Every year about this time, Teresa George's friends start asking if her parents would like to adopt a few extra grown-up children into their family -- for a couple of weeks anyway. That's because every summer, Mrs. George's parents treat their entire brood -- 13 in all -- to a week or more at the Alisal Guest Ranch just north of Santa Barbara, Calif.
None of the Taylor siblings, all in their 30s, has missed a year
since they were children. Pregnancies have been announced and christenings held during their week together.
Mrs. George readily acknowledges her own family couldn't afford such a wonderful vacation every year if her parents didn't pick up the tab. "It's our pleasure," replies her mother, Camille Taylor. The annual trip, the Taylors are convinced, has helped to keep the family together..
Resort owners and travel agents around the country say they are seeing many family groups like the Taylors vacationing together with Grandma and Grandpa picking up the bill. For some lucky families, it's an annual or frequent event.
For others, it's a one-time splurge for an anniversary or simply because it's time. "I worried that the next time we would all get together would be my funeral," explained Ann Schafer, a widow who lives in suburban Philadelphia. "It has been 10 years since we were all together."
So last summer, Mrs. Schafer gathered her three children, their spouses and six grandchildren at the Tyler Place, a resort on Lake Champlain in Vermont that has been a host to families for 50 years.
L "Go for it before the grandchildren get too old," she urges.
It's wise to make sure the family has enough room to spread out and enough different activities to keep three generations and disparate interests amused and busy.
If the siblings don't all get along, they won't on vacation, warns Marion Lindblad-Goldberg, a family psychologist who practices at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center. Consider taking one child's family at a time, she suggests. Don't let the money symbolize a parent's control or power over grown children, either.
Before booking the trip, make sure to discuss the idea thoroughly.
Still, these trips are well worth the effort. Relationships with grandparents are very important to children's development, explains Don Wertlieb, a child psychologist who heads Tufts University's Child Studies Department. It doesn't matter if the trip the grandparents are suggesting isn't your dream vacation, Dr. Wertlieb says. "It's just one vacation that's worth the compromise when families hardly see each other."