Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, but when family obligations are involved, vacation planning can become a source of contention. In every case, conflict resolution is dependent on carefully listening to and empathising with the opposing party. Express yourself clearly and carefully, keeping the other person in mind. Maintain your decision by avoiding situations where you might be pushed to change your mind. To find a solution that works, collaborate with everyone involved in the conflict.
Method 1 Talking to Your Family About Your Decision
1. Choose a location that is free of distractions. When deciding how to tell your family or partner about your vacation, choose a quiet location. Do not, for example, interrupt your family or partner while they are watching TV or talking on the phone. Talking over dinner, for example, could be a good time to discuss visiting family while on vacation.
2. Pay attention to what your family or partner has to say. Pay close attention to what they say. To demonstrate that you’re paying attention, nod, lean forward, and make eye contact. When listening, be active. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner or family for clarification if you have any questions.
Rephrase what your partner or family member says from time to time to ensure you understand their main point in favour of visiting family during your vacation.
For example, if you have a partner, they may say, “Our vacation will take us very close to where my family lives, and we will be able to visit them easily.” “Oh, so you think it would be pretty convenient for us to visit your family on vacation?” you might ask.
Encourage your family to tell you exactly what their issue is with you not visiting them while on vacation.
Say things like, “I’m really curious why it’s so important for me to visit you, my family, during my vacation.”
3. Feel sympathy for your family. Empathy is the ability to put oneself in the shoes of another. To put it another way, imagine the situation from their point of view. If the conflict is between you and your partner, consider how you’d feel if you wanted to see your family on vacation but they didn’t. If the conflict is between you and your family, consider how you would feel if they refused to visit you during their vacation.
Try not to think of the discussion as a competition. Because you and your family (or you and your partner) have different ideas about how to spend your vacation doesn’t mean you don’t love each other.
Consider your partner’s reasons for not wanting to visit family during your vacation. For example, they might prefer to spend their vacation relaxing by the beach because their company had a difficult quarter and they want to unwind. Maybe your partner doesn’t like spending time with your family. Perhaps your partner believes you visit your family too frequently and wants the vacation to be a time for the two of you to connect without the pressures of either your family or theirs.
4. Deal with the specifics. Take your partner’s or family’s concerns seriously and assist them in finding an alternative. Declare your agreement with what your partner or family says you agree with.
For example, if your partner expresses a desire to see their parents, you could say, “I can tell you really want to see your parents.” Let’s go see them after our vacation.”
If a family member declares, “I am very sick and getting older.” “I’d like to see you during your vacation,” you might respond. “That’s correct. I’ll pay you a visit once my vacation is over.”
5. Do not dismiss your family or partner with a broad dismissal. For example, don’t tell your family, “You don’t need to see me while I’m on vacation.” Don’t say, “You don’t need to see them,” if your partner suggests using vacation time to see their parents.
6. Explain your feelings to the other person(s). Are you bored of going on vacation with your family because they constantly criticise you? Is it because they’re constantly yelling and fighting? Is it simply because your vacation is so brief? Identify and explain the reason to your family, whatever it is.
When expressing your emotions, be clear and concise. For example, do not tell your family, “I have a feeling I might not want to visit you during vacation.” I’m not certain. “I’m not sure how to explain it.” Instead, try saying, “I think I’d prefer to spend my vacation in China rather than visiting family.”
You might discover that telling a storey is the best way to explain why you don’t want to visit family on vacation. For example, you could begin your explanation with, “Do you remember the last time I came to visit you on vacation?” The baby puked everywhere, and I was hit by a car. It was dreadful. I don’t want to relive it or risk a recurrence.”
7. Avoid using accusatory words. Instead of blaming your family, say, “My vacation is always about you,” or blame your partner, say, “Our vacations are always about you.” You’re too self-centered,” explain your feelings using examples from your own life. Use “I” language, such as “I’d rather not spend time with family on our vacation” or, if addressing your family, “I’d rather not visit you on my vacation.”
Make no broad generalisations. Avoid using words such as “always” and “never,” as well as phrases such as “all the time” or “every time.”
Avoid saying, for example, “You always get your way when you go on vacation.”
Consider how your words might sound to your partner before speaking.
8. Maintain your focus. If your goal is to persuade your partner to accompany you on vacation to see your family, don’t get sidetracked by talking about the types of events or activities you want to do (unless, of course, this directly contradicts the argument you’re making in favour of bringing your family along). If you want to persuade your family that you have the right to spend your vacation however you want, don’t get sidetracked by conversations about how you’re ungrateful because they raised you and paid for your education.
For example, if you say, “I prefer not to visit family on my vacation,” and your family responds, “But I visited you while I was on vacation,” simply say, “Yes, and we had a great time.” That, however, was your choice. “I’ve decided to spend my vacation in a different way.”
9. Make use of pertinent information. Be specific when attempting to persuade your family or partner to see your point of view. Don’t say things like, “Someday, I’d like to visit my family during our vacation.” Instead, say, “In the last four months, we’ve visited your family four times.” “Don’t you think it’s only fair that we spend this vacation with my family?”
10. Maintain your composure. Do not yell or use foul language when conversing with your partner or family. When speaking with your family or partner, always be respectful and mature. Speak to them in the manner in which you would like to be spoken to. Do not hit or scream at your family or partner.
Breathing exercises can help you stay calm. If you feel yourself becoming stressed, close your eyes and take three deep breaths through your nose. Take a five-second exhale through your mouth. Rep until you feel more at ease.
Take a break if your emotions are running high and you or your partner/family are becoming overly stressed. “This seems to be getting us nowhere,” for example. Let’s talk about it more later.”
Method 2 Being Resolute
1. Avoid situations that will wear you down. If you’re talking with your family and they keep bringing up the fact that they’d love for you to visit them during your next vacation, you might succumb to their pressure. To avoid this, avoid spending time with family members who do not respect your decision not to visit family on vacation.
For example, if you’re on the phone with your father and he says, “It would be great if you’d visit me during your upcoming vacation,” simply respond, “Thank you, but I’ve decided to go elsewhere for my vacation.”
If he persists, tell him, “It was nice seeing you, but I’ll be heading home now.”
2. Allow yourself to feel confident and empowered as a result of your choice. You may feel guilty or as if you’ve done something wrong by not spending your vacation visiting family, but try to focus on the fact that you made the best decision for you, even if it was difficult. Remind yourself that you are not responsible for the reactions of others — it’s unfortunate if your family takes offence to your decision, but it’s not your fault.
No one, family or not, should make you feel guilty for the decisions you make, especially ones as insignificant as where you want to spend your hard-earned vacation time.
3. Make it a habit to stick to your decisions. Willpower is similar to a muscle. It will improve your ability to stick to your decisions and remain strong in the face of adversity if you practise it frequently. If you are easily swayed by the desires and commands of others, you will find it difficult to be steadfast in your decision not to visit your family on vacation.
Make more difficult decisions and follow through on them to develop the habit of saying “No” and sticking to it.
For example, if you’re on a diet, you might decide, “I’m not going to have dessert because it won’t help me meet my dieting goals.” Follow through on your decision and forego dessert.
4. Break up your vacation into stages. You’ll have a better chance of sticking to your decision not to visit your family on vacation if you take it one step at a time. Consider your vacation to be a process that includes steps such as making hotel reservations, booking a flight, deciding what sights to see, packing your bag, driving to the airport, and boarding your flight.
As you complete each step, you’ll notice that your decision not to visit family on vacation is getting closer to becoming a reality.
5. Don’t let your family rule over you. Once you’ve made the decision not to visit your family, stick to it. Be strong if, for example, your parents call you frequently to try to change your mind — or if your in-laws call to try to persuade your partner to change their mind. Simply state, “No, we’ve decided that we won’t have enough time to visit during our vacation.”
Allow the call to go to voicemail if they are calling excessively. Then you can schedule a callback when you are confident and ready to speak with them.
Remember that you are not required to inform your extended family that you are taking a vacation. You are under no obligation to inform them of your decisions.
Allow yourself to feel no guilt for doing what you want. Remember that this is your life.
6. Use your imagination to come up with something else to think about. If the guilt of missing your family vacation weighs heavily on your shoulders, you may find it difficult to think about anything else. However, if you allow your imagination to run wild, you will discover that it can be used to strengthen your resolve and help you stick to your decision.
Assume that your family agrees with your decision not to visit them during your vacation. These thoughts will help you relax and remain steadfast in the face of the conflict.
You might also find other ways to divert your attention away from the conflict. For example, you could curl up on the couch with a good book or go to the movies at your local theatre.
Method 3 Staying Positive and Avoiding Future Conflict
1. Solve the conflict as a group. Once you understand why your family values your visit — or why your partner values the two of you visiting their family — you can either reiterate your reasons for not wanting to visit family on vacation or agree that visiting family is a good use of your vacation time. Ideally, you’ll be able to resolve the conflict by reaching an agreement with your family or partner. For example, instead of spending four days on vacation with family, you only spend two days with them.
If you compromise and they continue to complain and try to make you feel guilty — for example, that two days isn’t nearly enough time — kindly and gently express to them that a short visit is preferable to no visit. You could say something along the lines of, “Yes, the two days went by quickly. I’m just glad our schedule allowed us to pay you a visit; for a while, it didn’t appear that we’d be able to see you at all.”
You may need to have a couple of conversations with all parties involved about whether or not to visit family during your vacation. If the other party is extremely upset, even obsessing over the situation, tell them you will continue the conversation later and give them some space to calm down. This will also give you the opportunity to gather your thoughts and recommit to your decision.
2. Bring the whole family. Instead of visiting family, either yours or your partner’s, invite them to join you on your vacation. If you have a partner, see if such a situation is acceptable to them. For example, if your family is going to Cape May and your partner wants to visit their family during vacation, ask them if they’d like to invite their family to Cape May as well.
3. Accept that you will not always be able to please your family. Your family may express disappointment or anger that you will not be visiting. If this happens, keep in mind that you cannot always make everyone happy. Given enough time, your family will recover.
If you know you won’t be spending your vacation with your family, don’t imply that you will consider it or that there is a chance you will.
Remember that even if you don’t visit your family during your vacation, they will still love you.
4. Avoid making your partner your adversary. Make a decision with your significant other before speaking with your family. After that, inform your parents or other relevant family members of your decision. If your parents, for example, inquire whether it was your partner’s decision to go on vacation without visiting them, simply respond, “We made the decision together.” This will prevent your parents from developing a dislike for your partner.
5. Please forgive your family. Forgiveness entails letting go of one’s anger or frustration. You might be irritated if your family caused a squabble over how you went on vacation without visiting them. However, clinging to your anger and frustration over the conflict will prevent you from ever getting over it.
Choose whether or not to inform your family member that you have forgiven them. If the disagreement over your decision not to visit your family on vacation caused a significant schism between you, you may want to call or talk to them directly to express your forgiveness. For example, you could say, “I forgive you for your part in the conflict that arose as a result of my failure to visit you on vacation.”
If you believe you contributed to the conflict by not visiting family on vacation, you could add, “I hope you can forgive me, too.”
6. Consider how you grew as a result of your experience with the conflict. When you were at odds with your family because you didn’t visit them on vacation, you probably learned something that could help you avoid conflict or better understand yourself. For example, perhaps this was the first time you did something that your family did not approve of. This may make you realise how powerful you are.
Whatever your situation, consider what you learned about yourself and your family as a result of the conflict.
7. Recognize that your family is not without flaws. If you are having a disagreement with your partner, parents, or another family member, remember that they are only human. You could do this by telling yourself, “They are only human, and thus flawed, just like I am.”
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