Your ‘tween daughter only wants cash for her holiday gifts. Should you oblige?
Parent advice (from our panel of staff contributors):
Sure. Why not? If she loves to shop, which clearly she does, this is the best present you can give. Deliver the cash in a cute card or even in a medicine bottle with a clever Rx on the label that you write yourself. And be sure to give her a chock-full stocking so she can still enjoy some gifts on Christmas morning.
Despite the soullessness of the cash gift, the idea of a gift is to give the recipient something he/she will like, correct? Eventually, we all get to the point with our offspring when letting them pick the present or do their own shopping is what makes everybody happy. If you go this route, I’d suggest a mall gift card or something similar, or a debit card that requires a password. Then you have some protection in the event of loss or theft.
I think she’s welcome to have a preference, and if she wants it for something worthwhile – say, she’s saving up for a beautiful guitar or a meaningful trip – you’re free to go along with that, and even to let Grandma and Aunt Fanny know if they usually give gifts and appreciate such feedback. But you’re also within your rights to say that the gift is up to the giver – you’re not an online shopping cart – so she should be happy to receive anything that’s given to her. Often the best gifts are ones in which the giver comes up with something that the giftee never would have thought of.
Before you alert the relatives to put the checks in the mail, take a moment to find out what’s behind your daughter’s request.
“The first step is to understand what this is about,” says psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler, author of “I’m Not Mad, I Just Hate You! A New Understanding of Mother-Daughter Conflict” (Penguin). “Is she trying to save up for something? That’s something you’d want to encourage. Does she want to donate money to a charity? Does she have her eye on some Ugg boots?”
Her reasoning isn’t necessarily going to inspire you to go with or against the request. But it may spark a discussion about money.
“Especially if there’s something she wants that she thinks her parents won’t buy her,” says Cohen-Sandler. “You can have a conversation about how, as her parents, you have the final say over how she spends her money.”
Cohen-Sandler sees little about the daughter’s request that should alarm a parent.
“I don’t think asking for cash is acting any more entitled than making a three-page list of all the things you want,” she says.
“When you’re a ‘tween, you’re not earning any real money besides maybe a minimal allowance, so getting $50 can be really magical. We have to remember we’re talking about a little kid here.”
If you feel a little disappointed that you won’t get to shop for a few of her favorite things, consider taking the majority of what you’d spend on your daughter and giving her that in cash. Then spend the other portion on one or two small things that she may delight in opening.
“Or present the money in gift cards or as a mommy gift certificate so you can pick things out together,” Cohen-Sandler suggests. “Then the gift is really a shopping spree or a day together.”
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By HEIDI STEVENS