Vacationing with Kidults, Part 2Susan left a comment about my post on Vacationing with Kidults. I wanted to address her comment in a more public way to encourage all of you who still have kids at home. She said:
That sounds so great. At this point I can't imagine (I have teens) my kids WANTING to vacation with us - they are so chomping at the bit to get out and have their independence. It sounds so great.
Yes, Susan we are indeed blessed. We worked hard at developing a good relationship with our son as he was growing up. And travel had a big place in our lives. Those are both keys in what we’re trying to develop now that he’s married.
When he was young, we traveled to some wonderful places around the US and elsewhere almost every year. He could find his way around an airport at five or six. Vacations gave us uninterrupted time together and great adventures. We chose destinations that we thought he’d enjoy—at least most of the time. As we went through his teen years, I don’t think it occurred to any of us that enjoying being together was odd. Of course, we home schooled, so togetherness and mutual respect were part of our family culture.
Now our travel together has an added advantage for him and his wife. We pay. I hope that isn’t the only reason they come with us, but it works. We learned this from some family friends. They have what they call the Grammy trip. Each year, Grammy takes the whole family of one of her children to some exotic place. So every third year, our friends enjoyed a wonderful vacation with Grammy. And Grammy had the undivided attention of her children and grandchildren. In this family, the trip was more than a freebie. It was an opportunity to make memories. I always envied them and decided that we would become “Grammy” just as soon as our son left home.
They spent nine days with us at Christmas (I wrote about this here and here), but this was our first trip together. A bit more expensive than traveling with him alone since we rented two hotel rooms, but we wanted it to be a special time for them. (And what newlyweds want to share a room with Mom and Dad?) It gave them opportunities to be alone and times we could be together. We did a bit of sightseeing, going to the Reagan Library—one of his favorites. She had never been there, so it was a treat for her. We had several other activities planned, but what they wanted was mostly time to veg. We were able to be flexible and still enjoy them, which was the most important thing to us.
I hope they enjoyed it. We sure did. Now we’re all back at work, but remembering a brief interlude of togetherness. Again I was impressed with our dear DIL, who is learning how we travel. Son, of course, fell right into the pattern, but we’re different from her family and that has to be a bit stressful.
Susan, I hope you’ll find a way to build special memories with your teens. Yes, they want independence, but that isn’t mutually exclusive from time with family. Make trips as unique as you can afford. Cater to their interests, even if those aren’t yours. Find areas of common ground. Perhaps begin by vacationing with another family. We did that during the teen years, partially to provide companions for our only child, and it was great fun. The relationship you build during these years will pave the way for closeness when they are on their own. Best wishes!