Marital, Family or Individual Therapist serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana

Vacations Can Build The Very Best Family Memories
Written By: Mark Smith

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I have heard countless unhappy stories when I ask clients about their childhood experiences. The sad tales include alcoholic parents, abandoning parents, too busy parents, abusive parents, etc. However, there is almost always a really heart warming story or two from even the most dysfunctional of families. They tell me stories about their family vacations. Even after a good cry or two from the sad stories their eyes light up when they get to the old vacation stories. They say "dad was really fun on vacations". It always makes me thankful for them that there truly were some good memories.

As you might guess, it is spring break. I'm writing this our by the pool at our Myrtle Beach condo. Since I write whatever comes up in a particular week my material for this column was obvious. I want to advocate for more vacations for all! Vacations are a great investment in your families. Every other year my wife and I engage in a battle that takes up most of 6 months. It is the husband wants to spend all of our money on a cruise fight. My lovely wife is a saver, bless her heart. She would rather dump what little excess funds we have into a tax saving IRA at year's end. I'd rather blow the whole thing on a Caribbean cruise. I don't care what the destinations are and I don't care which cruise line - I just love partying with my family on a cruise ship. My 11 year old daughter wrote a memory book for school and when asked what her very best memory was she said it was snorkeling in Cozumel with the family the previous summer while on a cruise with the family. That gave me warm fuzzes all over. My best family memories have definitely been on cruises with the wife and kids.

The very saddest stories that I hear are from the families of notorious workaholics who are actually proud that they didn't take vacations for 20 years plus. That is not anything to be proud of - it is tragic. It is awful. Your job doesn't need you nearly as much as your kids do. Take some time off. Get away. You can't afford not to go. Play games with your kids. Take them to exotic fun places. Time flies so fast. How my 16 year old son got to be almost as tall as me already I don't know. Just yesterday he was a giggly 1 year old who thought it was hysterical to kick daddy as he was swinging on a swing.

Sure, going on vacation does carry some hassle factor with it. You get stressed out getting ready to go out of town and you get buried when you get back. And, of course things do go wrong. This year the latch on our mini-van back hatch got jammed so I was searching for tools while the rest of the family went to the beach. It was a mini crisis, but we figured it out. Magical moments are worth all the hassle. A magical moment can be big or small - you just have to recognize them when they happen. On the way here we stopped at a Subway for lunch. Since it was cold in the shade my wife went and sat in the sun on the grass. Our youngest joined her and they had an intimate little moment. I captured it on my nifty new camera phone. Maybe you had to be there, but it was really sweet.

Ok, now let me tell you about the families who didn't make time for vacations or for everyday living together. The little girls in families like that grow up and marry workaholics who then ignore them as their fathers did when they were little. They take the kids on vacation alone, with dad maybe showing up for a day or two that he usually devotes to golf. You marry your unresolved childhood issues unfortunately. So, taking time to invest in your family can insure much better marital experiences in the next generation.

Plus they can be so much fun. One of our family traditions is to grab whatever bread is leftover from the week and then head out to feed the seagulls one last time before we get in the van for our return home. This is when we take movies and lots of pictures. It is our time to get closure with the beach. We also always rent the little beach bikes for a spirited family ride. The there is the annual trip to the all you can eat seafood buffet to see just how many crab legs drenched with better that dad can inhale.

Sit down with your spouse and your kids and make a plan - two weeks of quality vacation time this year. When can it happen and where does everybody want to go? If you have to go into a little debt then do it. It is a priceless investment in memories. When you look back on your life you will NOT regret going on too many vacations with your family I guarantee you that. You very well might regret not going on enough vacations though.

By the way, Relationship Jazz is a year old this week. I have really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to another great year of writing. See you next week.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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