Coursing Stream

Vacations should be FUN!


Dear Tracey,

My parents live in Los Angeles, where I grew up. They’ve never adjusted to my move to the other end of the state and eventually, when I told them this was my home, they flipped. (They don’t like it up here. My mother summed it up once, saying “It’s too cold and wet and there’s no shopping.” My dad can’t be anywhere there isn’t some major sporting event to attend.)

We try to get down at Christmas but my in-laws live locally, so we alternate years. For the last few summers, my husband and I have been driving down with our daughters. It makes my parents happy. But I just need a break. The drive is miserable for toddlers, for all of us really. Sure, there is plenty to do down there but between the traffic, smog, and long lines everywhere we go, it never feels like a restful vacation. 

My husband and I work hard. We would love to just escape to the mountains and go camping with our girls but how do I tell my parents? They’re going to be so mad. The other thing is, if we don’t make the effort to get down there, my daughters will never see them. It hurts me but they just don’t visit here and they could. (You have to understand that my parents are only in their sixties, in good health, retired, and financially well-off. Coming up here once in awhile would not be a hardship for them.) 

I need to know how to do this so they won’t be too upset, even though I know they will no matter what. 

Thank you very much,
Needs a Vacation

Dear Reader,

Sitting here on this absolutely gorgeous, sunny morning, it’s too bad your parents haven’t managed to give our neck of the woods a fair shake. (And really, there’s nothing better than a Crabs game!) But more importantly, even if this area was the pit your parents described, I have to wonder how that could trump visiting a daughter, son-in-law, and precious grandchildren? Surely there are other reasons why they fail to visit? 

Whatever their reasons, your parents have managed to have things their way for a good long time. But life is ever evolving and now it’s time for a change. You have every right to enjoy a restful and rewarding vacation with your husband and daughters. It’s that simple.

Yes, they will probably be upset. You’re taking the reins that they have held for years. But believe it or not, knowing how they will react is actually helpful information. Why? It’s a reminder that you don’t have any control over their reaction. All you can do is express what you want and need in a respectful and caring manner. What they do with your decision it is their choice. 

Phone calls have limitations, as do emails but whichever form of communication you decide on, first write down what you are going to say so you can be clear and confident. 

Stick to the basics. Let your parents  know that they are the main reason you make the trip south and that you value time together, especially the opportunity it provides for your daughters to be with their grandparents. Remind them that the drive is taxing and that the other activities in LA are not a huge draw. Then explain that you and your husband have decided to give your family a different vacation, one that includes family time in a restful place. Close by emphasizing their value as grandparents and invite them to visit up here. 

Yes, this will surely rock the boat but it’s time to take care of your little family. I hope your parents can see the value in sharing some of the burden that comes when families live far apart from one another.

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