Back in the day when my children were moving through their college and post-grad years, a colleague at work used to tease me about the many ways Paterfamilias and I made life easier for our grown children--things we did for them that her parents had never done for her. She loved to refer to Paterfamilias as "daddy indulgence."
More recently, I was thinking about her phrase when I was called by a reporter from SmartMoney about a story she was writing about money issues revolving around vacations with grown children. It struck me that as long as we've had children--that is, since they've been babies--we've taken them on vacation with us. It wasn't until they were college age and older that the idea of their paying for all or a piece of that vacation crossed anyone's mind. Certainly, in those post-college years when our children had yet to get career jobs--or were in graduate school--there was no question about who the deep pockets were and who would pay for vacation. If they would deign to join us--skiing over the Christmas holidays or hiking in Vermont in the summer--we would foot the bill. Any significant others on the scene would join us free of charge--that is, they'd bunk in with our kids--but would pay for their own incidentals, such as ski tickets and beer. That was the high point on the daddy indulgence curve. If we didn't indulge, they couldn't afford to join us. And we preferred to have them along.
But when does the Daddy Indulgence curve start to dip down? And how do you get there? Certainly, by the time grown children are in their prime earning years, they should be paying their own way--and we should be making sure that any joint vacation plans are within their means. But there are several years between post-grad and prime. Do you start by splitting the rent on a condo, having them pay their own airfare to wherever it is you're going, letting them buy groceries? And what if one grown child is more in a position to take on a fair share of the vacation costs but the other isn't? The Daddy Indulgence Curve does not arc smoothly or make a perfect bell. It can live on the rise for one child and his or her family but dip for the other. And how does that make each grown child feel--both the ones who still need a subsidy and those who can pay their own way.
Any one else out there with some experience on the Daddy Indulgence Curve? Can you share how you've handled the ups and downs?