Dear Annie: My family recently went on vacation, and my 17-year-old son was an absolute pain. He refused to go swimming with us at the pool, saying it would be too boring. He wouldn’t wear a jacket and tie to dinner at the hotel’s five-star restaurant, and when I told him he wouldn’t be able to go in without them, he said, “Fine, I’ll get a sandwich somewhere else,” and that’s what he did. Whenever we went to the beach or shopping, he wouldn’t come along and instead toured the city on his own. When I said I didn’t care for his tone of voice, he gave me the silent treatment.
For the plane ride home, we got him a seat near the aisle so he could stretch out his legs. I told him, “You could at least say thank you.” Instead, he gave me a dirty look. When I saw that the woman next to him had a toddler who didn’t have his own seat, I made my son give up his, and the flight attendant gave him an empty seat near the bulkhead. I got another dirty look for that.
We’re planning to visit relatives this winter, and my son says he doesn’t want to go. I dread the idea of putting up with this nasty teenager who can’t appreciate any of the things we do for him. I want him to stay with his grandparents, but they’d rather not have him because he’s moody and they don’t like the way he dresses. Is it OK to let a 17-year-old stay home alone for 10 days? I have people who can check on him. – N.Y.
Dear N.Y.: Teenagers enjoy family vacations more than they let on, but not if the trips are geared entirely toward the parents’ preferences. Unless you are 100 percent certain that your son will be responsible for himself and the house, we don’t recommend leaving him without ongoing supervision for 10 days. See if you can get a trusted adult to move in for the duration. But we also suggest that you back off a bit. Your son reacts poorly to being fussed over in public by Mommy and Daddy. It embarrasses him.