Thursday, December 19, 2013

Son Learns Expensive Lesson About Being A Grown-Up

Dear Tazi:

My son turned 21 this summer and, as planned, he moved out into his own apartment. The reasons were many - it was time, he had been saving for a few years, he wants to be an adult - but the biggest reason that I can see is because I do not allow alcohol in my home. My own father was an alcoholic, so my wife and I do not allow alcohol in the house. Because we do not live close to any bars and my son knows better than to drink and drive (we hope!) this left him unable to drink at all unless he had his own apartment.

"Joseph" and his best friend have found an affordable two-bedroom apartment in a working-class neighborhood that is very different from the upper-middle-class upbringing they had, but the area is populated with good people, and a Neighborhood Crime Watch group keeps the area safe. My wife and I have little to worry about when it comes to our son's safety; it is his attitude about money and worldly goods that concerns us.

We asked Joseph for his Christmas list when we saw him for Thanksgiving dinner, and he emailed it to us that weekend. My wife and I were both taken aback when we read some of the expensive items he listed. For example, Joseph needs new sneakers, which is understandable, but instead of just asking for new sneakers he listed a very expensive brand-name pair that costs over $100! He doesn't even run or play a sport! He also needs a new mobile phone, since the screen on his was shattered when he dropped it, but he is requesting the new iPhone 5 ($850!) as a replacement for his current iPhone 4. Joseph's list also contains practical items, like bed sheets, but again he asks for the best on the market - a single Ralph Lauren pillowcase is $115! The entire sheet set Joseph wants costs almost $500!

When we asked Joseph why he wants such expensive things for Christmas, he told us it was because we can afford them and he can't. Tazi, while it is true my wife and I can afford to purchase such expensive items, that does not mean that we do so on a regular basis! My sneakers are expensive, but are hardly top of the line - and I run daily! My wife and I both have smart phones, but we bought them under contract for a considerable discount; and the one set of luxury sheets I have ever bought my wife were for out 20th wedding anniversary! I like to think that after 20 years of wedded bliss she deserves a present like that! (For the record, I also bought her jewelry! She asked for the sheets, lest you think I am a jerk!).

My wife and I are united on not spending so much on single items for Joseph, preferring he earn the money to buy such things for himself rather than expect others to simply bestow such things upon him, but we differ on what to do about it. She would like to write Joseph a lump-sum check for Christmas - say, $1500 - and let him buy whatever he wants; I would rather we buy him less expensive versions of what he wants - say, a $40.00 set of sheets by Better Homes and Gardens, and a nice pair of Nike from JC Penney - and a check for $1,000. I am afraid if we give him a check and nothing else he will spend it on luxury items. At least if we give him less expensive versions of what he seeks we will be conveying the message that we don't approve of his luxury choices. Don't you think so, Tazi?

Father Of A Big Spender

Dear Father Of A Big Spender:

I DO think so! I am so happy that you have been reading my column long enough to know how I think! Now what am I thinking?

Time's up! I'll tell you!

I am also happy to know that you bought your wife jewelry as well as new sheets for your 20th anniversary - which by the way is the China Anniversary; linen is the fourth, so you are sixteen years late! Jewelry makes up for it, though! Whoa, this catnip has me rambling...back your issue...

Has your wife explained why she just wants to hand over a check for Christmas instead of shopping for your son? Is she so upset over his gift requests that she is just plain disgusted? Is she afraid he will reject any gifts she buys that are not what he has specifically requested? Is she secretly hoping he will run out and buy those Ralph Lauren sheets so his cat can snuggle deep into the softness?

Tazi at home...

I think you should discuss with your wife her reasons for wanting to skip shopping for your son and cut him a check instead. This should help the two of you reach agreement on this matter. Personally, my larger concern is your son's reason for moving out of your home. Are you sure it was his desire to drink? If that is the case, is writing him a large check really the best idea? As a compromise, why not offer to pay his half of the rent for a few months as a Christmas gift from you and his mother? You could send the checks directly to his landlord. This way you will at least know that it is paid, and that his drinking will not lead to homelessness.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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