Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Travels: Traveling with People Who Aren't You

As you probably know, our family likes to travel. And, like herds of migrating wildebeests, we almost always travel in groups. Either we go to visit family, or we go somewhere with family, or we go somewhere with friends. Like the beach.

In fact, we just got back, today even, from the perfect trip with friends. More on that later.

Now, raise your hand if, when you're among friends or family, but more likely family, everything comes together like a finely tuned orchestra. In perfect harmony, you plan and execute the trip to the destination of every single person's dreams, filled with well-chosen activities to which everyone equally subscribes. You enjoy every second of one another's company, talking openly about your feelings and actively listening to and reflecting everyone else's. Of course, there are no negative feelings to reflect, because everyone is SUPREMELY HAPPY ALL THE TIME.

Yeah. I thought so.

May I share with you something I have learned about traveling with people who are not ... well, ME? This isn't at all about where to go. It's about how to go. Mentally, that is.

A year ago I was in a parent group where we learned about the four basic human needs: Power, Love/Belonging, Freedom and Fun.

Around that time, we took a vacation with some relatives who are related by blood to either the Professor or me. Not saying which. Neener neener neener. And the lightbulb finally clicked on for me. Here's what I realized.

When we go on a vacation with relatives, both the Professor and I place a high priority on Love and Belonging. We want to spend lots of time, you know, bonding. We suggest activities, like social board games, that bring people together. If we're going from our hotel room to, say, the swimming pool, we're likely to call up and say, "Hey, we're going down! Want to come?" At holiday's end, we're likely reinforce the warm fuzzies with hugs and assurances of a time well spent.

That is our way. But it is not the only way, nor is it necessarily the RIGHT way.

Other people may look at a pending family vacation and think, "Aha! This is my time to RELAX. To just chill. To have no responsibilities. To let my kids get a juice box or a hug from a *different* caring adult. To get away from the annoying people I work with and all the daily household chores. All I want to do is VEG." They'll go the pool (or golf course, or beach, or whatever applies) when they're good and ready. In other words, they have a high Freedom need. And that's fine. 

Can you see how these two needs might bump up against each other? Love and Belonging person might perceive Freedom person as less caring or affectionate, less invested in the relationship. Freedom person might perceive Love/Belonging person as too clingy, or even controlling. Or, you could have a Fun-hungry traveler rarin' to go, go, go -- whitewater rafting! horseback riding! shopping! -- who wonders why his exhausted cohorts are such sticks-in-the-mud.

Stranger things have happened.

This is probably more of a concern when traveling with family than with friends, since we often gravitate toward friends who "speak our love language," but it still applies in any group setting.

This was a huge revelation for me. Revelation Number Two: Both -- in fact, all four -- needs are OK. Just because someone doesn't say "I love you" the same way you do, doesn't mean they don't care. You can make room for both needs to be met ("We're going to Activity X at two o'clock, and you're welcome to join us!" Mental follow-up: "But if you want to chill in front of the TV, I won't take it personally.").

I'm pretty sure everyone has more fun that way ... but let me get back to you when I'm really an expert.


lnatt said...

Ah, so you are a Restitution Parenting grad?

Hannah said...

@lnatt: Yup! I think the Four Needs paradigm shift was possibly the most helpful thing I got from the class.

Bear Creek Mama said...

Well said! Looks like you had a great time with Laurie and fam - next time tuck me (just me - my family will need to stay at home lest the dynamic be really spoiled) into your bag.

Margo said...

Very helpful Hannah! I am making a mental note to look this up. We will be doing two family trips this summer, and I have a feeling I'll be needing the reminder. :)

Welcome home!

Bethy Lynne said...

We are so much alike it's ridiculous! I've observed this too...as well as it's not about the place you go as much as the attitude you carry. Ex: family from out of town wants to trek Sea World in the pouring down rain (that part wasn't planned) for about 60 bucks per person when I have a 2 month old baby and toddler getting over a cold...Ok, so we have a LOT of memories from that day...or Ex. #2 large extended family with many children drives 2 hours to Banff and pays expensive park fee per vehicle to...eat at McDonalds in Banff and drive home...no time to hike with so many decision makers and little ones...HA! So differently than how some of us were raised...but I've learned to shut my mouth and go with the flow. What else can you do? "Please pass the rose-tinted glasses?"

Jenny said...

I'm a freedom-loving vegetable on vacations, while the hubby is a fun-loving, up at 6 AM so we don't miss anything whirlwind of activity. Sometimes it's not just extended families that can clash on vacation ideals. ;) We still struggle to find the perfect balance for our family, but we're definitely getting better at it!

JoAnn said...

As usual, well said. I think having this kind of perspective makes it so much easier to be the accepting, loving person we all hope to be. I think that it's the way the Lord sees us, too.

Julie said...

Love it:)