The Importance of Family Vacations
By Dale Petersen MD – Building Health –
With the approach of spring thoughts often turn toward summer vacations. When my children were still young and living at home we spent two weeks each summer exploring a section of the country. We were fortunate to be living in the central United States, as we could drive to most destinations. One summer we would go west to see the Grand Canyon and surrounding national parks. The next year might find us heading north to Glacier National Park or east to the Great Smokies.
When my older daughter became an elementary teacher she would often relate her personal experiences as her class studied history or geography. From time to time one of her students would ask, Mrs. Claussen, is there any place you haven’t been?
We camped in a pop-up trailer and enjoyed the sights along the way. While we had a specific destination in mind, we had no set schedule as to when we would arrive so we were free to take detours and spend an extra day if we found a particularly pleasing campsite.
We had fun, but also experienced our share of challenges. My children often joke that I could write sequels to movies like Family Vacation and RV. Through good times and frustrating times we developed bonds that have withstood the test of time.
Although our trips were intended to be a time of relaxation they also became times of personal growth for each of us. Climbing out of the Grand Canyon, for example, proved to be one of the most physically demanding feats my daughters experienced as they were growing up. Knowing that they were able to continue on and reach the top when they felt as though they could go no further prepared them to overcome many different challenges as the years passed.
Over the course of my career I have known many parents who, faced with busy work and social schedules, rationalized their relative absence in their children’s lives by saying that quality time was more important than quantity of time. Having seen how greatly our family vacations impacted the character and maturation of my children I’m convinced that it isn’t possible to have quality time without first being committed to spending quantity time with each other.
There is no question that the times we were able to spend full days together over spring and fall breaks and summer vacations played a greater role in creating the individuals of strong and loving character my daughters are today than all of the days we were only able to see each other during meals or while helping with school work.
Cherish the time you have with your children. Block out time with them in your calendar before it becomes filled with professional and social activities. Committee meetings are soon forgotten, but memories of family vacations last forever. Take time to make them before it’s too late.
Dr. Dale Peterson is a graduate of the University of Minnesota College of Medicine. He completed his residency in FamilyMedicine at the University of Oklahoma. He is a past president of the Oklahoma Academy of Family Physicians. He had a full-time family practice in Edmond, Oklahoma, for over 20 years and was a Chief of Staff of the Edmond Hospital. He was active in teachingfor many years as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine through the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center.
Dr. Peterson left his full-time family practice in 1999 to consult with individuals who are seeking ways to restore and maintain their health through improved nutrition and other lifestyle changes. He founded the Wellness Clubs of America to give people access to credible information on supporting and maintaining their health. His monthly wellness letter, Health by Design, and his Health by Design E-Newsletter provide helpful information to individuals interested in preventing and conquering health challenges. His book Building Health by Design: Adding Life to Your Years and Years to Your Life was released in December 2010.
Dr. Peterson speaks regularly on subjects related to health and nutrition. He hosted a weekly radio program,Your Health Matters, on KTOK in Oklahoma City for five years. For the past nine years he has addressed questions from across the nation on his Your Health Matters weekly teleconference.He offers a free video LifeXtension course at www.drdalepeterson.com.