Diane and I received a question from a reader last week regarding vacationing WITHOUT his kids or stepkids. His wife wanted to keep it from his children until the last minute because she didn’t want them to be upset. However, he didn’t/doesn’t understand why his wife’s stepkids feel as if they are entitled to go. His stepkids expressed that it was unfair that they weren’t included in the vacationing plans.
In my opinon, although I think it’s completely normal for kids to be disappointed that mom and dad are going on vacation without them, I don’t feel the need to beat around the bush, or figure out a way to tell them (as if to ask their permission), that the adults/parents are going on vacation without them. This holds true if the children are older – which his are. In my opinion, it just feeds into that sense of entitlement.
As I told the reader, vacationing WITHOUT the kids, from time to time, is a great way to get some extended time just focusing on you as a couple, instead of you as parents/co-parents/step parents. Couples NEED that in order to nurture their marriage and be better partners and parents.
Below is the reader’s story. What do you think? How often do you vacation without your kids/stepkids?
Hi Kela and Diane…
Wanted to pose a question for the advisory board if I may…
My wife and I are going on a vacation in a couple of weeks. Hawaii specifically. My wife didn’t want to tell her kids (pre-teens) until just before we were flying out. I didn’t quite understand this because my ex and I had travelled a number of times when my kids were younger and there was no problem with them knowing.
A few days before the planned disclosure date to her kids, I accidentally let the cat out of the bag at the dinner table. My wife was shocked and a little disappointed but she took the opportunity to explain the context of the trip.
Kids reacted fine at first, but then became mopey and expressed that they thought it was unfair that we go without them. I had not seen that there was any precedent set that they come on all trips with us. However, this is the first major trip my wife and I have taken together where we are gone for more than a few days to such an appealing place.
They came up with some of the most amazing rationalizations as to why this wasn’t fair and that they deserved to go. None of which made sense to me or my wife. We had launched a new business this past year and agreed that we would not take any holidays other than long weekends due to the commitment it required. Glad to say the first year has been a success so this is somewhat a reward for much hard work. It is also a sort of deferred honeymoon for us.
I just don’t see where the “we deserve to go with you”, thing comes from. I don’t recall feeling that way as a kid, nor did I experience that with my own kids when I was in my first marriage. I’ve spoken to a few friends, and the responses are mixed, but the majority see no problem with parents vacationing on their own and few have experienced much resistance. None on the level we just went through.
In the end, one of my step kids admitted he was envious. The other still contends it is just not fair. We are going all the same. I am paying for it. Fabulous arrangements have been made for kids to stay with a wonderful friend in a wonderful setting.
So, I know there aren’t many do’s or dont’s on an issue like this. Wondering if you can provide any thoughts or experiences. I was just left quite puzzled and perhaps feel a little guilty and bothered that my wife and I can’t take a well-earned vacation after a very hard-working year without such resistance and commotion.