One of my favourite pf bloggers, Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks, recently wrote a post responding to a comment she received about whether or not she's truly financially independent because she does things like letting her parents for dinners out and the like.
I think the commenter made a valid point about many people in our age range (post-college, mid- to late-twenties) accepting money from their parents. I've been working since I was 13 (I was a busgirl every other Saturday at a restaurant where my mom worked), and I do get annoyed by people my age who are constantly asking for or getting money from their parents to pay for things like groceries, gas, etc. That said, I hardly think that allowing your parents to pay for dinner when you go out to eat together is something for which you should be ridiculed. My parents often take me out to dinner when I visit them, and they get annoyed when I try to pay -- taking me out to dinner is something they enjoy doing, probably because they know it's a treat for me and that I appreciate it. I don't think this negates my financial independence in any way. I paid (and will be paying for the next five years, at least) my own way through college. That doesn't mean my parents haven't helped me along the way; in college, they would buy my groceries every once in a while when they visited, despite my protests. When I had to start paying down my student loans and didn't have a part-time job yet, my dad gave me $100-$200 each month for a few months to help me out. He helped my brother in the same way. I'm sure that my parents feel guilty that they weren't able to contribute to my education, and that was their way of helping out for a while until I got on my feet. I appreciated their help and accepted it as a gift, not something I felt entitled to as their daughter.
I'll admit that I go on vacation with my parents about once a year. My parents rent a house in Florida for a week or two in late February/early March most years, and I usually go to visit them for some of the time. Next month, actually, C and I are going to spend a few days with them in Florida at the house they're renting with my aunt and uncle for two weeks. We're paying for our own plane tickets, and we'll be treating everyone to dinner one of the nights we're there (and probably making dinner at least one night, too). My brother is also coming down for a few days, and so are some of my cousins. My family invited us to visit them, and we're paying our own way down there. Maybe I am spoiled, but I love spending time with my family (especially when the extended family is involved, since I so rarely see them), and I look forward to these trips. I appreciate the chance to see everyone in one place and relax without the pressures of the holidays, which are the times we're usually all together. I don't feel entitled, but grateful. My family knows this, and that's what matters.