I was once asked if I thought it was possible to ruin childhood by traveling. Of course, my gut reaction was to give a smart-ass response and toss the question back in the questioner’s court by saying, “Do you think you are ruining your kids’ childhood by staying in one spot?” But of course I didn’t because I don’t believe a childhood is messed up just because some of us choose to travel and others choose to stay in one spot. I see benefits to both traveling and staying put. Neither is the RIGHT answer. Is there a RIGHT answer to this parenting gig? Isn’t it a bit individualized?
Does Travel Ruin Childhood
Here’s the thing, Will and I are messing something up in their childhoods. We all are. Whether we travel or stay in one spot, we are going to make mistakes. That’s life. The Sueiro family is just doing it with an ever-changing backdrop. But, are we specifically ruining childhood by traveling? We don’t think so.
What I can say for certain is that our family goals and values are much more clearly defined now that we are traveling. We have the time to focus on our family and what matters most to us. The following were our five key reasons for traveling with our kiddos when we started out three years ago, and they still ring true today.
We want to spend enormous amounts of time with them for
the remainder of their childhoods.
We value education and feel that learning through travel is priceless.
We want them to have an epic, out-of-the-box childhood.
We want to expose them to real-world experiences and people
who live differently than us.
We want to invest in making memories and building relationships
instead of buying stuff.
Now, if the above reasons for traveling are one day going to screw them up, we’re prepared to take that risk. I can see it now: “Mom, I wish you would have chosen to spend less time with us, because it really messed me up.” “Dad, how could you have ever thought that visiting the site of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima would be more educational than reading about it in a textbook?” “I wish I could have seen the world on my dime!” “Why did we have to go white water rafting in Costa Rica instead of buying a new flat screen TV?”
Who knows? Maybe they will be messed up by that last one. Now, I’m not trying to say that just because you live your life very differently than we live ours that your kid’s childhood will be ruined either. I embrace diversity in our human lifestyles and experiences. But, what it comes down to is that ruining a kid’s childhood goes deeper than the simplicity of traveling with them or deciding to staying put. I think we all know that.
Will they be pissed off one day because they missed the prom? Maybe. Will they dream of making that winning goal on a sports team? Maybe. Will some of the pop-culture jokes from their home country go over their heads? Maybe.
On the other side of the coin, had we stayed in one place, would they have been disappointed that we never ventured beyond Florida for family vacations? Maybe. Would they have wished for more family time instead of career and personal obligations taking precedence? Maybe. Would they have resented our constant pressure to make them shine in every aspect of their lives, because of our egos? Maybe.
Can you see how this can go either way? We absolutely can, and that’s why we decided the risk of “messing them up” through travel was worth it. There is no secret formula for perfect parenting or the perfect childhood.
In the end, this is our journey and our choice. I never presume to know what is best for anyone else’s children, and I demand the same respect in return. We are all here on this journey together as parents, right? We all love our kids, and we believe we are doing what is in the best interest of their mind, body and spirit, agreed?
So yes, Will and I are messing up something, for sure. I hate to break it to you, but you are, too. And, all of our neighbors are, as well. And, so is the CEO of Facebook and the parents in the remotest regions of the world. If it were not for the mistakes we do make in parenting, and the ability to learn from them, we would not grow, and history would continue to repeat itself.
Time is the greatest gift to share with each other. ~ Quvenzhané Wallis
So, to respond to the gentleman concerned that we may be messing up our kids’ childhoods, I answer this.
Yes, we are messing up something. However, what we are not messing up is giving them two parents who love them very much. Two parents who have taken great risks to give them lives full of love, dreams, and time. Avalon and Largo, when you look back on your life and our mistakes (because there will be mistakes), we hope you always remember that we gave you the gift of our time and love. And, we have never regretted it.
What do you think?
Your turn, readers! Whether you are traveling or staying put, do you have concerns about “messing” up your kids’ childhoods? Do you wish you could travel more? Do you wish you could stay put more? Let’s share. There is such comfort knowing that we all have concerns about “messing” up. We are all on the same team and the support we can offer each other is priceless. I like to say that there are not sides drawn in our home between the two ways of life described here. We do not believe in “team travel” or “team stay put.” We believe in team “parent.” As such, we believe that we all must stick together, be there for one another and share, so we can be sounding boards for one another. So, please share.
Also, if you are interested in ruining your kids’ childhood, your retirement, or any other part of your life through travel we can help. Check out our services to see which one best meets your needs.