Everything Kids

Why an "Intense" Family Vacation Is Worth Taking

The Oscars are next Sunday, and once again, I haven't seen most of the Best Picture contenders. Like a lot of moms, some years the closest I get to seeing a nominated movie is watching its stars parade down the red carpet (which is why we have Netflix).

But one Best Picture nominee I'm bound and determined to see on the big screen is Selma. Focusing on a key moment in America's not-so-distant past and a key figure of our history, Selma is about courage, justice, freedom, fairness—"heartbreaking and inspiring," is how one reviewer described it.

Courage, justice, freedom, fairness: when you're a parent, these aren't abstract concepts. Every day, your children ask you questions that touch on these things, from "Why did he get more than me?"  to "What does 'blacklivesmatter' mean, Mom?"

Nathaniel Reade knew tough questions would come up when he and his family opted for an "intense" vacation touring the Alabama Civil Rights Museum Trail. Sons Henry, age 13, and Charley, 11, both history nuts, were old enough to be exposed to some "unsavory aspects" of America's past, but you may never really be old enough to understand them. Writing about their trip in this month's issue of FamilyFun, Reade tells how moved they were as they walked around Birmingham's Kelly Ingram Park, where statues honor four African American girls killed in a church bombing.  

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In Montgomery, at the Troy University Rosa Parks Library and Museum, they watched a vivid re-creation of Rosa Parks's arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus (that's a sculpture of Parks at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute).

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They got up close to more history at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized the ultimately victorious bus boycott, and at Selma's Edmund Pettus Bridge, a pivotal locale in the civil rights movement (and in the movie).

At every stop, the kids asked the kind of questions that makes parents take a deep breath before trying to answer. To explain why, for example, you'd sic attack dogs on unarmed protesters.

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But it's my belief that parents don't have to have all the answers. It's okay just to do your best to talk honestly with your kids about the big stuff. The Reades didn't have a typical vacation (no boogieboarding at the beach), but their intense vacation was rewarding, brought them closer, and actually gave them... hope. As Henry put it, "It shows that people can change things—even young people."

So... I guess you know which movie I'll be rooting for on Sunday (if I can just stay awake till the end!).

As FamilyFun's Copy Chief, Faye S. Wolfe fields questions big and small (How do you spell "labyrinthine" anyway?) from her editorial colleagues.

P.S. FamilyFun has family travel ideas in every issue and on its website: familyfunmag.com