My mom and dad both come from big families of nine and ten kids, respectively. My dad’s parents died long before I was born, so I never had a chance to have a relationship with them. On my mom’s side, I was blessed to have my grandparents in my life through my late twenties.
However, I was one of 34 grandchildren for my maternal grandparents. While my grandparents had plenty of love to share, they did not have plenty of money. For our birthdays each year, my cousins and I each received one crisp dollar bill in our birthday card.
What I did get from my grandparents was plenty of time. I was blessed that my grandparents lived with us for three months every summer. I have fond memories of evening chats, card games, and enjoying meals together. When my grandparents went to Florida every winter, my grandma always wrote me letters.
And honestly, I liked it that way.
Money Can Alter The Grandparent/Grandchild Relationship
To me, it seems that the grandchild/grandparent relationship is altered when money is involved.
My mom has a good friend, Brenda, who is in her late sixties. Brenda has disposable income and is able to financially help her grandchildren. Recently, she gave one (adult) grandchild money to fix his car that he had damaged in an accident. Brenda’s only caveat was that the grandchild, who has a drinking problem, get his life together.
Well, as you may expect, this did not happen. Now, Brenda is angry and feels taken advantage of, especially since this is not the first large financial gift that she has given to this grandchild, who, in turn, continually disappoints her with his poor choices.
Watching a grandchild struggle with alcoholism is hard enough, but when money is thrown in the mix, the relationship is altered.
Fighting The Urge To Spoil A Grandchild
My own mom, who does not have an excess of money in her retirement, loves to spoil my kids. I was honestly shocked at the number of gifts she bought my kids this past Christmas. Luckily, she showed them to me beforehand. I reluctantly had to sit down with her and ask her to hold back some of the gifts and not give them all to the kids.
Why? I don’t want my kids to look at my mom as someone who they can ask for money or expect to receive a lot of gifts from.
I want them to have a purer relationship with my mom as I had with my own grandparents. When my kids think back on my mom, I want them to remember the time they spent together, not the things that my mom bought them.
Contribute Without Spoiling
In day to day life, I tend to think that grandparents should not spend a lot of money on their grandkids. However, an investment into a college fund or a Roth IRA would make a wonderful gift.
Dr. Meg Meeker, a pediatrician and author of six books, argues,
“Many grandparents want to give money to their grandchildren at Christmas time. One of the best ways to do this is by putting money in an education fund or other investment vehicle. Then, you can give a small gift to the child to open on Christmas morning. This is a great way to set aside money for grandchildren and not let them feel overindulged. And what parent isn’t going to appreciate the financial help? Investing money for them is a much better use of funds than buying an expensive gift that the child will grow tired of in a matter of months” (DaveRamsey.com).
If you’re a grandparent, do you financially spoil your grandkids? If so, does it cause any difficulties in your relationships?
If you’re a parent, do your own parents go overboard when buying items for your kids?