This week I am visiting my youngest son in beautiful Naples, Florida. He recently moved to start a new job, after being in California for a bit. It truly is a joy to spend time with my adult children.
I read once that having a child is like having your heart walking around outside of your body. That is so true! It can be challenging to watch them grow up, and go through all they need to learn to become successful adults, but it is also a struggle to let go when they are ready to be on their own. You just have to trust you did your best, things will work out, and grace will cover you both in the tricky times.
I love spending time with my sons, and am often reminded “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him” Psalm 127:3. Now that they are both grown, we don’t see each other all that often – even when we are in the same area. We all have our own lives, and even when we do get together for a meal, or an afternoon, we don’t really get to catch up fully.
If you have grown children, you may be feeling some of the same things. So, what’s the solution? Consider taking a family vacation together. Whether they are single, married, or married with children, a family vacation is a great way to reconnect and deepen your relationship with your children. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to connect with the other important people in their life.
Taking a vacation can have its own set of challenges, however. It’s not always the most peaceful endeavor. When done correctly, though, a family vacation can really deepen the peace and satisfaction in your life. Here are a few questions to ask yourself, along with some ideas on how to spend that time together, while still honoring their life choices and schedules.
First and foremost, take the lives and schedules of your children into consideration. Is there a time of year for them that is less busy? Do they have children that are in school, or jobs that have a busy season? Try to be as flexible as possible.
Do you have more than one adult child? If so, are you looking to take a family vacation with them all at once, or one at a time? Keep in mind that schedules can get trickier when trying to juggle multiple schedules. You may also want to consider whether or not your children and their extended families would actually want to spend time together.
Discuss taking a short trip together with your kids. How do your children feel about taking a trip with you? What is their preference on the type of trip they would like to take – one on one, or with extended family, including time with their own siblings? Let them talk, don’t try to influence them one way or another. Keep in mind that the main purpose of the trip is to spend time with your children.
Consider how you might spend your time. What activities do you all enjoy? Are there childhood vacations that might be fun to do again as adults? What about venue, budget, duration? It’s important to do things you all enjoy.
How much time do you actually want to spend together? Do you want to be together the full time, or do you or those going along need some time to themselves?
One thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten a bit older and (hopefully) wiser is that my sons both have minds of their own, and they have many things in common, but a lot of the things they enjoy are also very different. If you are considering a family vacation with more than one of your children, you may consider someone on one time with individual children and/or their families, as well as group family time with all the siblings. You may also want to suggest some “siblings only” activities so they can enjoy being together without the parents.
As a parent, it can be a natural thing to slide back into the role of being in charge, but keep in mind that your children are now grown, have minds of their own, and are capable of making their own choices. If there is still a lot of sibling rivalry (does that ever totally go away?), maybe let each sibling plan a section of the vacation.
The key is to have some tentative trip itinerary before you leave that has considered everyone’s preferences. You’ll all have an idea how things will go once you arrive at your destination. Hopefully, this will prevent tension, arguments, and hurt feelings.
Be flexible and avoid insisting that things go a particular way. As with any trip, things can go awry. Be flexible when it comes to adjusting your plans. This will set a wonderful example for your kids as well as avoid uncomfortable exchanges.
Show love and affection during the trip. A hug in the morning, a squeeze of their hand, or a special look can be wonderful demonstrations of how much you love your children.
Take advantage of this time to learn more about your son or daughter. Have lengthy conversations about things your kids are interested in over dinner or during the walk to the museum. Sometimes life gets busy and you lose touch with the details of your child’s daily life. Demonstrate you want to know all you can about them now that they’re adults.
Consider taking an occasional vacation with your grown children. Vacations together build family connections, strengthen your relationships, and provide opportunities to experience loving adventures as a family. Invite your children over soon and start making those plans.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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Did you find a few more ideas of your own? If so, I’d love to hear about them in the comments, and as always please reach out with your thoughts.
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