Manners Matter: Gift Giving

Dear Mary Pat,

My son is 15 and has had a girlfriend since October. He wants me to buy a Christmas present for her that would essentially be from him. The item he picked out is $200. Naturally, I’m not going to allow him to spend that much. But it did get me wondering…what is appropriate for a 15-year-old to give to his girlfriend?


Concerned Mama

Ellison Bay, Wis.


Dear Concerned Mama,

Great question. Say, for example, that your son didn’t have to ask you for the money. Maybe he had a summer job or saved his allowance and had $200 to burn. Is it appropriate for him to spend that all on his girlfriend? I say no. Relationships at this age can be shorter lived and you wouldn’t want your son to throw away $200 on a girl who may not be part of his life mid-January, or even December 26th for that matter.

Think of a number you think is reasonable. The one that comes to my mind is $20. If your son doesn’t have $20, then he needs to earn that. You can loan it to him and he can pay you back in a certain length of time or work off his debt by doing jobs around the house that aren’t part of his regular chores. And if he thinks that number isn’t enough, he will have to get creative and get going on a DIY project.

When we were growing up, this question probably wouldn’t have even been asked. Your boyfriend or girlfriend back then would have been given a mix tape or some inexpensive drugstore perfume (Love’s Baby Soft or Stetson Cologne for example) and the parents didn’t need to contribute.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

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