As a child, going on holiday with your parents was a relatively straightforward affair; they bought the trip and paid for everything, you went along and enjoyed yourself, and didn’t kick up too much of a fuss during dinner. There was a clear hierarchy, and as such, holidays were many things, but never confusing. They were in charge, and you weren’t - it was as simple as that.
However, do the rules change when you go abroad with them as an adult?
If you’re ever been away with your parents beyond the age of 18, you’ll be aware that it can be a fractious experience. Here’s how to ensure you stay on the right side of sane and ensure that everyone has a great trip.
Remember that you’re not equals. Even if you paid for your own ticket and hotel, drove yourself to the airport and managed to peruse Duty Free by yourself, the minute your parents arrive, you will become five again. Don’t fight it. Graciously allow them to ask you anxiously when you last used the toilet and if you’re hungry, and silently reliquish some control. You can always get it back at a later date.
Feel free to show gratitude. If your parents have paid for the trip, there’s a good chance that they’ll continue to treat you throughout the holiday, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, don’t be embarrassed at the thought of offering to pay for dinner once or twice during the trip - your parents will be grateful that you’ve stepped up, and it’s likely they’ll accept your offer with good grace.
Old allegiances won’t work. Do you remember when you and your mum used to make a funny face behind your dad’s back when he was being a bit difficult? Well, we’re sorry to break it to you, but those old familiar behaviours won’t work any more - your parents are more than just a team. They’re two individuals you’ll have to contend with separately. Get used to it.
Don’t attempt to show how ‘grown up’ you are. Still a bit frightened of flying or squeamish at the idea of eating artichokes? Your parents probably expect that. Don’t go overboard and attempt to show them how much you’ve changed; you’ll only stress yourself out and confuse them. If you’re scared on the flight, admit it, and enjoy a glass of wine. Nobody’s expecting you to be perfect.
Resist the urge to fall into old habits. If your dad starts using a phrase that irks you or your mum begins to go on and on about a topic you’d rather not discuss, try not to let it get to you. You may have once rowed about these matters, but now is not the time - plus, they’re stuck in their ways, and they won’t change for you. Just accept that you’ll have to smile and change the subject once appropriate.
Don’t attempt to play them at their own game. Even though they’ll be less spritely than they once were and a little more confused by airports than you remember, your parents won’t take kindly to being fussed over. If they’re drinking too much (by your standards), don’t mention it. If they’re causing a scandal in the bar and dangerously close to doing the Macarena, either join in or button it. They were living life to the full way before you came along - and you don’t know any better than them.
Finally, let them get to know you. Your parents wanted to holiday with you because they like you as a person - remember? Don’t keep yourself to yourself and hide your true personality in the hope that this will ‘please’ them. Give them honest opinions, discuss the things that matter to you, be open about how you’d like to spend the day. They’ll value your input and they’ll be able to tell you’re happy with how the holiday’s going, which is better than going along with things and hiding your displeasure.
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