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'How Do I Tell My Kids I Don't Want Them to Go Away For Camp?'

"I’m a teacher who’s off for summer break. I was excited to spend quality time with my tweens during the summer, but they’re now begging to go to sleepaway camp. Is it selfish to say no because I work the rest of the year and want to see them when I can?"

Don’t feel guilty for wanting to keep the kids close, but know it’s natural for children their age to want to get away. “Most kids love the thrill of being separated and independent from their parents while cohabitating with peers,” Milrad says. “Developmentally, they seek to spread their wings and find their own identity as a person.”

Before you issue a big fat no, consider what your kids stand to gain from sleepaway camp, like growing their independence or learning new skills. Then, evaluate whether you’re willing to sacrifice your needs for their potential benefit, says Milrad. Consider a compromise: See if there are any camps with shorter sessions so you can send them for just a couple of weeks instead of a full summer. Besides, it’s a safer bet to see if they actually like the sleepaway experience before you commit to eight (nonrefundable) weeks.

If you ultimately decide to skip sleepaway camp (hey, it’s expensive; you’re entitled), Milrad suggests letting your children participate in something on their own to make up for it. Options include specialty day camps (like for sports or STEM education) or a family vacation with a kids’ club for some parent-free activity time.

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