If your teen happily goes along with all of your family holiday plans, then move along now, there’s nothing for you here. If you have younger children, and can’t imagine them not wanting to travel with you, then make the most of it. They may laugh at your jokes and think that you’re beautiful, wise and lovely now, but, trust me, the day will come when you’re really embarrassing/ boring/ annoying/ repulsive to them, and they would actually rather stay at home by themselves than go anywhere with you (don’t take it personally, they’ll probably get over it, eventually.)
When that day arrives, these are your options.
- Your teen will probably want you to leave them at home – but this isn’t an option at all, if they’re under 16. It’s an offence to leave a child alone if it places them at risk, and you could be prosecuted. So, however much they beg you to do so, do not leave your child at home without an adult while you go on holiday. Especially because they’ll probably have a house party for all of their friends and acquaintances while you’re away, and your home will never be the same again.
- See if you can find a kind friend or relative to look after them while you go on holiday. This can be at your home or at theirs, but it needs to be an adult who you trust to be responsible for your child, and who can cope with teenage truculence.
- Take them with you anyway.
How to take a reluctant teenager on holiday
If you’re going for the third option, because you feel that you’d actually like them to come on your family trip, or if they have to come, because there’s nobody else to look after them, I have some strategies which may help you.
- Involve your kids in the planning of your trip. Don’t just book something without talking to them about it. It’s their holiday too, so be prepared to compromise, and take the time to find something which the whole family will enjoy. It’s unlikely that all of the family will be happy all of the time, but if everyone’s happy at least some of the time, you’ve picked the right holiday.
- If they’re passionate about something, see if you can include an element of it in your trip. My son loves football, and so we’ve been on some football stadium tours on our travels and we’ve also stayed at places where there’s football coaching on offer. When my daughter was thinking of studying medicine, we went on a tour of a medieval operating theatre in Bologna on a summer trip.
- Suggest that your teenager invites a friend or a cousin to come along with them on your family holiday. They’re likely to be happier with a friend to keep them company. Our then 14 year-old stopped saying that he was never coming on holiday with us again once we invited one of his mates to come with us on our summer holiday.
- Get a house-sitter to look after your home while you’re away. Your teen won’t want to stay at home with a stranger there.
- Bribe them. Offer them an allowance or reward for each day of the holiday, as an incentive to come along. You could also set conditions with this – maybe offer one rate for being there and a higher rate for being there and not being stroppy.
- Give them some independence and privacy on the trip. Don’t try to make them be with you all the time if they don’t want to (you are very annoying to them at this stage, after all).
- Remember that this is just a phase in their development. They’ll get through it – and so will you.
Over to you
Do you have any more tips to add? Has this happened to you?
More tips for parenting teens
I have a well-thumbed copy of a book which I’ve found invaluable for the teenage years, and which I’d definitely recommend. It’s called Blame My Brain: the Amazing Teenage Brain Revealed, and the author is Nicola Morgan. This book really helped me understand the science of what’s happening in teenagers’ brains, and the resulting behaviours.
Here are some more of my posts on parenting teenagers
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