I've always felt the genius behind Social Qs had our back--most of the time. Here Philip Galanes covers us again.
A dad writes about his three grown sons--ages 26 to 32. Every year he invites them to vacation with him and his wife, all expenses paid. They always accept, except this year, one of the sons declined. He made plans to go away with friends to pursue one of his hobbies. The dad understood. What he didn't understand was the son's complaint that the dad was not paying for the trip with his friends when he was covering the costs of his brothers' vacation. "Are we being unfair?" the dad wanted to know.
Galanes does not suggest that paying for an adult child's portion of a family vacation is somehow wrong, that it's or spoiling or infantizing a grown child. After all, if we can afford it, it's more of a self-indulgence than a child-indulgence. But let me let Galanes sum it up:
Spoiled brat at Departure Gate 39! Your son is an adult. ...The implicit bargain of vacations like yours is that parents cover the costs of their adult children’s travel to facilitate more time together. It is not a voucher to parts unknown.
As to what the dad could possibly say to his son, Galanes offers this bit of tact:
We hope that you know the purpose of these trips is bringing us all together. We'd be delighted to pay for you, if you want to come along."