With youngsters planning out itinerary for that long-awaited vacation with pals, the annual family summer vacation has become passe. But Barbara Fiese has reasserted the importance of such family vacations for family bonding and establishing togetherness.
Fiese, professor and chair of the psychology department at Syracuse University and clinical and developmental psycho, has claimed that an annual summer vacation or special summer time event for families can help in establishing a tradition that fosters togetherness and creates shared experiences for families.
In her opinion, while family life has faced a considerable change in the last half century, family traditions, like a summer vacation or outing, hold equal value now as they were back when father knew best.
"My research has found that family rituals such as this may provide feelings of belonging and closeness related to mental and physical health. Just remember that while high-tech gadgets such as portable gaming devices, MP3 players and DVD players are fun diversions, they should not monopolize the attention of individual family members during the whole trip or activity. Instead, consider finding a way to use the technology to create a shared experience, such as creating a family playlist for the MP3 player," she said.
In her latest book, "Family Routines and Rituals," (Yale University Press, 2006), she has discussed various research literatures and made her own studies for demonstrating how family routines and rituals influence physical and mental health, translate cultural values, and may even be used therapeutically.
Not only has she related bedtime stories with a special summer trip, she has also linked these occasions to significant issues including parenting competence, child adjustment and relational well-being.
"Rituals and family traditions are particularly important and convey that 'this is who we are' as a group and provide continuity in meaning across generations," she said.
Fieses' research has appeared in the Journal of Family Psychology, the Journal of Pediatrics and Family Process, among other publications.