Emotional Health · Family & Friends

Dr. Ford: The Family Vacation

fordCecilia Ford, who has been a psychologist in private practice in New York City since 1987, has addressed emotional issues for Women’s Voices in many articles over the years.


Photo by Flickr user Bill Barber (Creative Commons License)

Dear Dr. Ford,

Our family has spent a two-week summer vacation on the farm where my husband grew up in the Midwest since our children, now 16 and 14, were born. My husband’s brothers and sisters all congregate at the family house during this time, from around the country, bringing their children, our children’s cousins. We live in a major urban area and our children are much more sophisticated than their cousins but we believe that our children have developed a real understanding of family and how people who are different from them, but who are their relatives, live rich and fulfilled lives without the benefit of private schools, cultural advantages and a more liberal political framework.

This year my daughters were ill behaved and snobbish in their behavior toward their loving extended family. Not in a way that was acknowledged by these generous and exemplary people, I might add. I am so angry I don’t know what to do and have no idea how this happened. My husband and I have not decided what to do about this situation yet and I thought I would write to you to ask for some guidance.



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Dear Bonnie,

I can certainly understand why you and your husband have treasured these family vacations and made an effort to ensure that you are there every year. The sense of place, of family, ritual, and continuity these trips provide are nurturing for everyone. However, the children are growing up and their reactions to this milieu have changed for the time being.

The problem you describe, your girls being snotty to their cousins, probably has several determinants. Part of it may be developmental. As city girls, they may be more sophisticated than their cousins. As adolescents, their awareness of the world around them, especially social cues, is undergoing a transition. While young children usually have a lot in common with any child close to their age, the older we are the more things like shared interests, personality type, and developmental level become important. As adults we don’t become friendly with someone simply on the basis of age. While that may be a factor since people of the same age share many interests, it is not usually the most important factor. Other things make much more of a difference in finding a basis for friendship.

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  • Andrea August 18, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks for this Cecilia! Brings back memories of sharing a summer house for 10 years with another family and their kids- lots of fun/ stress!!!’ Definately a good learning expense for all

  • Anne-Mette Halvorson August 18, 2016 at 9:02 am

    This is a fabulous article and is extremely helpful for me, as a mom of a teenage daughter!