Dear Carolyn • In the mid-1990s, when I was 22 and my brother was 18, our family took a Caribbean cruise. It was fun, but not so much fun that I cared to go back again. Now that my parents are in their late 60s and retired, my mom has gotten it in her mind that all four of us should take another cruise together as a family. They have even offered to pay. Aside from not having an interest in the cruise, I am also not interested in taking a family vacation. I am single and in my late 30s, and a family vacation smacks of desperation, a way of saying, "Oh, how sad, he didn't want to go by himself, so he went with Mommy and Daddy." Also, traveling anywhere with my parents is never a simple process. In short, a cruise might be a vacation for my parents, but it would be anything but one for me. I have repeatedly explained that neither a cruise nor a family vacation (wherever the destination) interests me. Nevertheless, the badgering continues. For the record, I take my own vacations, usually by myself. I also see my parents about once a month, so it is not as if I ignore them and am being "guilted" into a vacation. Any thoughts?
Dear Badgered • Disclosure 1: I see badgering as one of the Deadly Relationship Sins. 2: I believe adults can say no to a vacation for whatever reasons they want, except possibly to their intimate partners. 3: I have no interest in a cruise, though I'd go with my mom if I could. Opinion, finally: That's your reason for refusing to go, fear of looking desperate? To whom? It also takes a certain stubbornness to use a trip at 22 in the mid-'90s as the template for your visions of this proposed trip. Also project to 10 years from now; will you look back on this "no" with regret? What if your mom or dad dies or gets sick? If you're hearing violins at this point, my apologies. It's just that people can be absolutely sure they don't want to do something, and absolutely entitled to those reasons, and still be wrong in a way they don't give enough credit: the big-picture, emotional, just-because way. I'm not advising you to say yes, just to think more broadly about that "no."