For more information about parenting and your child’s development: www.brazeltontouchpoints.org Questions or comments may be addressed to Dr. Joshua Sparrow, care of The New York Times Syndicate, 620 Eighth Ave., 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018. Questions may also be sent by email to: email@example.com. Questions of general interest will be answered in the New York Times Syndicate column that Dr. Sparrow writes with Dr. T. Berry Brazelon, which may be posted on a Families Today website or collected in book form. Drs. Brazelton and Sparrow regret that unpublished letters cannot be answered individually.
Do you remember the vacations your family went on when you were growing up? Even if you didn’t travel very far away, memories of these excursions can last a lifetime. What do you remember? Maybe something spectacular, like a roller coaster ride at Disney Land, or Old Faithful gushing at Yellowstone. But some of the tenderest memories are bound to be about the time a family spends together, playing cards or frisbee, walking along a beach, or just hanging out on the porch or front stoop.
Family time is getting scarcer, so here are two ideas about how to protect it and enjoy it on vacation.
First, don’t plan a trip that is more expensive or complicated than you can handle without getting stressed about it. If every moment feels like it has to pay off, it’s not worth it. There’s no point in teaching your kids to expect fancy vacations if you all have a terrible time. It’s really not about where you go or even what you do. It’s just about having a break, together, and having that feeling of closeness that only a family can have. Don’t over-schedule yourselves so much that you end up feeling rushed. Squabbles are bound to ensue.
Second, make it a priority to tune into each other. Put all the electronics aside – cell phones, laptops and tablets, portable DVD players and everything else – until you really need them. On a long trip, they may help the kids from driving you and each other crazy. But if they spend all their time playing a video game, you might as well stay home. Of course everyone may need a little time on their own each day – but plan individual downtime deliberately so that every one can count on it, and so that people aren’t tuning each other out the whole time.
Finally, don’t expect your vacation to be perfect, or for everyone to get along the whole time. Something will go wrong – that’s part of the adventure. Family members will disagree – it’s their chance to learn how to get along. Not everyone will be thrilled with every activity, but they’ll learn the importance of compromising and taking turns.
The content of these blogs are not intended to constitute or to take the place of medical or psychiatric evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. If you have a question about your child’s health or well-being, consult your child’s health-care provider. Before starting any treatment or new program, consult your pediatrician about your own child’s health, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. These blogs are not substitutes for the advice give by your child’s pediatrician. They should not be used as an alternative to appropriate medical care. The author has strived to ensure that the information presented is accurate up to the time of posting. However, in light of ongoing research and the constant flow of information it is possible that new findings may invalidate information presented here.