Ruin Your Family Vacation in Six Easy Steps

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Taking a vacation with your family can make your year. Especially when they are young, children look forward to these trips for months and have piles of memories afterward.

Because a vacation can be such a balm for a family, parents want everything to be perfect. But there are so, so many ways to fall short of perfect! Most of us are okay with imperfection, but we’d like to avoid disaster.

Partly out of my own experience, I offer six ways to ruin your family vacation. Though it may be too late for this summer, file these suggestions away for the future.

1. Ignore your children.

The kids will want to do childish things on vacation, like build sand castles, play in the water, and visit amusement parks. If you want to rest, you need a break from your kids. Let your spouse or parents handle the children as much as possible.

You might think you’re missing an opportunity to spend time with your kids. But you work so hard, right? Put your feet up and nap. You’ve earned it.

2. Be tight with time and money.

Your children will ask for LOTS of things on vacation. But stay strong; don’t go beyond the minimum. Money is tight and time is precious. Let this be your mantra.

Say no to the extra scoop of ice cream, the additional hour at the park, and the last ride on the carousel. Your budget and schedule are more important than these simple joys.

3. Be distracted.

Vacations offer a great chance to build relationships and engage in conversations. But that doesn’t sound very relaxing, does it? So make sure you’re not present.

Hang around in the background, but take your mind and attention elsewhere. Put your nose in a device and convince everyone that you’re busy with Important Things. (Acting annoyed can help, just ask George Costanza.)

4. Insist on your own way.

Let your family know the places and activities you enjoy, and push hard to prioritize all of them.

In the interest of fairness, you’ll probably have to go to some places you don’t love. As you get dragged along, make sure your mood is sufficiently sour to ruin the experience for everyone else. If you make your displeasure known (non-verbally, of course), then next time you’ll either be left out or the activity will be cut from the schedule. Either way, you win!

5. Don’t lift any burdens.

Though vacations present an opportunity to bless others, don’t go out of your way to do anything extra. You need your rest.

The person in your house who cooks, who does the laundry, who cares for the children most of the time? Let them carry on as usual, unless that happens to be you. In this case, insist on your right to a break. Enlist someone else to take up your slack (and try to ignore the hypocrisy).

6. Abandon all spiritual practices.

Vacation is about rest and fun. So, cast aside anything that feels like work, including your spiritual disciplines.

It’s easier to read a novel than the Bible, right? Who wants to pray as a family when you can watch TV instead?

By taking a break from your spiritual life, you tell your family (and especially your children) that there is no joy in following Christ, only duty. You also communicate that it’s okay to set aside your efforts to love and obey God whenever the mood strikes.

The Big Idea

There are lots of ways to ruin a family vacation; I’ve just picked the low-hanging fruit. The big idea is to make the vacation all about you. Don’t serve others, and don’t make any sacrifices.

If you follow these steps, you’ll not only ruin your vacation, but you’ll be well on your way to poisoning all of your family relationships.


Photo Credit: anonymous (2009), public domain

How to Fall Through the Cracks at Church

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Many churches are looking to welcome visitors and help them get connected. They want an active congregation, involved in both the work of the church and in the lives of others.

But let’s be honest. That’s a real drag.

Between work and family, you have plenty of people making demands on you. You want the church to be there for you on Sunday and in the event of a crisis. Otherwise, you don’t want to be bothered.

It’s easy to find advice on connecting with a church. It’s harder to locate help resisting this type of connection. I’m here to serve.

The Most Important Principle

Let’s put the best advice on the table: keep to yourself. As much as possible, dodge every opportunity for a deep conversation or friendship.

This is more difficult that it sounds. Avoiding others is easy in an office setting, but most churches are full of people who want to nose their way into your life.

You’ll need to walk a thin line. While you don’t want extra people around, you need to convince the church you’re on the inside. The last thing you want is someone to “evangelize” you. That’s the worst.

Practical Matters

To keep those church folks at arm’s length, consider these practical matters.

Choose your seat carefully. — You might be tempted to sit in the last row, but this is a rookie mistake. Seasoned church-goers know this is where avoiders lurk, and they’ll pounce. Instead, aim for 2/3 of the way back in the sanctuary. Here you’ll sidestep the over-eager, way-too-nice families in the front half of the room, but you’ll escape the target that comes with the last row. Grab an aisle seat for a quick exit.

Greet the pastor. — That preacher dude is fast. You’ll never beat him to the exit, so resign yourself to a handshake. Compliment his sermon. Most pastors obsess about their preaching, so this flattery gives you cover to slip out the door.

Act busy. — Nosy Christians will shift into gear when you attend the same church a few weeks in a row. Be prepared: they’re going to start inviting you. To what? To everything. Extra services, prayer meetings, Sunday school, small groups, Bible studies, fellowship meals, you name it. It’s exhausting. The key here is to act busy. Feign interest in the group or class or project they’re promoting, and decline with an apology. After all, you have work/kids’ activities/family time, right?

Attend irregularly. — Don’t attend every week. Make it a point to miss at least one Sunday each month.

Hide. — Not literally, but practically. Wait as long as possible to fill out a contact card, because then they have you. With your phone number, address, or email, they can visit or get in touch with you. Ick. Be polite but withdrawn. Make sure you’re slow to return calls, texts, or emails. With apologies, of course.

Keep conversation fluffy. — Sooner or later, you’ll get trapped in a conversation. Try to steer discussion toward work, weather, or sports. If that doesn’t last, lean on Christian clichés: Mention how much God has blessed you, but focus only on health and safety. Complain about how little regard our culture has for Christianity. Give off an aura of thoughtfulness, but don’t get specific—that might open the door to a follow-up question next week.

Bad News Ahead

Now, for the bad news. You’ve got difficult work ahead of you. In fact, the only foolproof way to slip through the cracks at a good church is to stop attending.

See, those church people aren’t just reaching out because they want a bigger club. They actually love you and want good things for you. They know that connecting with Christians can have a profound spiritual impact on your life.

Brace yourself.


Photo Credit: Nathan, Creative Commons License