Vacation: Should We Bring the Kids?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Summer time has arrived and Americans are itching, not only from the mosquito bites but for a vacation. But when it comes to a few days off from the daily grind, not everyone agrees about whether or not to bring the kids along. Some say the family vacation — with the kids in tow — helps parents and children grow closer. Others argue that the whole family benefits when the parents go off by themselves, rejuvenate, and reconnect.

If you can only choose one or the other, what’s best for your family?

Daniel Gill, a family therapist with the Family Institute at Northwestern University, is in favor of the family vacation, kids and all. "Those of us who have camped and have spent a lot of downtime with our families and our parents know the kind of flow activity and wellness of being that one gets in really getting away and having downtime with your parents," Gill says. 

Katrin Schumann is the author of “Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too.” By leaving the kids out of vacation plans, Schumann believes that parents gain some valuable time to reconnect with their spouses, which contributes to their parenting abilities in the long run. "Our responsibility is to do the best job we can as parents and as partners in a marriage," the Schumann says, "and sometimes that means taking time out for ourselves so that we can reenergize and reconnect with our partner." 

For many parents, dropping the kids off somewhere and spending a week at a five-star hotel can be anywhere from impractical to impossible. But Schumann says that kind of vacation isn't necessary. Oftentimes, parents can reenergize by doing nothing more than taking a walk or spending time pursuing personal interests.

"It's really about finding some peace in your life, and you don't need an expensive resort to do that," Schumann says. One of the most difficult hurdles that parents encounter is the guilt that may come along with leaving one's children, even for a short period of time. However, the author says that some alone time will benefit the family's relationship overall.

"I can see why parents would feel guilty being away from their children, "Schumann says, "but what they don't understand is that if you take a long-term perspective on this, very often it's the case where getting away and reenergizing and reconnecting with yourself makes you a better parent in the long run." 

Guests:

Dan Gill and Katrin Schumann

Produced by:

Robert Balint, Kristen Meinzer and Ashley Wandishin

Comments [7]

Toni

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Mar. 07 2013 01:51 AM
Cindy Goodman from Fort Lauderdale, Florida

I have taken short get aways with my husband. Once you get over the guilt of leaving the kids behind, you can see the advantage of spending quality time with your spouse without dividing your attention. When you return, having reconnected, it helps you in approaching parenting as a team.

Jul. 05 2012 03:58 PM
Janet from NYC

My husband and I never have taken a vacation without the kids. It's a time to revert to our 'real' selves outside the pressures of work, school, and for them now as well, work.

The result: now ages 30 and mid-twenty, both of them still travel with us. (We're about to embark on this year's 'adventure'.) My husband and I treasure this time with them and it still contributes our favorite memories, adventure stories, lots of laughter, and defines us as a family.

Jul. 05 2012 03:37 PM
Patricia from Forest Hills

I've taken time away with my husband and I don't feel guilty at all. The spousal relationship is the foundation of the nuclear family and we should be able to get away (even for a weekend) and not feel bad at all. My parents weren't able to vacation without us but did have regular date nights. I'm thrilled they did, they were very much in love and that's what I remember from my childhood.

Jul. 05 2012 03:26 PM
Kate from Massachusetts

My husband and I just got home from a 4-day vacation to Washington D.C. for a friend's wedding. We left our kids home and had a wonderful "grown up" time. But we spent the whole time thinking about them and talking about all the fun things we would do when we bring them back to D.C. when they are a little older.

Jul. 05 2012 11:36 AM
Audrey from Pittsburgh

This is why we invented sleep-away camp! The kids learn to be social creatures, get a whole lot of exercise, and we get a vacation or staycation, as we desire.

Jul. 05 2012 09:21 AM
Yanina from New Jersey

This is the first year I am going with out the Kids, 12,14,16. too expensive to drag around long unhappy teens, constantly complaining about everything...
I am going children-free! and be back happy and rejuvenated.

Yanina

Jul. 05 2012 07:27 AM

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