You can survive a family vacation with the in-laws

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Instead of calling it “the 7 worst days of your life,” change the mantra to “this will be fun and interesting,” advises Wake Forest University Professor of Counseling Samuel T. Gladding, when describing a family vacation that includes your in-laws.


Time spent together on the beach or at another vacation place can help children bond with grandparents, Gladding said. “If you don’t have some exposure to extended family, you will never truly get to know them. It takes time, effort and expense to be in the same place with them. The dividend is that you get to know them and then you can build a relationship. That’s how people grow.”


Connecting with extended families is important because family members have skills, contacts, and abilities beyond those found in nuclear families, he said. Tapping into that family power is a good idea.


Plan the right activities. Arrange constructive activities that involve interaction, such as cooking or playing board games. A Gladding family favorite is charades because it is silly and makes people laugh. When people laugh together, they create good memories that help build relationships.


But don’t plan to spend every minute with the group. Set aside time to go out to eat or do some other favorite activity with your own immediate family. It’s okay to say, “For this block of time, we want to have just our small family together.”


If you set expectations in advance, no one will be surprised when you take a break on Tuesday night to go play miniature golf. It also gives the grandparents some space they might appreciate just as much as you do.

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