Question: Once, when I gave my children cash gifts, one tithed a portion to his church. I said I didn't want my money spent that way. The next time around, I deposited that son's gift into his kids' 529 plans. He said I shouldn't dictate how a gift should be spent. Who is right? -- P.B., Tallahassee Advice from Money readers:
Once a gift leaves the giver's hands -- or bank account -- the giver no longer has control over how that gift is used, spent, returned, donated, or tossed in the trash. -- Leah Ingram, via Facebook
The son is right. The gift should be from the heart, with trust that the giftee will spend it in the way that best gives him joy. In my mind, that's the point of a cash gift. -- Pamela A. Lee, San Francisco
By denying your son the opportunity to express his values, you are sending a clear message: "I have no respect for you or your beliefs." If you value your son, you might tell him, "I would like to give you this money, and I appreciate how important your faith is to you. Is there a way I can respect your beliefs while also honoring my personal challenges around your church?" -- DivideBy0, via CNNMoney.com
Both parent and child are wrong. The parent was wrong in calling the gift he or she already gave "my money" and trying to dictate how it was spent. The son is wrong for thinking he's entitled to another cash gift from the parent who didn't like how he spent the last one. -- Yohance Edwards, via FacebookThe expert take:
A loan can have strings attached; a gift should not. Unless this parent wants to fund 529 plans for all the grandchildren, which would be a lovely gift, he or she shouldn't set up different rules for the kids. That will cause resentment and ultimately be harmful for the family.
The only exception would be if the recipient were doing something self-destructive, like gambling or spending the money on something illegal. -- Thomas Farley, a.k.a. "Mister Manners," author of "Modern Manners"
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