Sending Your Kids on Vacation Without You Is Good for Everyone
by Jeanne Sager
The death of our dishwasher also marked the death of a summer vacation for my family. We won't be going anywhere this summer because we just can't afford it. At least, my husband and I won't be going anywhere. We're sending our child on her own vacation.
It's something we've talked about doing a few times over the years but somehow never got off the ground. But now that she's 8 years old, we've decided it's time.
In a few weeks, she'll pack her bags and we'll pack the car, and she'll be off for a full week with my aunt (her great-aunt) and uncle and my two young cousins. They're so young that although they're my first cousins, they are actually very close to my daughter's age (one is less than a year older than her), but because of distance, they don't get to spend much time together.
This vacation for my daughter will fix that, will help bridge the gap that we generally have to mend with phone calls and online gaming. She can't wait. She's already got plans of games they'll play and toys she will bring.
For her, it's an adventure, the first of its kind. She's never been away from us for much more than a night or two, and even then it was just 20 minutes away at a friend's house or her grandparents'.
This will be the first time she's totally Mom and Dad-free for an extended period of time, far enough away that a call home won't (can't) bring us running. We will both be working that week, unable to drop everything and run if she gets a little homesick. It's one of the reasons we've waited so long, and why we're still uneasy about sending her to stay with grandparents who live nearly a day's drive away.
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But it had to happen.
As Michael Thompson, a clinical psychologist, opined in The New York Times this weekend, "As a parent there are many things you cannot do for you children."
Thompson was criticizing parents who refuse to send their kids away to sleepaway camps (not the ones who can't afford it but parents who just won't cut the apron strings) because he sees them impeding their kids' growth. As he said:
You cannot give your child confidence, you cannot pick or manage his or her friendships, you cannot always be his or her advocate/agent/manager/coach. Most parents cannot get their children to turn off electronics, especially in the summer, and most important, parents have a hard time urging their children to take psychological risks.
These are all reasons we're sending our daughter to Camp Aunt C. this summer. She needs to spend time with her cousins without us hovering, to learn to listen to another adult's rules, to live life the way another family lives for more than just one night.
A vacation away from Mom and Dad will be good for her emotionally. It will help her grow.
And I won't lie: after a month of summer vacation as a work-at-home mom with a kid constantly underfoot (even with babysitters trying to keep her occupied), I'm looking forward to it. As a number of parents admitted on Today Moms this week, vacationing without the kids is good for them!
Would you be able to send your child on a vacation without you?