CEO Linda Graebner has found the perfect path into her daughter's head. (It involves pedaling.)
In the natural order of things, teenagers don't talk. Not to you, anyway. "My daughter is often trying to hide from me," says single mom and Tilia Inc. CEO Linda Graebner.
Relations between Graebner and her now 15-year-old daughter, Tracy Schantz, were further complicated by Mom's occasional late-night meetings, the teen's grueling homework, and contrasting personalities. ("Tracy is shy. I'm assertive," says Graebner.) Quality conversations were sporadic, and more often than Graebner liked they happened in the car.
So what do you do if you can't talk with your daughter at home? You skip town, Graebner decided. Last summer she and Tracy did just that, leaving Oakland, Calif., to bike through the chÂteau country in France's Loire Valley. Graebner swears that just the change of pace and place helped Tracy to open up. "The critical thing with teenagers is being there at that rare moment when they're willing to communicate," she says. "It's hard to predict when that will be, but on our trip it was frequently."
On a family-package tour, mother and daughter traveled with six couples and their kids, who ranged in age from 8 to 18. There was ample time for Tracy to hang out with her mom or traipse off with new pals.
Graebner has high hopes for next summer's trip, already in the works. "The key," she says, "is two weeks away from the normal day-to-day activities."