Family Tension on Trips

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington


Whenever my family takes a trip together, we always seem to argue. How can I help stop that?


Pray for the trip. Pray for your family. Pray for yourself. Prayer is not just wishful thinking or thinking positively. And it's more than just asking God to make your trip harmonious. Ask, yes. But don't just ask in vain. Expect good results, and actively listen for God's direction. Some of the best prayers affirm what's true and right about God's creation, which includes you, your family, and your vacation.

You can make the choice to have an argue-free trip. Others may argue, but you don't have to join in or be a reason for an argument. Rather, you can be the peacemaker and find happiness. We all know the Beatitude: "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matt 5:9). There are a few translations that are fun:

  • Happy are those who make peace…. (Phillips)
  • You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. (The Message)
  • God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. (NLT)

Family vacations are opportunities to "work for peace," to help your family "cooperate instead of fight," and to feel blessed and happy. There's a lot of preparation that goes into vacations. Sometimes it can get stressful for you, your siblings, and especially your parents. Your parents want you to enjoy the trip.

So what can you do to "show" your family members peace – to set an example of what harmony looks like?

  • You can help – plan, pack, get the food, take care of a younger sibling, be on time and be prepared.
  • If you're not excited about going, you can find a good reason to go, focus on what you might learn or see that's new or different.
  • If you're missing a really fun get together with your friends because of a family trip, think of ways to value your family more.
  • You can have a peaceful and fun attitude. You can stay upbeat and calm when there's stress.
  • You can refuse to react to an insulting remark that's made to you or to a rule that your parents set that you think is unfair.

There are lots of other ways to be peacemakers. As you listen to God for direction, you'll be able to figure them out. God gives us the ability and the opportunities (such as family vacations) to work for peace. Making peace is not always easy. That's the "work" part. But being a peacemaker is rewarding. Your example can help diffuse an argument, make others feel better, and bring harmony to your trip. And, if for some reason there are still arguments, at least you have decided to "seek peace and pursue it" (Ps 34:14). As a result, you don't have to be affected by the arguing because you are at peace yourself.