General Vacation Weirdness!


Hi, I work in a very intensive summer program for kids. For six weeks I'm back and forth at home, under a fair amount of stress and see my kids a bit less. My husband is a reluctant but terrific SAH dad in the summer. August is our only time for vacation. Here are our options...

Our summer cottage on a great lake in NH.
Playing on our 20ft. motor boat, new (to us) this year.
Playing on our 26ft. sailboat in another lake.
Camping anywhere anyone wanted to go.

I don't say this just to go on about how fortunate we are but the problem is our difficult child absolutely refuses. It's ridiculous! He HATES the new boat, says it is old and slow (it's not, would pull a wake board just fine...). He refuses to sail, camp...etc. just wants to stay home and skateboard. My husband and I both feel like we are being held hostage. We're at a point where if he refuses to go we're going to completely take away all privileges like computers, movies out, rides anywhere etc. It seems so crazy. We have all these great things to do, we've said over and over that we'd love him to bring a friend, we'd go to skate parks etc. But no. I'm not sure it's about the boats at all, just the control. Other kids would be thrilled to have the adventures we want to have and it's hard not think about the what if's... Has anyone been through this before? Suggestions??
Well, I don't really "know" you yet, so I don't know how you might take what I'd say. So, here's hoping I don't offend you.

You're right; it isn't about the boats; it's about the control. Your cub wants it and it's not really his. He's 12. He doesn't have a right of refusal on a great many topics, so don't let him think he does.

You don't have to keep jumping through hoops trying to find something that will please him. What pleases him is watching you jump through those hoops. You don't have to give him that. You shouldn't!

Since no destination is going to please him, he doesn't get to vote. You pick and tell him he can choose to be happy or bored; it's his choice and not your problem.

My easy child is the one that nothing pleases and that's what I do. I pretty much say, "You don't like either choice? Well, this is what we are doing. You can enjoy it or not. Choose your own degree of misery; the rest of us are going to enjoy ourselves." She will drag and crab a bit at first, but generally chooses to get with the program after awhile. If not, well, I've already made up my mind that a crabby cub is a risk I have to accept. Some trips, we have mosquitos; some trips, we have noisy neighbors; some trips, we have crabby cubs. It is what it is. I don't argue; I don't cajole; I don't nag. When the cubs start to enjoy themselves, I don't comment on it.

Some of it is your cub's age, though. Many are pretty self-centered and rude at that age, but you don't have to be miserable just because they are. Our minister gave a sermon in which he said that God created teenagers so you're not sorry when they leave. It's true enough for 12 also.

And some is perspective. The more cubs have, the more they want, in many cases. I had a pal in college whose mother sent care packages every week. One day, he complained about the candy she put in the box because she was supposed to know he didn't like that kind. I stared at him and finally said quietly, I've never had a care package. I'd be grateful for anything I got. And years later, he told me that that comment had really stuck with him, because he hadn't really appreciated how much he had compared to others. I haven't a doubt my pal's parents told him that repeatedly but it didn't register until his peer said it. So, it may take a while for your cub to truly comprehend his good fortune, but of course that doesn't help you now.

So for now -- do what you like and let him choose his degree of happiness or misery. It's your life; don't be a hostage in your own home. Good luck and much love!


Well-Known Member
Hi, I have this exact problem! I have 2 kids who are like this, easy child kids. I am willing to take them to the beach every day. We live close to a vacation destination, it's in our backyard- I made them go , I dragged them basically. They didn't go in the water, just sat there- but I went to meet my friend,(figuring they would have fun if I wasn't there) we took a walk, went out to lunch and when I came back they were still there, waiting to leave. One of them, didn't put enough sunscreen on and was burnt-he blamed me!!!!He is very fair , blond, blue eyes ..anyway I will never take them there again, it wasn't worth it. I suggest you and the rest of your family go without him. Is there somewhere else he can stay? Don't give him a choice, he shouldn't have the power to ruin everyone else's fun. -Alyssa


No offense taken, not one bit!! My husband and I are in the midst of shopping for spines (one for him, one for me). We will pay any price! It's all great advice and it's all what we know we need to do... It's the threat of violence or running away that freaks us out. What we have to come to terms with is that it may come to bringing in a third party...(as in 911) and we have to go with that for our sanity and for what is best for our difficult child. Thanks again.