Blake’s Advice Column
I am a 47-year-old professional man who loves children, but never had any of my own. Consequently, I have never had to contend with the considerable cost of raising children. Many of my friends are parents, and I feel the urge to buy their kids nice presents I know they want, or that I never received when I was a child, e.g., a wonderful bike or train set. What’s the protocol for giving an expensive gift (e.g., a saxophone that can cost $1,000) to non-related children without creating awkwardness or obligation? Naturally, I would always check with the parents first.
From Richmond, Virginia
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I think it’s great that you want to give gifts to kids. The only danger in that, is the ungrateful kids in today’s society already have a sense of entitlement, and your noble effort might promote even more laziness among our youth. Anyway, here’s some ideas. Gather all of the children together and let them pick from a hat, gift certificates ranging from $1000 for Neiman Marcus to $10 for the Salvation Army. Just show some compassion to the unlucky child that picks the $10 gift certificate as the other kids will tease him or her unmercifully. You can give all of the boys and girls expensive gifts, and explain to them that their parents are selfish tightwads, and they squander their money secretly abusing drugs. To teach them some work ethics, to get the gifts you can have them do chores around your house, like painting, electrical wiring, and roofing, and hopefully you won’t get reported to the Labor Department. If any of the youngsters have computer skills, you can show them how to order things online by accessing their parent’s credit cards. But keep this in mind. Giving gifts to children you’re not related to can arouse the suspicions of parents, with some of them thinking you might have the same mindset of many Catholic priests. In that case, the gift will likely be returned to you by the parent, accompanied with a cop from the Special Victims Unit. I hope this helps.