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."