Road Trip
By: Christy Aloisio
July 14, 2010


In the midst of packing for my upcoming family vacation, it inspired me to blog about the good, the bad, and the ugly of family trips. I think most of us have some pretty great memories young and old of family vacations, but I am sure this is also a lot of memories of fighting, bickering, and just plain drama. I have a lot of experience on family trips from my own, my in-laws, and even going on family trips with friends (apparently I am a glutton for punishment) and have experienced good times and disasters. So as the summer continues and more and more of us are packing for the yearly family trip, how can we make our family vacations a more pleasant experience?

It may seem to us that each year on our family trip that we fall into the same traps, are upset about the same things, and have big blow ups that are almost word for word from the year before. Why is this? It is because we all have established roles in our families. They are assigned to us as children and we carry them with us even into adulthood, unless we get healthy enough to remove ourselves from these roles. We continue to play out our roles even on trips and we get stuck in a place that can make us unhappy.

One major role codependents typically play in families is the peacemaker. Before I even give an explanation, I bet many of you are like, “yep, that’s me.” Peacemakers rarely if ever start the drama or argument, but somehow always wind up right in the thick of it. Peacemakers jump in when other family members are fighting or disagree about an issue. Why? Because you have been trained to do this and generally you find conflict very uncomfortable. When there is conflict around you, your natural instinct is to jump in and make it stop, because then you will feel at peace again. If you look back at your childhood, you have been trying to resolve conflicts between other family members since you can remember. It is almost expected of you.

Another role in families that can ruin vacation is the “I’ll take care of it” role. Ah, you know who you are. You are the one that not only makes dinner, but you are also the one doing the dishes. You get the kids rwork-overload-personeady, take them swimming, and also put them to bed. You watch all the kids so the “adults” can go have fun. It sounds like such strong word, but pushover is the word that comes to my mind. This can make vacation not so much fun for you. You do as much if not more work on vacation as you do at home. Does not sound all that relaxing, does it? So when you get home, all you can do is play the victim and be upset that you did everything to make the vacation work, but guess what, you were simply filling your role.

So obviously we cannot just snap our fingers and make our role in the family simply disappear. That would make life much easier! But guess what, you can work on yourself, become healthier, and decide you are no longer going to be the pushover or the peacemaker on your trip. The family may still bicker and argue, but you do not need to be sucked into the drama and you can enjoy your trip none the less.

So for the peacemaker, I know conflict is uncomfortable for you but do not get sucked in! If it is not your drama, then stay out of it. It will feel weird and different, but it can also feel very freeing. You can sit back and enjoy your trip and if others want to argue, let them. It is not, I repeat NOT your responsibility to make others happy and to like one another. You job is to make sure you have fun on your vacation. Don’t be surprised if your family members try to drag you in when you refuse to engage, but that is simply because they are so used to you joining in. Eventually you will get used to disconnecting from the drama and you will not be seen as the peacemaker any longer.

As for the pushover, STOP being a pushover! Sometimes we feel we are most capable of watching the children or cooking dinner it is easier to just step in and do it. Guess what, others can babysit and make dinner. The kids may not complete a world class art and craft project while in their care or you may not get a 5 course meal, but it will get done. Codependent traits tend to make us seek to control areas in our lives that we can since we lack so much control elsewhere, but this only makes for a lot of extra work. This is your vacation to! Do your part, but also take your time to relax and make the vacation enjoyable. Just as with the peacemaker, your family may not have the best reaction at first, and be hesitant to jump in because they are so used to you doing it. But guess what, the dishes can sit in the sink, and it will be ok!

So as I continue to have so much fun packing, I am already thinking about sitting in the sun and relaxing! I know I will enjoy my vacation and if the drama starts kicking in to high gear, out comes the iPod and shades! It’s not my drama and I am coming back from this trip rested and relaxed!