SOMEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN — As a teenager, I know the pain of the “Family Vacation.”
But I recently had an experience that changed my view of vacationing with the family forever.
That’s why I would like to take this opportunity tell the parents of teenagers out there about a way to take your children on vacation and let the whole family enjoy themselves.
Here it is, in four easy to remember words: Go on a cruise.
Let me start by enlightening those parents who are still in denial. Sorry, but no matter how well you think you know your child, I guarantee you that her idea of a fun-filled week does not match your own idea.
What most teenagers and parents need is a vacation from each other.
But don’t worry, there is still a way of taking that horrible Family Vacation without experiencing all the aggravation and grief that togetherness brings.
That’s where taking a cruise comes in.
The cruise is the ultimate family vacation for many reasons.
First, it is perfect for any age because there is a wide range of activities. So, as in my case, if the parent likes to get up early and spend the day hopping from one (in my view, pointless) activity to another, and the teen likes to do anything but that, then you both can do as you please without even having to consult each other.
Just because you came together doesn’t mean you have to stay together.
Besides, most formally held activities are based on age groups, so parents won’t have any interest in doing the things their teenagers plan to do.
That brings me to the next reason why a cruise is the perfect teen/parent vacation.
At the delicate stage of life that teenagers are in, some find it down right embarrassing to be seen in public with their parents — and I’m not necessarily talking about myself here, Mom.
That problem is already solved by the “do as you please” concept.
Another potential Family Vacation quarrel that is also solved on a cruise is a teenager’s need for freedom. Since the worst thing a teenager can do on a ship is fall overboard, it was my experience that all the parents of kids I met (with my own included) let their children have almost complete control over their seven days at sea.
This often means not waking up until noon, eating soft serve for lunch, spending most of the evening at the dance club or arcade, taking a trip to the midnight buffet, and finally returning to the cabin way past her bedtime, or however else she cares to spend her day.
And as for the staying out past your bedtime part, most of the parents practiced that habit as well.
There is one final reason why a cruise is such a good idea.
This one is for parents who want to get away from their teenagers for a while, but would also like to spend some family time.
On the cruise ship I took, all the little kids, teenagers, and adults returned to their cabins every evening around 6 o’clock.
Each person dressed up nicely, and they went, as a family, down to their designated dining hall to have a pleasant dinner. These families of teenagers and parents where even seen laughing and enjoying each other!
This is, perhaps, because they didn’t have to be with each other all day long. In any case, I’m not sure the same thing can be said of a dinner during any other kind of Family Vacation.
So there you have it! A vacation where you can get away with the family, and get away from the family at the same time. Bon voyage!
Amanda Lehmert is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.
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