My wife and I sometimes get offers from her parents or mine to take our family on vacation (examples: a cruise, or summer family camp). We have two kids, 10 and 8.

The issue is that our parents tend to be very opinionated about when and where we go, and what we do, and their feelings are easily hurt if we ask to do something different.

Because of this, we tend to just want to avoid going on vacations with them at all. We don't get a lot of vacation time or have much money, and get more enjoyment out of that time when we have greater choice and flexibility. And to be totally honest, we'd rather family vacations just be the four of us.

We still visit with them often at our house or theirs, which is not problematic. But the vacationing aspect is new to me--neither my wife nor I ever did 3-generation vacations when we were young.

Question: what is the best way to gently say "we're not interested" when offered something like this?

  • 1
    Welcome to the site @thesnow, unfortunately I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not really a parenting question, but about family relations.
    – GdD
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 16:51
  • 2
    Some other place I can put this then?
    – thesnow
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 16:52
  • There's no stack exchange sites I know of about relationships or family relations, but there's plenty of forums out there. Netmums is UK based but lots of people from all over the world use it.
    – GdD
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 16:55
  • This question is open at the moment, so I guess it wasn't off-topic after all, but I'd like to remind you of Interpersonal Skills that's now in public beta.
    – SQB
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 20:31

4 Answers 4


How about this:

Thank you for your generous offer, but we will have to decline. In the past you have been very opinionated about the precise itinerary and have not enjoyed our request for some changes. We don't want to have a negative relationship with you guys, and I am sure you don't either.

As our vacation time and funds are limited we would really like to enjoy our time doing such and we would like it to be our choice on where, when, and what we do on vacation.

Notice how there are no accusations and by saying this you should not have to continually turn them down.

How you then respond to their response is dependent upon your goals. It seems like you would be open to vacationing with them if you actually had fun. Perhaps this could move into some joint planning sessions and actually fun vacations that would otherwise be beyond your budget.

If however, you just want to go on your own. Then simply state:

This year's vacation is just for us, but we would consider going with you guys next year.

You could always leave off the last part if you are done with vacationing with them.

As a parent of adult children, that do not yet have children, I am looking forward to providing three generation vacays. If my SIL came to me like this I would appreciate his candor and work to provide an amicable solution if one were possible.

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    Went with a variation of the second option, and it was received okay.
    – thesnow
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 20:35

I would suggest that your wife and yourself schedule a vacation and plan out the itinerary, make it something that you guys absolutely want to do and then invite the grandparents after all the plans are made.

Send them a message that says something like, "We are planning on going to Orlando, FL from 01-Aug to 06-Aug and we will be staying at the Holiday Inn. We are going to spend 2 days in the Magic Kingdom, 1 day in Epcot, 1 day at Animal Kingdom, and then fly home.

Don't give them room to plan outside of what you want to do. Tell them that if they would like to join you and your family that it will cost $1500 per person based on the plan and they can either choose to join you or not.


We spent entire summers with four generations. However, my grands let my mum and nanny worry about the day to day stuff and so as long as we were home on time for meals -- they seemed fairly disinterested in discipline. I loved them both. Granny played Scrabble and cards with me and my GrandPere took me sailing and fishing. These are among my best memories. Kids love older people who pay attention to them.

Perhaps you could ask your parents to keep out of most discipline and if they agree, try a vacation once? Maybe they can help pay for a cabin? If you do agree to try it once, tell them you want afternoons or a few days where you are on your own. If that is not acceptable to them, then there is a perfectly reasonable reason to say "no thanks".

Otherwise, just say it like you'd want to hear it from your kids. That day will come.


How about blaming the children:

It would be nice. The trouble is, the children get really bored at places like that. We want them to enjoy the holiday too, and that means doing kids things like {insert list here}.

  • Blaming your children seems too risky to me, since it gives a great opportunity to any opinionated grandparent to see it as clear evidence that you can't properly educate your children.
    – Pere
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 19:07

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