Should Parents Vacation Without the Kids?

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July 19, 2016
vacation, kids, travel, advice

Moms and Dads currently find themselves knee deep in planning for getaways that require packing lists full of slippery sunblock, pool noodles, and sticky snacks.

It’s a summertime tradition, but does it have to be? recently raised a very good, if somewhat controversial question: Should parents vacation without the kids?

Before you go all “Where is Kevin?”—one of the most memorable lines from the classic holiday film “Home Alone”—the quick answer is: yes, and no.

The basic truth is no one travel philosophy is a hundred percent when it comes to the children. In fact, studies show both kinds of trips are beneficial for families in the long run.

According to a March Harris interactive poll of 2,500 adults and 1,200 kids, 62 percent of adults said they remember childhood trips more clearly than school events or birthdays—and over half of the children said vacations bring their family closer together. At the same time, a February U.S. Travel Association survey found 86 percent of respondents who travel as a couple believe “the romance is still alive in their relationship,” compared to 73 percent who don’t vacation together.

Sue Scheff, a parenting author and consultant to families of difficult teens, believes that time away can help make anyone a better parent, whether they’re single or married, the parent of a baby or a young adult. And she says a healthy dose of parental separation actually does go both ways.

“Every toddler and teen is also entitled to a little time off from their parents, too,” Scheff explains. “It helps them grow in their independence.”

Fortunately, experts assure that adult-only trips aren’t necessary for every couple to be “good” parents or to have a happy union. Child-free getaways are only one path towards the same goal.

“The important thing is to put energy and attention into your adult relationship in any way that you can,” advises Sara Oliveri, a Washington, D.C.-based life coach.

Oliveri tells her clients: rather than vacationing per se, concentrate on “making deposits in your partner’s emotional bank account”— listening, complimenting, encouraging one another on a regular basis— which can all be done from the comfort of your couch after your kids go to bed or a local restaurant.

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