No Vacation Nation Creating Next Generation of Work Martyrs

New Study Reveals America’s Lost Week Harms Kids

Washington, DC—Work stress and parents’ inability to disconnect are stealing the quality family time kids need, according to a new Project: Time Off report, The Work Martyr’s Children: How Kids Are Harmed by America’s Lost Week. The report, released in conjunction with the Upside of Downtime Forum, asked kids how they feel about their parents’ work habits and what it means when they miss out on the quality family time vacation provides.

Parents may be surprised to learn just how closely their children are paying attention. Six in seven kids see their parents bringing work stress home. Further, 75 percent of children say their parent doesn’t fully disconnect from work at home. These findings, combined with previous Project: Time Off research that revealed Americans take nearly a full workweek less of vacation than in 2000, show that kids are clearly missing out on the quality time they need.

While the vast majority of kids (86%) are understanding of work interruptions, six in ten (59%) kids say they are upset by their parents’ lack of presence – a disappointment only sharpened knowing 82 percent of kids want their parents involved in their lives. This desire for involvement is greater in younger children, but not by as much as stereotypes about teenagers would suggest; this want is true for 89 percent of 8-10 year olds, 80 percent of 11-12 year olds, and 74 percent of 13-14 year olds.

“A child automatically admires a parent,” said Michael Gurian, marriage and family counselor and co-founder of The Gurian Institute. “A work emergency doesn’t disrupt the connection—kids can think it’s neat that their parent is important. But if emergencies become regular, the pattern changes and children can become resentful.”

The good news is the answer to quality time is not out of reach. Sixty-one percent of kids say the way they want to spend quality time with their parents is on vacation. Yet, nearly a quarter (22%) of working parents reported that their last family vacation was more than a year ago.

“Parents need to heed this report’s warning. Today’s children are missing out on the memories and traditions cherished by previous generations,” said Katie Denis, report author and senior director of Project: Time Off. “It’s time to change our behavior before we create the next generation of work martyrs.”


GfK conducted a survey from July 30-August 10, 2015 of 754 children ages 8-14 using GfK’s KnowledgePanel®, a large-scale online panel based on a representative random sample of the U.S. population. Parents were screened at the outset of the survey with a set of brief questions and to obtain permission for their child to participate. To further explore the issue, GfK conducted interviews with noted family experts: Dr. Lotte Bailyn, a published author and professor emerita at the MIT Sloan School of Management; Dr. Gilda Carle, a relationship expert and professor emerita at New York’s Mercy College; and Michael Gurian, a marriage and family counselor and co-founder of The Gurian Institute.

Upside of Downtime Forum
The Upside of Downtime Forum will gather Arianna Huffington and Randi Zuckerberg for a dynamic discussion on the value of vacation and the need to fight America’s work martyr syndrome. During the forum, leading organizations and experts who have worked to change America’s no vacation culture will be honored with the inaugural Project: Time Off awards.

  • Project: Time Off Culture Award Recipient, MasterCard
  • Project: Time Off Culture Award Leadership Recipient, Arianna Huffington
  • Project: Time Off Culture Award Inspiration Recipient, Jack and Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation

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About Project: Time Off
Project: Time Off is an initiative supported by the U.S. Travel Association to prove the personal, business, social, and economic benefits that taking earned time off can deliver. We aim to reclaim America’s Lost Week and shift culture so that using personal time off is not considered frivolous, but essential to strengthening relationships and improving personal health; a business investment with proven returns; and an economic necessity. Learn more at