Fathers and Family Vacations

C.J. Mahaney has an interesting set of posts especially for fathers on leadership and family vacations. (Here are the links:  Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Family vacations provide a unique opportunity each year for fathers to create memories their children will never forget. Memories that will last a lifetime. Memories that will be recreated by your children with your grandchildren. Memories that will outlive a father. But in order to create these memories, a father must be diligent to serve and lead during a vacation. How a father views his role on a vacation will make all the difference in the vacation.

C.J. shares the following seven lessons he has learned as a father relating to family vacations:

  1. A Servant Heart:  The father must enter family vacations committed to serve, lead, plan, initiate, and work, and do all this with joy. This isn’t your time to rest. Only your wife deserves to rest on vacation (because no one works harder than she does the rest of the year).
  2. A Tone-Setting Attitude:  The attitude of the father transcends the vacation location each and every time. And on vacation your children are carefully studying and monitoring your attitude. The father’s attitude is the tone setter, and a father who lacks joy and gratefulness will infect the entire vacation.
  3. An Awareness of Indwelling Sin:  Though you are going on vacation, you would be wise to remember that sin never does … A wise husband begins by anticipating how and where he will be tempted by sin on vacation. Ponder in advance your existing sin patterns and potential temptations on this vacation.
  4. Studying Your Family:  My idea of a great vacation is nonstop activity … But I’ve learned that this approach to life and vacations is not shared by my wife and daughters … How can you most effectively serve your family on vacation? … Find out what they would like to do and if possible make it happen, even if it involves just resting and relaxing.
  5. Skillful Surprises:  The most important effect of surprising our family is not the surprise itself but the communication of our deep affection for them through the surprise. Long after the surprise has taken place or the gift has outlived its usefulness, the expression of affection and the memory of the moment remains. Think carefully and plan purposefully whom you can surprise.
  6. Intentionally Together:  What a family does together is much more important than where a family goes together. It’s possible to invest some serious coin in a family vacation and not experience the deepening of relationships as a family … Remember, it’s a FAMILY vacation, intended to build the family together and deepen the relationships between family members.
  7. Gratefulness to God:  Vacations are a gift from God. I want my family to perceive God’s kindness and generosity each day, and I want them to express their gratefulness to God each day.

I have great memories of family vacations as a kid, and I know my Mom and Dad both worked hard to make it happen. How about you? Are family vacations an important part of your family traditions? What do you think about C.J.’s seven lessons?


  1. Jeff says:

    Having just come back from Disney World with my wife and kids the first week of May, I can say yes, we did drop alot of coin but, we had one of the best vacations together and my wife and I got to spend some great moments with my 3 kids building memories that we will have for a lifetime and we have pictures to prove it. Even though Disney is go go go, I was so far away from my responsabilies at work that I could not have gotten back even if they wanted me to. I forgot about work relaxed and became a big kid for the week with my wife and kids.

  2. Barrie says:

    Good for you Jeff, that is what a vacation is supposed to be.

  3. Ray Fowler says:

    Jeff – I agree. We have had some great family vacations at Disney, including a couple with you guys!

  4. Margaret says:

    Here are some memories from over sixty years ago! I was 11, and it was just after the World War. This was in England, and we had never had a car before, – we had always travelled by train and bus. So we got our first car, and my Daddy booked a vacation for us in Scarborough – a seaside resort.

    We were jammed into a very small car, the four of us, my parents and brother and me, with no place for luggage, and suitcases squeezed in beside us, and set off in great excitement.

    It was a wonderful time together, – I don’t remember what we did, except for days at the beach, but it was such happiness to spend time together. Not until afterwards, did I find out my parents were very disappointed in the small hotel where we stayed, but they never mentioned it during the vacation – “didn’t want to spoil it for the children.”

    But we children saw nothing wrong – to us, it was being together and having fun as a family. My Daddy took us on many vacations after that, all wonderful, but I still remember with joy that first time. It’s not where you stay, or whether everything is perfect, it’s family love that means the most.

  5. Ray Fowler says:

    Margaret – What a wonderful story — thanks for sharing!

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