Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have been full-timers for about three years. It is a great lifestyle with few problems until my husband's parents show up. They are elderly but still traveling occasionally with their pickup camper. They will often hook up with us and spend a few weeks. I try to be patient and kind, but they are opinionated, selfish and often rude. It changes our whole travel experience. They complain if they have to stay anywhere that costs more than five dollars per night, won’t dump unless it’s free. They would be happy to spend every night in a Walmart parking lot. They also want the cheapest gas and prefer to travel about a hundred miles per day with a long nap about half way. They are always complaining it is too cold, their battery power is too low or there is no flush toilet in the five dollar campgrounds we find. Their favorite pastime is sitting around critiquing other campers who are too loud, too fat, don’t know how to raise their children, don’t know how to drive, or are rich because they have a nicer rig than their own.
Am I being selfish? I want to ditch them the day after they show up. --Two too close for comfort in Corvallis
Dear Two Too:
Just because you bought an RV and hit the open road doesn’t mean you have solved all your family relationship problems. As you have found out, “You can run, but you cannot hide.” There are several ways to look at your particular problem. You have to consider that they are your husband's parents. All of us have to deal with in-laws. They may need some extra care at their age. It is wonderful that they can still travel rather independently. They are probably on a small fixed income and need to be extra thrifty when looking for services. I am not making excuses for their behavior, I am just suggesting you give them a lot of behavioral leeway. You may want to pick the one thing that annoys you the most and try discussing it with them. If that improves their behavior you can slowly move on to other issues. If they are embarrassing you it might be your baggage. Most people will see your situation and be understanding of remarks made by your in-laws. These situations can be very frustrating, but you are only making yourself miserable. Take a deep breath, bite your tongue, check your manners, and keep looking for those free dump stations, five dollar campgrounds and cheap gas.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink