The Agony and ECSTASY of Family Vacations

At least once on every family vacation we take, Marci and I look at each other in exasperation and say “We will never take these kids anywhere again.”  It’s a product of many factors, including the fact that our two kids are different genders and are six and a half years apart.  They argue.  They torment each other.  They never pay each other compliments.  And that’s when they are actually getting along. So why do we, and countless other families, repeatedly spend thousands of dollars on trips (sorry, when the kids are with us, it’s a “trip”, not a “vacation”) when the experience is in no way relaxing and the kids fight with each other (and sometimes with us)?  It’s something I’ve given a lot of thought to, and I think I figured it out.
Take a good look at the guy below.  Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last six years, you recognize him as Phil Dunphy, the Dad from “Modern Family.”  Marci and I are fairly introspective parents; we are always asking what we can do to be better at it, and my answer is often “More Phil, less Claire.”  Phil is the eternal optimist, refusing to believe that any situation is hopeless, even when his kids are trying to tear each other apart.  Claire can find the dark cloud in every silver lining, even in the best of times.  When our kids don’t do as we want them to do, our instincts take over and we typically go in one of the two directions…Philward or Claireward.  And more often than not, Marci and I both go Claireward…and it makes me crazy.

The Dad I kind of want to be…kind of

Vacations are my way of channeling my inner Phil.  Kindness, goodness, innocence, decency, selflessness, gratitude.  I just know those qualities are in great abundance in my kids because I have seen all of them, especially when they are not around each other.  And family vacations are supposed to embody those very qualities.  If my kids can’t demonstrate those character traits at a theme park or at a beach resort, then when can they?  So we pack our suitcases, drive or fly for hours, check into our hotel, and … hope for the best.  And you know what?  It never, ever goes exactly the way we want it to go.  They argue.  They blame each other when they get in trouble.  They complain.  And then they stop getting along so well.
​But something strange happens when a little time passes.  Marci and I break out our photo albums and look at our past trips.  And you know what we see?  Smiles.  Laughter.  Excitement.  Happiness.  Somehow the unpleasant moments fade from our memories, and we are left with … complete and utter moments of Phildom.  And that, my friends, is why we, and you, keep going back for more.
And for just a little while, my kids view me as the Cool Dad.  but I’ll leave it to Master Phil Dunphy to really explain what that means…
Find your inner Phil, guys.  Life is better when you do.  Until next time, take care. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with your friends.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, email, whatever makes you happy.
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