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TELL ME ABOUT IT

Teens can decide how to negotiate camping trip

By Carolyn Hax

This article was published March 14, 2013 at 2:14 a.m.

DEAR CAROLYN: My child is a senior in high school and will be graduating in June. Instead of the usual beach week, my child’s group of eight to 10 friends wants to go camping. I think this is a great idea and fully support it.

Within this group of kids, there are two couples. The mother of one of these four kids insists on going along, even though she has given her child permission to attend the same out-of-state college as her child’s significant other.

All of these kids will be 18. They are all trustworthy, smart, church-going kids with high morals. They want to avoid the beach week party atmosphere and have their own fun. My child is frustrated, and several of the kids are considering canceling if the parent goes along. Am I viewing this from the wrong side?

  • Anonymous

DEAR READER: I think the only way to view something from the “wrong” side is to view it from only one.

As long as you waited to form your opinion until you considered the perspectives of others - including the seniors, the other mom, anyone who knows anything about camping, and, for some literary flair, a disinterested omniscient narrator (who’s cringing, I suspect) - you satisfied your obligation to be fair.

After that, if you feel strongly that this mother is overstepping, then talk to her.

Or, if you believe well-behaved 18-year-olds have earned the right to be treated as adults, and that’s why you think the mom is overstepping, then back that up: Let your child and the rest of the group decide how they wantto handle their uninvited guest. It’s within their developmental range to cancel the trip, renegotiate its terms in a way that satisfies this mom, or grudgingly have her along.

And if you believe “high morals,” church-going and smarts inoculate anyone against impulsiveness or temptation - I’m not accusing, I’m merely being thorough - then history just fell off its chair laughing. Don’t ask more than human beings can give. The trust you need here is trust that these seniors can handle themselves, not that everything will be s’mores and campfire songs.

DEAR CAROLYN: What are the options when your partner finds a topic of dissension (the couple’s financial position and habits, for instance) to be boring and doesn’t want to discuss it?

  • Won’t Discuss

DEAR READER: In Hax World, you’d secure your accounts, break up with this partner and seek adult companionship. I freely admit that world isn’t everyone’s happiest place.

The business of life is boring to execute, much less discuss, yes. Neglecting it, though, or putting your fingers in your ears and saying “NAH NAH NAH NAH” while other people deal with it for you, leads to the kind of excitement functional people don’t want to have, such as eviction, foreclosure and repossession; ruined credit; lost jobs, job-hopping or chronic underachievement; resentful grown children who wish you’d prepared for other choices besides homelessness or crashing with them; retirements projected at a dozen years after your expiration date; and the accompanying, unrelenting stress. Living responsibly is freedom; the alternative, chains.

If your partner is worth all this, then soldier on and disregard the childish attitude toward “boring” things. Otherwise, I strongly suggest you insist or cut bait. Oh - and secure those accounts either way.

Chat online with Carolyn at 11 a.m. Central time each Friday at washingtonpost.com. Write to Tell Me About It in care of The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071; or e-mail tellme@washpost.com

Weekend, Pages 35 on 03/14/2013

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