18 Year Old Doesn't Want to Go on Vacation

Updated on February 13, 2010
D.K. asks from Shingle Springs, CA
14 answers

Our 18 year old daughter, whom is bi-polar, does not want to go on vacation with her dad, 14 year old sister and myself (mom). I can't decide if I should force her to go or not. If she goes with us she will probably make the rest of us miserable. If she doesn't go with us I will worry about her staying home alone. She tends to be forgetful and I worry about her forgetting to (or not wanting to) take her daily medication. I also worry about her cooking something on our stove and forgetting about it.

Should we make her go?

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answers from San Francisco on

I don't really know that you can make her. If she refused to pack and get into the car, what are you going to do? Is there a friend that you trust that you can suggest maybe stay with her or better yet, a friend or relative who she can stay with while you're gone. That's a tough one because of the medication issue.

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answers from Redding on

Dear D.,
As opposed to making her go, why don't you spend time making her "want" to go by discussing where you will be and what fun you will have.
You could also try tugging on her heartstrings by saying, "Now that you are getting older, it's really important to Mom and Dad and your little sister to have this family time together. Our girls are both growing up".
I know a lot of families that had special vacations at about that age when their kids were ready to head off to college.
It's not really unusual for any 18 year old to think they are too adult to go on family vacations. But, if you can have a little bit of something to please everyone, the kids I know never regretted going. Sometimes inviting a friend can help.
Maybe just tell her it won't be the same vacation without her and if she will come along and enjoy it with her family, you will discuss later about her staying home by herself next time, but that you had your heart set on this being special.
It's either that, or find someone else in your family or a very trusted friend to stay with her at your home to make sure she takes her meds, cleans up, cooks without catching anything on fire. If she doesn't want anyone staying there, she has two choices, go with you or have someone who can see she does fine on her own and they can do things and have fun too.
It's a bit of a compromise. Has she opened up to why she doesn't want to go? Are you driving in a broken down 1977 Station Wagon across country to see the World's Largest Ball of String or something? She may not find that fascinating.
Bi-polar or not, kids hit 18 or so and think they're too old for that kind of stuff. But like I said, they usually end up having a great time.
Oh.....I've known some "If I have to be here I'll just make everybody miserable" types. It doesn't last very long when they start having fun too.
If she insists on staying, let her know she will have someone with her while you're gone and that's that. Depending on how things go, you will discuss her being alone. But for now those are the choices.

I really hope she decides to go. I could use a vacation myself!

Best wishes!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

Since you have real safety issues, don't leave her home alone. Your options are to have someone responsible stay with her, have her stay at the home of someone responsible, or take her with you.

If you take her, can you let her have a lot of privacy and opportunities to do what she wants to do?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Have you determined why she doesn't want to go with you? Perhaps if it's the nature of the vacation trip, you can work out something that will appeal to her. This doesn't mean changing all your plans, but including something in them that will cause her to be more interested.
It may just be that she feels she needs some space and to be treated more like an adult. From what you have said, it sounds like you feel a need to constantly monitor her... and this is understandable with her bi-polar condition. However you also need to realize that she is going to have to live on her own at sometime and you need to prepare her for that. If she stays at home, I think the idea of having a good neighbor, friend or other relative who lives nearby, check in on her daily is good. Find someone who can do this with an attitude of friendliness rather than making your daughter feel she has to be monitored all the time.
You might also want to work with her on preparing some meals that she can simply pull out of the freezer and heat up in the microwave so you won't be as concerned over her using the stove and forgetting about it. Try to remember to phone her near mealtimes and maybe just conversationally ask her how things are going. That will give you the opportunity to assess things and maybe be a reminder to her.... just do it in a way that avoids giving her the idea that you are checking up on her, even though that may be your motive.



answers from San Francisco on

If you told her she could bring a friend along on the trip would that change her mind? I've known a lot of people who do that with their older kids.



answers from Dallas on

at 18 it is a hard decision, is there at least someone who can look in on her? if not i would make her go if she is able to live out on her own soon this might be one of the last family vacays she will go on...



answers from San Francisco on

Hello D.,
As the mother of 5 I have faced this with several children and one trip was to Disneyland, and one was a 5 state tour. Eventually as we were pulling out of the driveway our daughter got in the car with what she tossed in a pack& came to Disneyland, but we left a 19 &17 year old home for our tour. Even with Grandparents living 1/2 mile away and several family members close, they made good and bad choices(some we learned about years later). I will tell you that it is a power thing, anda way to make you enjoy yourself less because of worry. So keep your place as the parent and set firm boundries & expectations. Because one that stayed behind has BiPolor, I learned that I can't control medications,actions,andhad to trust that I had done all in my power to prepare tht child for independence. If no one wants to take this responsibility on then you may have to force the young adult to go. Just keep in mind whatever you choose will set a standard for many more decisions to come. I wish you well & understand that you have to make memories with your other child as well. Nana Glenda


answers from San Francisco on

Is there a close relative or friend who would be up for staying at your house with her or checking in with her daily?



answers from San Francisco on

Hi D.,

I had a similar situation and I had my 18-year old daughter stay with my sister and her family. I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving a teen with bi-polar alone for a few days. Could she stay with family or a close friend? One of my daughter's friends parents wanted to go on vacation and leave the daughter behind so they asked if she could stay with us. We didn't mind and my daughter was happy to have her over. Your daughter might feel comfortable staying with a good friend of hers and her family. If you are worried about her taking her meds, you can always text her to remind her everyday if that would make you feel better. I would try not to force her to go, unless there is no way she can stay at someone's house or if someone can't stay at your house.

Best to you and your family.



answers from Honolulu on

You are her Mom and you know her best and know her condition best.
If there is no other solution, besides making her go with you all, then she needs to go.
Or, what if this then leads to her purposely making everyone miserable every time she does not want to do something, as a FAMILY??? She knows you must all fear her acting out & being Bi-Polar, if she decides to be that way.
So you give in or not.

Yes she is 18... but as you describe, she is not responsible enough to be alone. And what if something happens to the house? And you will be responsible for that.

Or, you have someone, a relative, stay in your home WITH her, with rules and that's that. Making sure she takes her medication or not. Not her staying home alone. Certainly if she has never stayed home alone for any length of time... and PROVED that she can care for herself and the home.

And what if something happens, if she is home alone... and it involves the house or a neighbor or etc.? You will be liable for that.

She does not sound like she can responsibly care for herself or the home, if alone. As you describe it, and per her condition.

This is a family vacation, right? Well, when I was that age, and we had a family vacation, we ALL went. There was no choice in the matter. It was a FAMILY event. Otherwise, only my parents should have gone on a trip themselves.

all the best,



answers from Tulsa on

When is vacation? Next week? July? I think if it's a ways off then you have the opportunity to try her out and see how she does by herself. i worked for 10 years with adults with developmental disabilities. Many of them have dual diagnoses so they have double issues. If you take it slow and give her opportunities to become more responsible then you can judge better what to do.

I would think if you can take an overnight trip without her in the meantime, with some supervision from a trusted friend then you may be able to work up to a few days more at vacation.

If she is high functioning and does well in general then I think it is a natural progression for her to have more responsibilty. If she is having issues then talk to her Psychiatrist about respite care. We used to have a facility here called Transitional Living, it was a halfway house type place where people who had been in the hospital could stay and get services and not go home yet, maybe their living conditions were not safe or they didn't have a home. I also worked in a group home for Developmental Disabilities that had a room that was only for respite care. Every now and then a family would go on a trip and want to have someplace safe for their loved one who couldn't go.

If she was diagnosed under 18 years old then she may qualify for services under the devolmental disabilities act. You might call a local agency that provides services and talk to them. Even if she doesn't qualify they can be a good resource. If she is going to live at home for an extended period of time you need to have resources for future travel plans and she needs support for future independence. As we all know kids tend to listen to anyone but their parents at this age. Maybe one of these programs will help her learn the skills she will need to be independent and able to live on her own successfully in the future.


Here's one in Placerville

And here is the main site for California mental Health support.



answers from San Francisco on

Don't let her stay at your home unsupervised. Her magical age of 18 does not mean she has the rights of home ownership! Do you have a family member who will stay with her? Can she set up overnight "playdates" with her friends' parents and are you comfortable "training" them to provide the same level of supervision you do for her? Regardless of where she'll be while you're gone she's old enough to have the skills to maintain herself and her environment. Even if she's staying at other folks' homes she should be prepared to be a helpful guest. If you don't have confidence in her skills you should not leave her - period. While she is living under your roof she doesn't have adult privileges unless you grant them to her. Work with her to put together a meal plan, shopping list and go shopping. She can prepare meals in advance in the oven or on the stove with your *light* supervision and then wrap them up for freezing and reheating in the microwave. Luckily that has a set time and beeps when it's done :) You planned your vacation with her attendance in mind, right? Maybe all the training in cooking, laundry and cleaning in the meantime will have her looking forward to going on vacation with maids, restaurants and the like!


answers from Spokane on

Hmmm...tough call!

If you can't "talk her into it", I say you might have to let her stay behind. Do you have family/friends who can check up on her for you? She is 18. She's gonna have to learn to take care of herself w/out you sooner or later...

I would definitely try very hard to talk her into it first...and I mean hard...even if you have to say "please, please, please sis! come with us! It will be fun!"...bribery might be worth a try, as well :)

Good luck! Hope you have a wonderful vacation!


answers from Dallas on

Hi D.,
I would also be concerned about leaving her alone. Is there anyone you trust to let her stay with? Also, are you going somewhere she would enjoy?
My son would not be keen on going with us either if we hadn't let him have a say in where we are going.
Good luck and God bless,



answers from San Francisco on

I don't really know that you can make her. If she refused to pack and get into the car, what are you going to do? Is there a friend that you trust that you can suggest maybe stay with her or better yet, a friend or relative who she can stay with while you're gone. That's a tough one because of the medication issue.

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