Can I MAKE my 14 year old dd go to summer camp if she doesn't want to?

(168 Posts)
Spidermama Tue 04-Jun-13 18:33:32

Here's the background.
DH is going away for seven and a half weeks in the summer holidays. shock
I work mon-fri, 5am until 12pm.
I have four children aged 8, 11, 13 and 14.

I'll need a break. So I've booked a holiday camp for the kids which looks really great. They'd all go to the same camp for one week.

The problem is that my 14 year old DD says she won't go. She's insisting. She points out, quite correctly, that I can't drag her out of the house.

She's very shy. Actually I know this would be great for her and I think it's just what she needs: A week doing kayaking, canoeing, zip wiring, crafts, archery, camping etc etc etc. It would be a great chance for her to leave the lip gloss and straighteners at home and just BE!

But she won't. And I've paid the deposit.

Having a week to myself is the only thing that's keeping me going and I won't cope without it.

What would you do?

DystopianReality Tue 04-Jun-13 19:23:38

Oh, I feel so much for both you and she...

I think, on balance, could she just stay at home and do her own thing, while you do yours? You might even find a common ground without the others where you have some fun.
She could, just be left alone in the evenings too, so maybe she won't be too intrusive?
I woule try to be kind and tolerant and have her at home.

Spidermama Tue 04-Jun-13 19:25:33

Really jessjessjess? I worry that she's so shy. It's preventing her from doing so many things. Did you get over your shyness? Or are you still afflicted? Is there anything I can do to help her with this?

Blu (nice to 'see' you btw) I don't think she's worried about being with younger children particularly because she'll be put in a group with people her own age. This particular place is renowned for its pastoral care. I booked it for her with that in mind. Had I known she'd refuse I might have saved myself £150 per child and booked a place which doesn't have locally sourced organic food and great pastoral care. My boys would have been perfectly happy with the basics.

SgtTJCalhoun Tue 04-Jun-13 19:29:30

Did you not check with her before you booked it?

Spidermama Tue 04-Jun-13 19:30:00

SgtTJ she doesn't need stuff doing for her but I can't tell you how much I crave my own company just now and again. It's so full on with the four of them and I need to have a period of refueling.

She's quite hard going sometimes. Surly and rude. Doesn't clear up after herself. Normal teenage behaviour, but I need a break from it otherwise I might go properly mad.

Spidermama Tue 04-Jun-13 19:31:24

SgtTJ No I didn't check with her. I did lots of research, found a place I thought looked great and booked it feeling pleased that at least with the money dh is earning whilst away all that time I could give something to the kids and to me.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Tue 04-Jun-13 19:31:59

God I think you're being very selfish. "I need a break" well so does she and at 14 this kind of thing will worry a shy girl massively! She's not 4! Let her be. She can manage alone for a few hours while you're at work.

DystopianReality Tue 04-Jun-13 19:32:43

I worry about the 'it didn't do me any harm'. It's a bit like smacking isn't it? Get firm and send 'erm out! It's charcater forming..... and all of that.
Sometimes, it isn't, it does just the opposite, it can kill confidence.
Keep her where she feels confident at a time when she needs to feel that more than ever and also needs you to recognise her needs too.

I realise you need a life too, god knows, it sounds like it. I really sympathise, there may be middle ground; have you thought it through thoroughly?

beachyhead Tue 04-Jun-13 19:36:33

It probably depends on the age bracket that she will be with. My dd1 and ds1 went to camp last year, but she was in a small group of teenagers (she was 15) doing way more adult stuff than my DS, who was 11....

Perhaps contact the centre and see how big the group is, how many boys v girls, the actual timetable for the teens and see if any of that looks appealing to her.

I would also approach her friends parents and see if their dd is interested - you never know till you ask...

What are all the kids doing for the remaining six weeks then?

Chubfuddler Tue 04-Jun-13 19:37:01

If its her crippling shyness that's the problem, I'll offer this perspective: my SIL is quite gung ho about effectively forcing her quite shy son to do things because she recognises that he is like she was, and that loads of opportunities passed her by. She was too shy to put herself forward for things and was never made to participate. So she did nothing: didn't join guides, didn't go on the French exchange, didn't do sleep overs. She regrets it now.

Plus when it comes down to it, 14 is a child and she goes if you say she goes.

queenofthepirates Tue 04-Jun-13 19:38:38

Christ on a bike, I don't think the OP is being in the least bit selfish. Parents need to see their own limits and not go over them otherwise they turn into harridans and no one wins.

Personally I have no clue how you cope with four kids, I can barely manage one.

My hat off to you for not having taken them all to Barnados

DystopianReality Tue 04-Jun-13 19:39:34

Forcing a 'shy person' into extrovert situations is not going to 'cure' her of her shyness.

Being listened to and having time allocated to just her is more likely to build her confidence.

jessjessjess Tue 04-Jun-13 19:40:00

"Really jessjessjess? I worry that she's so shy. It's preventing her from doing so many things. Did you get over your shyness? Or are you still afflicted? Is there anything I can do to help her with this?"

You're not going to like the answer. But - despite the fact she's a rude, difficult teenager - feeling unwanted by you isn't actually going to help. In my experience, a shy kid who goes to summer camp will just turn into a shy kid at summer camp.

She will get over her shyness, but I don't think getting her out of the way like this is going to help. I realise you want a break, but there must be a middle ground like Dystopian says.

DeafLeopard Tue 04-Jun-13 19:40:14

God no don't force her, it sounds absolutely awful for a shy 14 year old.

But she is old enough to

- entertain herself while you are at work
- do some chores to help you out
- do something productive with the week

HeathRobinson Tue 04-Jun-13 19:44:52

'I could give something to the kids...' Really?

Catbert4pm Tue 04-Jun-13 19:48:48

Tricky. When I worked FT I asked 13yo DD how she would feel about a week at PGL and I was v glad when she agreed. I cried when we dropped her off - I felt like I was putting her in a children's home for a week, but she loved it. She came home with a new
-found love of dub step (I think that's what it's called!) and smelling like a right old swamp duck!!

I think only you know whether to play hardball on this one; you know her best. I don't think you are being selfish for considering making it mandatory, but clearly persuasion would be the better option, if that is practical given her age wink

I think there are some good suggestions here; I particularly like the try it for three days or stay with family possibilities.

Good luck, I hope things work out well - keep us posted!

GraduallyGoingInsane Tue 04-Jun-13 19:49:28

Can you leave it and then bring it up on a couple of weeks? I have 4 DDs and their moods change by the hour. What they hate now might not be so bad in a couple of weeks.

I do sympathise though, I have a shy DD2 and although she will give things a go now I know sometimes its an enormous effort and she'd rather hide. Can you promise her something she'd like for another part of the holidays? She could stay in bed and read for a whole weekend afterwards, or something similar?

I do think though it helps to keep pushing the comfort zone - not in a 'it never did me any harm' sense, but life has so many opportunities - travel, university etc that are great, but scary. A few smaller 'scaries' that you force yourself to do and end up enjoying can pave the path for bigger scary things.

Dededum Tue 04-Jun-13 19:49:55

I think it's the friends thing - I am assuming this is a residential thing.

My boys 10&11 are going to do a week play scheme (for 10-16yr olds). But they both need a friend to do it.

Don't think being shy and having to cope is a bad thing. You can't stop her being shy but she needs to learn to get on with things. You do her no favours by shielding her from the world. I was / am a mix of shy and bolshie, learnt to deal with it and in my 20's travelled across Africa.

SpecialAgentTattooedQueen Tue 04-Jun-13 19:51:42

God I think you're being very selfish. "I need a break" well so does she and at 14 this kind of thing will worry a shy girl massively! She's not 4! Let her be. She can manage alone for a few hours while you're at work.

^^ This.

I can't believe you booked a summer camp knowing she is so shy and sprung it on her. shock

DystopianReality Tue 04-Jun-13 19:52:39

Just a thought...

Don't look back on a decision to send her 'anyway', and in a few years regret that decision. Don't think, a few years time, 'I wish I hadn't forced her', in view of what might or might not happen.

Be proud that you listened and actedin HER best interests, as she will mature and you will inevitably think about the decsions you took and whether they had an impact on her.

When they are tiny we feed them all the besr stuff and 'entertain and 'calm and their needs are our needs too. Make that an edict for their adolescence too, maybe.

BTW I drink too much and am frequently horrible and irritable with both DH and DCs

pollycazalet Tue 04-Jun-13 19:55:43

World of difference between a play scheme and a weeks residential. Of course she's still a child at 14 but you need to listen to why she doesn't want to go and model negotiation and compromise. There seem to be other options. I don't think you are being selfish either but your dd is telling you something important about your assumptions about what's best for her and what she will enjoy.

motherinferior Tue 04-Jun-13 19:55:45

The very idea of four kids for seven and a half weeks is making me feel faint so although in theory I sympathise with her, in practice I am wondering about a really big bribe...

Spidermama Tue 04-Jun-13 19:56:28

jessjessjess I am with her all the time. I am often home alone with her and we do stuff together. I don't think she's starved of my company. On the contrary she often actively shuts me out, which is normal and healthy for a 14 year old.

Beachyhead I think it's a good idea to contact the center and get their take on it. I'll leave the subject for a week or so, then make another attempt next time we're getting on well. If she still refuses I'll reluctantly cancel her place. She'll have to go to her Grandmother's in Dorset for the week though because I really need that week.

3monkeys Tue 04-Jun-13 19:59:42

Could she go to a different week's activity? As a teenager I would have bee terrified by that camp! But my kids would love it. Is there something local she could do?

willowisp Tue 04-Jun-13 20:06:07

What about getting an aupair in instead & sending all the kids to a local day camp ?

I sympathise with you both...assume no grandparents around to help ?

Startail Tue 04-Jun-13 20:16:04

I'm afraid I am a heartless parent, it's paid for, your going, end of discussion.

DD1(15) would love it, except for the other teens, who she'd ignore.

DD2(12) would also be fine as she's used to doing a day camp with people she doesn't know and always makes friends.

DD2 has been practicing teen awkwardness since she was 6, hence the it's paid for your going line. No way does DD2 get to call the shots, now or until she's 18 (because actually, she wouldn't want to).

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