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Going away with your teens? It's time to bend the rules

"The pictures just don't describe what it's like. Lake Louise. It's amazing, isn't it, Justin?"

"Yeah, it's really nice."

"You're not even looking at it."

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"Yeah, well, I did. I looked at it."

"You're still not looking at it."

"Why are you always bugging me?"

"I want to go to the mall."

"But, Tricia, the mall here is going to be exactly like the mall at home, only smaller. We haven't come all this way just to go to a mall."

"I don't care. That's what I want to do. I want to go to the mall. I didn't want to come on this trip in the first place."

Summer vacations with a teenager can be challenging for even the best functioning families.

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"Look, I want to stay home, hang out with my friends, play Ages of Darkness II online and have as little contact with my parents as possible."

Family vacations are just the opposite of as little contact with your parents as possible.

There are advantages to being stuck together for a week or two: shared experiences, time for long conversations, some distance from the battles of your weekly routine.

Your teen may not see those benefits.

"I hate family campgrounds and I hate rental cottages. And I hate being in the car with my family. You should see the bathrooms at the campground. Dad says it's roughing it, and it's good for me, and Mom says I should be a good sport. But they're gross."

The truth is that what makes family vacations nice also makes them challenging. You're in each other's space more. You're in each other's faces more.

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