The annual family vacation turns into a battleground for the Original Poster (OP) and his wife, polarized over the perfect destination. While OP’s wife suggests a beach resort as the ideal getaway, OP vehemently objects, citing their older son’s recent traumatic experience at the beach that has left him with severe anxiety. As both parents dig their heels in, the future of the family holiday—and the family unity itself—hangs precariously in the balance.
The Annual Family Tradition
OP and his wife take their kids on a family vacation every summer. This year, after extensive research, his wife suggests going to a specific beach resort that offers several attractive amenities at a reasonable price. Immediately, tension fills the air.
A Firm “No” to the Beach
OP is shocked by his wife’s suggestion of a beach resort as a vacation for the family. Just months prior, their older son had witnessed a traumatic incident at the beach. The idea is a hard “no” for OP.
A Tragic Incident Revisited
Four months ago, their older son’s friend tragically drowned at a beach outing. Their son was a witness to the event and even was the one to find his friend’s body after an hour of searching. He has been in therapy since the event, prompting OP’s determination to avoid the beach.
The First Attempt
The family tried to revisit the beach after the incident, but it ended poorly. Their older son had a panic attack, making it clear he wasn’t ready to return. He kept envisioning ways that people around him could die.
The Son’s Obsession
The son remains vigilant in protecting himself and his loved ones from tragic accidents, which are plentiful near the ocean. He reads a story about a woman impaled by a beach umbrella and another where a person picked up a deadly parasite from the ocean. These articles serve as a warning to him to stay away from the coast.
A Mother’s Perspective
OP’s wife thinks that a beach vacation could be therapeutic for their son, helping him confront his fears through exposure therapy. However, OP sees it as an unnecessary risk to his mental health.
The Son’s Protest
When the wife brings up the idea of a beach vacation, their older son is visibly upset and starts to shake. He declares that he will not go on such a trip, fearing for his life. He doesn’t understand why his own mother wouldn’t want to support and protect him.
A Father’s Ultimatum
OP tells his wife that if she insists on the beach, neither he nor their older son will go on the vacation. She can go with their youngest son, but it will not be a family trip. OP adds that if his wife insists on going to the beach, she will have to fund the vacation herself.
The Point of Family
The wife is angry, arguing that the point of the vacation is for the whole family to be together. She is frustrated by OP’s unilateral decision.
Concerns for the Youngest
The wife also thinks it’s unfair to their youngest child to cancel the traditional family time. She believes OP isn’t considering all viewpoints. Neither OP nor his wife is willing to budge on their stance regarding the vacation destination.
The Break from Tradition
OP usually values compromise and mutual decision-making in parenting. However, he feels compelled to break from this tradition, given the gravity of the situation. The disagreement leaves unspoken impacts on the family dynamic.
Amidst the family tension, therapy continues for their older son. Yet the question of how best to support him remains open. As the stand-off continues, the entire concept of a family vacation is thrown into jeopardy.
The Uncertain Future
The disagreement remains unresolved, and the summer vacation hangs in the balance. While OP and his wife are at odds, the underlying issue—the mental health of their older son—still looms large.
Was The Father’s Behavior Appropriate?
OP posts his story online for feedback and advice from the internet community. The readers in the forum had a lot of mixed views on the matter.
One reader said, “You don’t want to bring your son to a place that reminds him of where his friend died less than a year ago… That is incredibly reasonable.”
Another Commenter Thinks
Another responder wrote, “What kind of person does that to their child? Her point of view doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is what’s in the best interest of your traumatized child.”
A Third View on The Story
A different person stated, “Your wife was way out of line, and it’s a little concerning that she thinks four months is too long to get over an extremely traumatizing event. Can you talk to your son’s therapist about it? Maybe hearing from a professional that your wife’s exposure therapy idea is awful would help her back off.”
A Final Perspective on the Matter
Another reader commented, “Your son witnessed his friend die four MONTHS ago, not even years. It’s completely reasonable for you not to want to force him to be uncomfortable for an entire week just because your wife wants a beach vacation.”
What Do You Think?
What are your thoughts on their actions?
What would you have done in this situation?
This story is inspired by a thread from an online forum.