Ask Mister Manners: Can a grandparent dictate how grandson spends his graduation money?
After finishing high school last June, my grandson took a year off, spending the pandemic doing not much but playing video games. He’ll be starting college this fall, and I’d like to give him a monetary gift. Unfortunately, I’m concerned he’ll spend the cash on something wasteful. Would it be improper of me to stipulate how the money can be used?
If you gave your grandson a sweater, would you insist he not wear it on Tuesdays? If you gave him a harmonica, would you make him promise never to play Maroon 5? Your gift is not a bequest and should come with zero strings. Once he opens the envelope, how he uses the money is up to him, not you.
With that in mind, if you can’t shake the feeling he will splurge his graduation windfall on something you deem unredeeming, perhaps cash is not your best option. There are myriad less risky ways to convey your congratulations.
If the two of you share a common interest, consider gifting him an experience you can both enjoy together, such as a special dinner, a sporting event or a night at the theater. Alternatively, if your tastes are too divergent, how about giving him a budget and going online shopping together for some of the items he’ll need for the fall semester?
Just don’t flinch if he insists his college experience will be incomplete without a VR headset.
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