I read a post this morning that shocked me entitled “Why parents should never go on vacation without their children”. Later, the title reverted to what the author originally penned, “When Parents Think They Can Go On Vacation”. I’m pretty sure a bajllion people clicked just because of one of those titles. I’m also sure a fair number of people got the ickies reading the post.
Was I shocked that a major site would whip up the most controversial title possible? No. It seems these sites and many a blogger can’t help themselves.
Was I shocked that this site would publish something controversial? No. I like a good debate. People deserve to have a voice and an opinion, be it that of the majority or not.
Was I shocked by the quality of the article and stunned by the extremely judgmental tone? Yes.
The article itself is chock full of anger and statements crafted to ruffle the feathers of many a reader. One can’t reference recommended breast-feeding until 2 years old without pissing off a lot of people. I also do not recommend telling a whole world of parents they are not thinking straight and then hope for an unbiased reader.
Why do some parents think it’s OK to leave their little kids and go on a long vacation — a 19-month old baby, a 3-year old, a 5-year old and a 7-year old — for nine days? This sort of thing drives me crazy. I want to tell the parents they are not thinking straight. (But I can’t and won’t.)
Aside from the angered tone, the article was also confusing. If the author struggles with leaving children with an unknown caregiver, that should be the title and focus of the article. This would make a very interesting conversation. However, aside from one sentence she focuses on the dangers of leaving children without their parents and attempting to scare the living daylights out of any parent who has ever left their child in the care of another. Here is that one sentence.
And I am not talking about leaving your kids with grandparents, I’m talking about leaving young children with a caretaker with whom they have no relationship.
Whatever point the author was trying to make, this is what came across to readers.
In my opinion, if you are going to have kids, then you should stay home with them until they are older.
Excuse me, but I take issue with the implication that we should not have kids if we ever plan to vacation without them. Or go on work trips. Or leave them for anything.
Should We Ever Leave Our Kids?
After wading through the mess of ideas, I thought the actual question was a good one. Leaving children, whether at a daycare center or pre-school or for a vacation, is something that every parent struggles with. We must balance our needs as individuals with our responsibilities as a parent. We must think about our own well being as well as that of our marriage or other relationship as well as that of our children. Hell, we have to think about our livelihoods, if we are traveling for work. For me, balance is key.
As you can tell, I think this article struck a nerve on more than one level. People don’t all leave their children simply for a good time. For me, I thought not just about vacations but about my husband’s job. He travels regularly and the kids have to say goodbye and then goodnight on the phone and trust that he loves them and wished he was there and that he will come back. Is this damaging them? I travel for conferences or events at companies I have a working relationship with. My heart breaks when I leave them. We miss each other. I always wonder if I am doing the right thing. Guess what? I come home to hear my 5, 4 and 2 year old telling me stories of what an awesome time they had. I get lots of big hugs and share hundreds of giggles as they recount their adventures without Mommy. Sometimes mommies and daddies need to work. Guess what? That is okay!
I know kids go through separation anxiety of differing degrees. Would I leave a child for a week who was terrified when I walked out the daycare door? For a vacation, no, I would not. I would need to feel like we had built a level of trust with our child. We would need to build from dropping off at daycare to going on a date to perhaps an overnight. Baby steps. Would I still set a vacation, even a mini one, as a goal? Yes, because that would mean that we felt our children trusted us to come back and trusted the people we chose as caretakers. It would also mean that my husband and I have would have time to work on our relationship, both physical and emotional.
There are times when we are not with our children. For business or pleasure, most children will experience time away from their parents and should be able to develop a trust in other grown ups. Somehow, while this article focused on vacation, what it said was to never leave your kids. At least that is what it said to me. I simply do not agree. With the right caretakers and children who are prepared, travel without children is fine. It can even be good!
Have We Vacationed Without Our Children?
As far as taking vacations without the kids, we would do it more if we could. Our marriage would thank us, that is for sure. We left when Miles was 1 and Sophia was 2 1/2 for a week. On the beach. It was absolutely fantastic. They stayed with my brother and sister in law. We left for 2 other weekends since then and had massive plans for sleepovers and Uncle Graham helping out. In no way did I feel like our kids were getting “passed off” from family to family. In fact, I think it strengthened their independence and their trust in us and in other adults that we trust. There are other people in my children’s lives who love them. My kids love other adults. I love that.
I know that they had the time of their lives. They barely had time to say goodnight to us. I am sure they missed us, but I never heard one word of fear from them. Of course they knew we were coming back. We are Mommy and Daddy and we love them to the ends of the earth and back. They have total confidence in that fact.
We are currently planning a weekend away in August that will demand quite a shuffle with different camps and families and activities. It should be a doozy of a contact sheet and oodles of fun for the kids…and us!
What a 5 Year Old Thinks about Mommy and Daddy on Vacation
We are talking about what impact a vacation without kids has on our kids. I tried to get all 3 of my kids to answer a few questions but Miles and Violet kept mooning the camera. You would love that video. I did manage to get Sophia to sit down and talk with me. She was honest. She thought about her answers. She admits she is sad when we are gone but happy for us. Most of all, I was a little shocked to hear the first thing she said. “You’ll Come Back.” Of course, she talks about being sad and missing us, but most of all, she knows we love and miss her and will be there for her. Always.
So, do you travel without your kids? What do you think of the article and the subject? I would love to have a discussion without anger or judgement.