Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Young Is Too Young To Give A Gift Of Fine Jewelry?

Dear Tazi:

My wife and I are having a disagreement about our 14-year-old son. It has to do with dating and money. A few summers ago “Brady” met a young lady at a party and they have been “dating” ever since, albeit the fact that it is “long distance” since neither of them are old enough to drive and she lives twenty minutes away and is not on a direct bus route. They see each other a few times a month, Skype a few times a week, and text daily. She is a lovely girl, and a good influence on my son – his school grades have vastly improved (she is an honor roll student) and he now puts the manners we have tried to instill in him into practice.

We give Brady an allowance of $20/week, with the agreement that $5/week goes into his personal savings for large and/or expensive purchases. Over the years we have increased his allowance based upon his responsibilities, always with the agreement that a few dollars go into his personal savings. He has managed to save a tidy sum, as well as learn the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work.

The other night over dinner, Brady informed his mother and me that he would like to buy his girlfriend an “open heart” pendant that he saw advertised on TV. My wife practically choked on her dinner and – without consulting me – declared that he absolutely would not be purchasing his girlfriend fine jewelry; that he is far too young to give such a serious gift; and that she will not allow him to spend such a large sum of money. Brady responded in kind, telling his mother that he can spend his money any way he wants, and stormed away from the dinner table.

Later that night I brought up the subject with my wife, telling her that I believe she overreacted; that Brady has been dating his girlfriend for two years now; and that he would like to give her a token of his affection to remind her of him, since they are so often apart. My wife once again reacted poorly, and I am afraid I spoke some ugly truths to her, ending with my personal belief that she is trying to keep our son her little boy and not allow him to grow up.

The next morning, things were still a little icy between my wife and I when Brady handed us a printout of a letter you answered on a very similar topic; however, I believe the people involved in that situation were all adults. My wife and I are both wondering what kind of advice you would give regarding our situation. We have agreed to follow your advice.

Connecticut Father

Dear Connecticut Father:

I believe the letter to which you refer dealt with the issue of how soon is too soon to give a gift of jewelry; and you are correct, the issue was between two adults. My advice in your situation will be a little different, but first we all need to look at the big picture.

Your son is not planning on buying his lady friend a diamond engagement ring or even something that comes in a pale blue box (that was a reference to Tiffany’s, for those not in the know!).

A Jane Seymour “Open Hearts” pendant is a very affordable, even for a young person, with pendant appropriate for teenage couples priced around $80. For your son, this represents an investment of one month’s allowance, which is not entirely unreasonable…although I am not entirely comfortable with this price point considering his age. However…

Since your son has faithfully followed your rule that he save a portion of his weekly allowance for high end purchases, I am hesitant to suggest that you dishonor your end of the agreement. Fourteen is a difficult age, a point in life where a young person starts looking for ways to express their independence; Brady’s desire to give his girlfriend something that reflects his feelings for her.

I think you should have a father-son talk with Brady about his intention to purchase his girlfriend a piece of fine jewelry. Explain to him that just as his mother did not react well, his girlfriend’s parents may have the same reaction when they discover a boy has made such a purchase for their daughter. Try to get to the reason why Brady wants to buy his girlfriend this pendant. Is it because he fears that other boys are expressing interest in her? Is it because she has expressed an interest in this piece of jewelry? How would he feel if something were to happen and the two of them were to break up; would he be alright with her keeping the pendant? A gift, once given, cannot be demanded back. If at this point Brady still wants to buy his girlfriend the pendant he has in mind I suggest that you allow it, on the conditions that he ask her parents’ permission to give it and that the price remain within reason.

Once you have ironed out all of these details with Brady, I suggest that you lay down a few ground rules about how he is allowed to spend his money in the future. This should help to circumvent any future arguments about money while still allowing him the independence that a fourteen year old boy craves.


P.S.  A nice alternative would be a few Alex and Ani bangles! The are a great way to show you care, won't break the bank, are made of fine materials, and are very fashionable! Plus, they are made in the USA!

Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with a Bachelors of Arts in Communications. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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