1. I've been living in the U.S. for 10 years but my family is in another country.
  2. I haven't visited them in a couple of years and I'm planning a visit next spring.
  3. I usually only go there for a week due to my work schedule.

This year my family is pressuring me to come for 2 weeks.

I explained to them that most people at my job don't take off for 2 weeks at a time and there is no one to cover for me but they urge me to plead with my boss for extended vacation.

The truth is that also when I go there for a week, I usually miss my privacy and my home over here and I'm very ready to return so 2 weeks seems like will not be as enjoyable to me.

I don't know how to tell them that without hurting their feelings because they miss me and want to spend more time with me.

How do I politely turn them down and only go for one week?

  • Did you ask your boss and he said yes, or don't you even want to ask them at all? Nov 27, 2017 at 15:55
  • 19
    @OldPadawan Well, if Boss said No, case would be closed, wouldn't it? Nov 27, 2017 at 16:02
  • 1
    Are you looking for ways to convey your unwillingness without repeating your workplace situation - this "I explained to them that most people at my job don't take off for 2 weeks at a time and there is no one to cover for me but they urge me to plead with my boss for extended vacation." sounds as if you covered all those arguments already, except for actually asking your boss - what you want to avoid? So you want to tell them rather this "The truth is that also when I go there for a week, I usually miss my privacy and my home over here and I'm very ready to return" in essence? Nov 27, 2017 at 16:29
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    Have a conversation with your boss where you boss does not get a word in - "I usually visit my family for one week, they want me to visit for two, but I told them the job needs me here after one week. That's correct, right? Okay, thought so, thanks." and walk out. Then you can honestly tell your family you had a conversation about it with your boss, and that you'll be visiting for one week. :D Nov 27, 2017 at 19:30
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    @PoloHoleSet that should really be an answer, not a comment. Asking your boss a leading question like that will likely produce the desired answer, so you can then truthfully tell your family that your boss said they need you there after a week.
    – Doktor J
    Nov 28, 2017 at 14:30

6 Answers 6


I would take the "easy way out" here and tell them you are unable to take that much time off of your job. You don't have to tell them that you didn't actually ask your boss about it - just explain as you have here that there's nobody to cover your position, and week long vacations are the most anybody takes.

This avoids hurting their feelings by saying you don't really want to spend two weeks with them, and instead they can redirect their disappointment onto your boss (aka somebody they can't argue with). You say your visits are usually a week long, so it's not like a sudden change.

I think that directly telling your family will inevitably lead to hurt feelings. There's really no nice way to say "I don't like spending long amounts of time with you". Unless you can propose a solution, I wouldn't bring it up. For example, perhaps you could stay at a hotel, or if they promise to respect your privacy when you close your door, you'd be willing to stay longer. Otherwise - and if nothing can change your mind about staying longer - there is no point in telling them the reason.

Regardless, make sure that they do know you still care about seeing them and look forward to your time with them. This will lessen the sting and keep everyone on positive terms.

Personal experience: I recently switched jobs and have very little vacation time accrued so far; I have personal reasons for avoiding being at home too much this holiday season. Technically there are ways I could get around the lack of vacation time (advances, overtime, etc.) but I have just told my family sorry, only x hours vacation so I have limited days I can visit. So far no hurt feelings since it's framed as "not that I don't want to see you, but I can't" - which is partially true in both statements as I do want to see them, just... not for long amounts of time at the moment.

  • 8
    +1 for this. As an introvert, I not only like, but need my alone time to recharge. Staying with other people, even my parents for long periods of time is never a good thing, because then I start getting ornery, and nobody wants me to be like that. No is a complete sentence in this case, and regardless of how they pressure you, they aren't you and don't know either your circumstance or your feelings.
    – Anoplexian
    Nov 27, 2017 at 18:46
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    Additionally, if finances allow for the travel/etc, perhaps you can suggest another visit soon after (i.e. visit for one week, then make arrangements to visit again the following year instead of waiting a couple of years)? Most full-time jobs (in the US at least) accrue 2-4 weeks of vacation a year; allowing for your own personal vacations (significant other, kids, downtime, etc) it shouldn't be too difficult to spare 1 week a year, and keeps your job's needs as an excuse.
    – Doktor J
    Nov 28, 2017 at 14:31
  • My parents actually offered to cover my cost if I had to take unpaid days as an addition so I can't use finance as excuse. They also wanted me there around those dates to celebrate my mom's birthday. I got a lot of great advice here and things to think about
    – sillygilz
    Nov 28, 2017 at 19:46

Visiting your family for a week is a kindness (as long as it's not a burden.)

If you don't want to stay for more than one week, that's totally your decision. You don't really need to give them any explanation; you can simply state (and repeat) that you're sorry it doesn't seem long enough, but you can't stay for two weeks.

If you want to give them a reason, tell them you have a job you love/need which being absent from for that long would pose a hardship to your coworkers/employer. I don't usually advocate lying, but as you want to spare your parents' feelings, I think this is the best way to do that.

My parents are both deceased now (there's something to think about!), but when I would visit them, I would feel claustrophobic after a few days. I realized I was staying longer than my comfort zone allowed out of guilt. So I shortened my stays.

I would recommend this if you're feeling you'd like your own place before the week is up:

  • Plan a couple of afternoons or a day away alone. You know what sights are nearby or a day trip away. This helps not only in giving you room to be alone with your thoughts, but you might find you actually prefer to do things with your family.

  • Invite them to come visit you. If they want to see you more often, this should be a viable option. If they say it costs too much, you can remind them that it costs you a lot, too, and you can offer to help them with the financial aspect. It is also an honest way to appear to want to see them as much as they want to see you. (If there is some kind of physical hardship that makes traveling very difficult for them, take that into consideration.)

This became a boundary issue for me and my parents. My father would try to guilt me into visiting more often (I would go twice a year during my residency, when time was more valuable than anything but sleep.) I just started to automatically say "I can't, but you're welcome to come down whenever you'd like." It was honest and it felt better than constantly explaining why it was so hard to get away during residency.


You may want to make it so that it's not all only on your boss responsibility:

See mom, as I told you the problem is that we never take more than one week, but it's not simply a matter of "asking my boss": even if he said "ok", no one would be there to cover for me, work would stack up and when I got back I would end up dealing with a crushing backlog. All the relax and fun I had by visiting you two weeks would backfire on me very very seriously, so please, try to understand that I do love you but that would make my life hard.


It sounds like you're torn between sparing their feelings and telling the truth. You'll have to decide for yourself if being honest with them is worth it in this case (for what it's worth, if I was in this situation I'd lie).

Now, if you do decide to lie, I'd recommend just choosing the simplest one: tell them you pleaded with your boss and they said no (don't actually go to your boss about this, no need to bring your personal family matters into work here). Then just take your one-week vacation like usual.

What you shouldn't do is halfheartedly ask your boss for the extra week or something just so you can tell your family you asked while technically not lying; you're still being dishonest even if you'd be technically telling the truth. You also make things harder for yourself by involving your boss, plus there's the off chance they approve.

Oh and if you do decide to be honest, emphasize that it's because you're not up to the task of living away from home for two weeks, make sure they understand it's not their fault.


As bad as this sounds, the best way to handle this is to tell the truth. Say, I really love you-all and I do miss you but I will lose my job if I take two weeks off, maybe, in a couple years, once I've earned the time off or there is someone to cover for me I can visit. Say, I really worked hard to get to where Im at at my job;

Here, it is very, very hard to get a job like mine and if I become replaceable they are liable to fire me if anything comes up; If I remain indespensibe they will need me and will not easily find someone who can replace me.

Also, (this is true), once someone else does "cover" for you, once you let your guard down, the company may very well see your absence as dis-loyalty and you may be fired and replaced by someone more dedicated...Tell them you miss them terrribly, you wish you could come but that it is they're fault because they raised someone so dedicated and ambitious as you; and in all seriousness if you take this two weeks off now, more than likely, in the spring, when you can get outside you very may well be not able to come and thats really when you want to.......they will be sad, but, they will respect you and understand.


You don't really have to bring your job into this, at least not like that. I've worked abroad my self for an extended period (4½ years in Ireland, I am from Denmark). I usually visited a couple of times per year. And usually, only for about 2 weeks.

Like you, I found that after a while, you start missing your privacy, which is okay. Your daily routine is entirely different. Especially because you won't be working during your normal hours while you're on vacation, and since moving from home, you've adapted to a different circumstance, where you're not physically close to family 24/7, or even 16/7.

I would recommend that you simply tell your family this. They are likely to understand that you've grown. They may feel saddened by the distance this creates, but I usually tried to make up for it by trying to be extra active when I was home, as well as having more regular phone conversations when I was back "home" in Ireland again.

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