Do something fun on your vacation (even if it’s not fun for your kids)

How to have a happier family vacation

Photo by Willian West on Unsplash

It does kids good to do what you want to do—and not just once in a while.

Who’s in charge on your family vacation—you, or your kids? Here’s something I learned while researching How to Be a Happier Parent: well over half of parents who travel with kids say they make their children’s happiness the first priority on vacation. And here’s something else: happier parents don’t do that. Instead, they plan trips (among other things) around everyone’s interests, and (within reason) expect everyone, kids included, to be a good sport about the part of the vacation—be it the tour of Ben and Jerry’s or the lingering visit to the craft gallery—that isn’t exactly what they’d choose.

Here’s another interesting research tidbit: parents say that what we want most is to raise caring children. But when we put our kids’ needs first and don’t ask them to consider ours, we don’t even give them a chance to be the people we want them to become.

Adding an architectural site or an art museum to a vacation itinerary seems like a small thing. It is a small thing. But it’s a small thing that makes a big difference. When we consider everyone’s interests and desires when we plan our fun, we teach our kids we expect them to find joy in sharing the pleasures of others as well as in the pleasures they themselves seek. Our children can do that. But if we don’t ask it of them, they’ll never know it—and neither will we.

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