Care and Feeding is Slate’s parenting advice column. Have a question for Care and Feeding? Submit it here or post it in the Slate Parenting Facebook group.
Dear Care and Feeding,
We have three kids. Our daughter is nearly 13 and the eldest. We have been discussing what to do this winter for a family trip, and my daughter insists she doesn’t like skiing and has no interest in going.
The kids have been on skis since they were 3. They’ve skied and/or snowboarded every winter. The boys, my husband, and I love it. We’ve traveled every winter to a ski destination and have been careful to choose places that offer a wide range of fun winter activities (like dogsledding, tubing, snowmobiling) and a fun town vibe that the kids can enjoy. Our daughter grumbles every time we go skiing. She’s really only good for about half a day on the slopes. She’s a good sport and resigns herself to going because she wants to travel, but we really don’t want her to hate it and we want her to have good memories of family trips. My husband and I sometimes will take an extra weekend and go by ourselves, but we feel guilty a little bit because the boys want to come too, and we LOVE watching them explore and have fun on the slopes.
We don’t only take the kids skiing. Travel is a big deal to my husband and me. We’ve taken the kids to a few National Parks, big cities on each coast, Disney, and are currently saving for our first trip overseas.
I know some of this behavior is normal teenage behavior, but she’s always maintained she doesn’t like skiing. Her idea of a fun vacation is sitting in the sun on a beach somewhere, which makes my husband and me cringe (we can’t imagine anything more boring or miserable). How do we manage the disparity in preference to vacation types and activities? We’ve reminded her that one day she’ll be happy for the skills and experiences she has. Do we just keep planning these trips with compromises to places that have activities she can take advantage of (even if she doesn’t) and remind her when she’s paying the bills and designing her own trips she can sit on a beach all day?
—It’s Not a Family Trip Without Her
I doubt that your almost-13-year-old needs to be reminded that she doesn’t pay the bills, nor do I believe her current lack of disposable income overrules her right to express her likes and dislikes. I realize some readers might not be able to find much sympathy for a kid who just isn’t that into her family’s annual ski resort visits, but honestly, I do feel a bit sorry for her. Sure, being part of a family means occasionally going along with a plan or activity we may not