In my view, giving gifts is a substantial responsibility, for the giver. It's quite easy to manipulate or injure people with gifts, especially gifts of money of more than token amounts.I have two nephews, age 15 and 18. They are both doing very well and they have great parents. I've generally asked mom for advice on suitable gifts, which has helped find appropriate gifts and ones that would not be seen as being interfering or damaging by the parents.His mom reports that I got favorable reviews in my older nephew's college application when mentioned that his interest in computers was sparked when his uncle gave him a computer he could tear apart, rebuild and improve as a Christmas gift. I had to remind mom that that gift had been her suggestion, but of course I was pleased by that.I was recently hit up by younger nephew for aid in traveling to a youth leadership program somewhere else in the country. I helped him out with that useful project.I recently offered my brother $5,000 to help defray the costs of college for older nephew, and was disappointed to be turned down. Would I co-sign for a loan for a car --- no. I wouldn't give gifts to finance car insurance either. Learning to earn money to buy luxuries they want is a vital lesson young people need to learn.Nor would I give them chunks of cash now or tell them they might expect to get an inheritance. I'd be glad to help fund useful applications for money for education, but not as economic out patient care that would breed a habit of being dependent on others to pay for expenses. In short, I'm interested in having my nephews continue in their habits of personal responsibility and achievement, not developing habits of getting other people to enable them to develop a taste for spending and consumption. Helping them out to meet those goals of achievement is something I am willing to do, especially college costs.By helping out with the base line costs of college tuition at an expensive liberal arts college (Reed in Portland), my aim was to free the parents from some of that burden so they would be able to decide what other spending they might want to do for their college bound son (like travel, computers, car and such). Better for the parents to finance such choices if they wish and if they have surplus money for it than for me to pay for optional luxuries and leave the parents to struggle with the baseline tuition costs. That's my theory.I still expect the parents to wind up accepting that gift for college. The last conversation was a casual verbal discussion. The next time, I'll have a check in my hand to offer my brother, and it will be that much closer to the time to fork over the big bucks for college tuition (no financial aid for THEM! And no aid based on merit available at Reed, I am told). Harder to turn down a check, I expect.Anyway, those are my theories on gift giving to nieces or nephews, for what they are worth.Seattle Pioneer
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