Advice About a Family Vacation Dilemma! Please HELP

Updated on January 29, 2013
S.E. asks from Rio Rancho, NM
23 answers

My husband and I are planning a vacation to California.
Here are the family dynamics. I have 2 children a 19 yr old son and a 17 yr old daughter. My husband has a 20 yr old daughter and a 17 yr old daughter. Both of my step daughters have 2 yr old sons. (1 each).
We are planning this trip with the two 17 yr olds and the grandson of my 17 yr old step daughter. I told the other kids if they wanted to go they had to pay their own way since they are adults.

The 20 year old called her dad complaining that it was not fair that her son couldnt go with us. We are taking one grandson because he lives with us and so do the two 17 yr old girls. My son does too but he still has to pay his own way because he is now an adult. They are all welcomed to go if they can pay for themselves.

Am I wrong? I don't feel like we should be forced by guilt to take the other grandchild(2yrs old) on this trip. Help me please cause I don't want cause any rif raf!

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So What Happened?

Yes they are welcomed to join if they pay their own way but my older step daughter just wants us to take her son and I dont feel like we are obligated.

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answers from Washington DC on

My main problem here is that the 17-y.o. mother is essentially being rewarded for having a baby before she was legally an adult and is therefore not required by you to be financially responsible either for herself or her child. From that perspective, I can understand why the 20-y.o. would feel a little resentful.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

If you look at it from her perspective she might be seeing it as favoritism and not that you're just taking someone who's underage with you.

What would it really cost to take this little guy? I would imagine not that much.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boise on

I see so much wrong with this post and am slightly surprised by the some of the other responses.

A. I would never tell my older children that they could come if they could pay their way. Let's be realistic, they may be legal adults, but they are just starting out in the world. Money is going to be an issue, so in essence it isn't a 'family' vacation. You and hubby are going on vacation and taking 2 of the children and 1 grandchild.

B. So now you are taking one grandchild, a 2 year old of a 17 year old and leaving the other child of the 20 year old home...because the 17 year olds lives with you? Well would that grandchild be living with you if it wasn't for the fact the mother is a minor? Sorry, the fact that one lives with you shouldn't discount the other child. It's not the other childs fault that momma has grown up and lives on her own.

C. Of course the 20 year old thinks it's fair that her child get's to go. Again she is just starting out in life and probably doesn't have the money to go herself but would like to see her child equally treated by it's grandparents. I don't think that is to much to ask.

What I see happening is resentment. All should be treated equally, that's not how you are seeing it. Just cause your bond is stronger with one does not mean the other get's left out. Sorry I would never do that to my kids or any future grand kids.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Two is too young to go to Disney. Approach it from that angle. If the mother wants to go and pay their way then it's OK but you're not accepting responsibility for a 2 yo. One toddler is quite enough. In reality a 2 yo will slow everyone down, will get tired and cranky and will only have fun for the first hour or so. The 2 yo going will have his mother to take care of him. You'll be standing in lines. There will be crowds. His routine will be changed. It will be really difficult for everyone to have 2-2yo babies and not even beneficial for the extra 2 yo. The child you're taking will have his mother to take care of him. Why does this other mother think you should take care of her son on a trip that he won't remember or even enjoy when you're already committed to helping with another 2yo who lives with you?

You are most definitely right! Be kind but stand firm and don't let guilt make your decision for you. So, she'll be upset. She'll get over it or not. If she doesn't it's not your fault. She has to accept her own actions and feelings. This could be a much needed lesson for her.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Here's another way to look at this - one of your grandchildren lives with you, and therefore likely gets a lot more from you in general: more of your time, your resources, etc. Now you are planning a trip, and you are going to pay for the grandchild that already gets more of your resources, and leaving out the one that is already gets less from you. I know life isn't always fair, but it seems a bit harsh for grandparents to teach that lesson to their own grandchild at such a young age.

Yes, the mother might have her own vested interest in getting you to take him, but just looking at your plans and your grandchildren, what you are doing is not fair to them.

As for all the comments below about the 2 year old slowing you down, being too young, needing naps - all irrelevent in my opinion, because you are going with the other 2 year old anyway, and you are going to be building naps, etc, into your schedule anyway.

Also, in way, you are 'rewarding' the child who had a child at 15 by taking her and her child on vacation, while leaving out the child (and grandchild) who waited until she was an adult to have a child. Where is the sense in that? Is that consistent with your valules? Seems backwards to me.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Anchorage on

Your 20 year old stepdaughter wants you to take her 2 year old son to California while she stays home? And she wants you to pay for her son's trip? I would say no. You are not obligated to take him. How much of a vacation will it be for you if you are watching a 2 year old the entire time? You are paying for this trip, you deserve to enjoy it. The rules are the same for the other adult children. Your stepdaughter sounds a little spoiled to me. Go to California and enjoy your vacation!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

The way it sounds at this point, I would scrap the whole trip. Is this trip for more than 5 days, I would let them all the kids stay home and it would be me and hubby. Too much drama from the older one to put up with. As others have said she is an adult and life isn't fair.

I see where it wouldn't matter if you got a big/small gifit for the holidays she would be the one the would complain.

No, i would take a grandchild that I would have to watch if it was not in my plans for vacation. That is the purpose of a vacation to get away from everyday routines and to relax. Ah the beach! But you can't do that running after a child the keep them out of the ocean.

What's that saying, "I've raised my kids now you raise yours"?

the other S.

PS Life is too short

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

if you look at it from another perspective (because as someone said, the 2 year old that lives with you already gets extra of everything, BECAUSE they live with you)

if 17 is old enough to have a two year old, some would consider that "adult" as well.

it's not a fair situation.

BUT. the 20 year old is being whiny and acting like a child, insisting that her 2 year old be taken on a trip he/she won't remember a bit of.

so yeah, the whole situation is pretty screwed up. not sure there's really a way to straighten this one out. i say stick to your guns and lay in the bed you made. pray that they all leave the nest soon, at this point.

sounds like about 20 years of "rif raf" led to this nightmare.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I think you have your hands full already. She just wants you to take her child, correct? Why?
I'm sorry, but what is a one year old REALLY going to get out of a vacation trip to California? (other than family time, which you can have at home ANY time, right?).... Does she want a mini-vacation away from her child?

Sorry if it sounds judgmental, but I'd say you will be plenty busy chasing the other toddler around already. And I am assuming that YOU will be the ones chasing the toddler around only because I don't personally know any teenage parents who live at home with their parent(s) who actually take charge of their kids. In my experience, they seem to let the grandparents do all the work, and the grandparents DO since they know their own kid won't and they don't want the grandkid to suffer because of it. (Just what I have personally observed, but maybe your step-daughter is different).

And are you flying to your destination? All of that sounds like just SO much more fun with 2 one year olds rather than one of them to manage.... (cough cough).

Basically, to sum it up: She is married. If she wants her kid to have a California vacation, I guess she and her husband should save their money so they can take one. I have never understood "grown" kids who think their parents are obligated to do things for them like that. If you OFFER, that is different. To expect it and be offended or angry if you don't offer it, is childish.

ETA: Just re-read.... and it all still applies, even if the kids are 2 years old instead of 1 year olds.

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answers from Hartford on

This is a tough one because of the family dynamics. I would tell your 20 year old stepdaughter that her son is obviously welcome and you'll pay for him... but only if she comes too and pays her way. That way your grandson won't be left out, the whole "equality" thing between grandsons and the resources spent on them will be more equal, and the rule about the adults that don't live in the house paying for themselves is still in place.

If your 20-year old stepdaughter is unable to go due to finances and/or can't get the time off of work, would it really be a hardship to take your grandson without her? It could go a long way toward keeping the family peace.

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answers from Chicago on

You should pay for the grandchild but only if the mother comes and pays her own way.

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answers from Los Angeles on

You're not wrong. Stick to your guns, if she can pay to go she can take him herself, but as Marda pointed out, he will slow her down. You're not obligated to take him for her. Stay strong!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Does everyone live nearby one another? Do the two year olds see each other a lot and play together? If so, perhaps the the 20-year-old mom is concerned that her child will feel left out. I don't know that this could be a concern at two, though it would be one if the kids were four years old or older. It would be you having to explain to the child why he or she is not going. This is even more difficult to explain if you are going to Disney or the San Diego Zoo. What can you tell a five year old? Your mommy has to pay for you? All the five year old would know is that he or she is not going. But since the kids are two, and if they do not see each other often, maybe this is not as big of an issue.

On the other hand, if the second mom isn't going, then it will be you having to change diapers, ensure naps, referee between the two kids, lug a kid through an airport or find room in the van for two car seats, That's not a vacation for the person in charge of the child. (It's already sounding less and less like a vacation, anyway).

In one sense, the 20-year-old's child could be seen as being left out if the rule is, "All kids under 18 get a vacation paid by Grandma," for you did say adults have to pay their own way. Or this can be viewed as, "All adults have to pay for their own children, but teens with children do not." It is interesting because the "rule" can be viewed as true from both angles, thus one can understand the 20 year old's disappointment.

Since the wording would have worked best if you had said, "Adults have to pay their own way for themselves and their families," you have your dilemma.

Point out to the 20 year old that you neglected to have the right wording, and that you never had expected to be responsible to be the main caretaker of any grandchild on the trip, and that you cannot do so. Apologize for the messiness of the situation and her hurt feelings, and that you never intended to hurt anyone's feelings.

If possible, ask her if you pay for the grandchild, is she able to pay for herself and then be the main caretaker of that grandchild on the trip? I know, you will end up doing a lot of the caretaking, but maybe if you create shifts with you and your husband going off by yourselves, you can achieve some down time.

Perhaps money is a concern for you, and you cannot fund the way for the second grandchild. (I do hear of grandparents funding the entire expense for vacations for all family members, but that's not my family, either).

Perhaps you are trying to establish the "Adults have responsibilities" rule, and the parameters of the paying falls under that idea. Perhaps you are trying to get them to be fiscally responsible and to realize that they have to save their own money for big ticket items because this has been an issue in the past.

What were the reasons for the parameters you put into place? Financial? Then I assume you have to say no because you cannot afford it. Getting the kids to be more responsible? Then perhaps pay for the child if the mother comes and pays for herself, and say no if she does not plan to go. Worries of jealousy because of who goes for free? Well, you've already lost that one.

Life isn't fair, and anyone who has become an adult knows not to complain about that when someone goes on vacation but he or she has to stay at home. The twenty year old is either talking (from her soul) like a child who hasn't learned that lesson, or she is saying it because adult children can at times revert to acting like children. It hurts to hear her say it because you were trying to be fair. I hope some of this post gives you the wording to help explain to her the ways in which you thought that this was fair (though she may not ever see it your way). Explain that it is not fair to you if you have to take care of her kid on a vacation. (Or suggest to leave the other two year old with her so you all can enjoy your vacation-ha ha!)

If you can afford to do it, and if you and the others would enjoy the kid's company, and if you can find a way to establish shifts for caretaking, take the kid.

That's a lot of ifs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

i'm assuming that she DOESN'T want to come, but wants you to take her toddler and pay for him?
boy, she's ballsy.
toddlers are adorable but a lot of work. the other grandson will have his mother with him.
it's a Very Good Thing to expect young adults to pay their own way.
be kind but firm. sounds like the 20 year old is feeling a little entitled. nip that in the bud.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

IMO you should pay for both of your grandchildren to go. IMO it has nothing to do with guilt. It has to be with being fair.

Even if the 17yo mom is still a "child" in your eyes, she's responsible for her child and should be paying for her child to go.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You are planning a family vacation. Do you want for your whole family to come or do you want to create a family drama and a lot of resentment? Maybe just you and your husband should go. Are the 19 yr old and the 20 year old in a position to pay for the trip? Have you selected transportation, accommodations and entertainment that they will be able to afford? By taking some kids, but requiring others to pay, I think you are creating a family drama. I could see if some of your kids were much older, married, more financially secure and bringing their spouse/children, then they might be in a position to pay their expenses. i can see why the 20 year old is upset - you are providing a vacation for your other grandson and not for her son. please rethink this.

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answers from Grand Forks on

To be completely fair to the grandchildren I would offer to pay for the 2 year old grandchild to go, providing that the mother comes and pays her own way. I would not volunteer to babysit a two year old on vacation.



answers from Phoenix on

I agree with you 1/2 way yes cause they are over 18 they should pay for themselves but then again I belive if your 17yr old is old enough to have a baby she should be considered an adult & make her pay for herself. If anything I would just pay for your grandsons & make it about the time you got to spend with them.. Your 20 year old should understand were you are coming from but a 2 year old is not gonna understand why his 2 year old cousin got to go with grandma/grandpa and he didn't.. I don't think you should look at it as guilt rather then the Love you have for both your grandson..



answers from Miami on

You are in a sticky situation for sure. You said anyone under 18 was paid for. The second grandson is not 18 yet. I would either just pay for everyone or if you cannot afford it explain you cannot afford to pay for everyone but if she goes and pays her way you will pay for the kid. Explain you will not be looking after the grandson your daughter will be as it is your vacation and if you want your son to go because he is so little she will have to pay and go with you. Explain when they are both old enough to be together say 6 or 7 you would not mind taking both to disney or some other park.



answers from Seattle on

I may be a litt confused so best with me:

17 + Toddler

Those 3 live at home with you
Those 3 you're paying for

The older 2 are welcome to come, but must pay their own way.

Here's where (I THINK I'm getting confused)

The older 2....

1 single

Husband and toddler are not welcome?
Or they are if they pay their own way?



answers from Fort Myers on

The 20 year old wants her son to go without her? Or does she want to go as well, but can't afford it? If she wants to go with her son, but it's a matter of finances then, yes I can see why she feels left out. If she just wants you to take her son, that sounds like she wants a babysitter. I'm in my 40's and my inlaws have paid for our our hotel on a family trip and we just paid our airfare. If you truly want a family trip you should do something that everyone can afford or be willing to make up the difference. Otherwise there will be hurt feelings.



answers from Kansas City on

If I understand this correctly, the 20 year old mother is wanting you to take her 2 year old and the mother is not going on the trip?
She is wanting everyone to "babysit" her 2 year old. What 2 year old is going to remember a trip to California?
Unless the 20 year old mother is going (and paying her way) I wouldn't consider it a "vacation" to take her 2 year old, I see this as "Grandma does all the work". A 2 year old is a lot of responsibility, what about medical issues, do you have power of atty. to attend to this child in case of emergency?



answers from Tampa on

I would tell her that you would be thriled if her son came, and even willing to pay his way since you are paying for your other grandchild, however, she needs to also come along and pay her own way because you will not be available to babysitt during the vacation. If she wants to come along and take care of her child during the vacation, wonderful, then you and your husband can go ahead and pay for both grandkids. If she does not want to come along then tell her that you will not be taking her child since she is not going to be there to take care of her child. Easy, end of story. Good luck!

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