded gaper gap is so humiliating to teens. I just got off the phone with a woman in Vermont who is now a ski grandmother. She echoes all of your sentiments: the chairlift time, the car time, not only with her grandkids, but her grown kids as well.

      I hope we all have plenty of chairlift hours with loved ones well into the future!

  4. says

    With 2 daughters getting close to the teen years, I really needed to hear the “good news” part! I have been dreading all the negative things parents deep in the teen years have been telling me all about. Thanks for giving me something to actually look forward to! (I love the tip about giving the eye roll & “whatever” right back to them. I know that would make them crack up–which is just what you need sometimes to get them over a surly mood.

    • says

      First of all, you’re right. Throw it back at them…but be prepared for any number of reactions. Teens are never truly predictable! Second, don’t dread the teen years! I love having teenagers. They are blossoming into their own people, with their own passions, intelligence and wisdom. I love these years!

      Good luck!

  5. says

    Great post! Too often parents dwell on the unpleasant aspects of having teens. I like that you have pointed out the positive benefits teenagers bring to parenting. As the mom of two kids now well into their 20s, yes, there were trying times. But there were also lots of fun memories. I can honestly say I enjoyed their teen years. If you son is comfortable opening up to you, I’d say you are doing a great job!

  6. says

    Never thought I’d see the day that my preteen daughter “out skis” me! And I’m a ski pro!; she’s a competitive freestyler…but the days when I’m not ski teaching and she’s free skiing with me are the best! Now we are waiting for our six year old daughter but not for long…
    They both challenge me on and off the slopes!