Sunday, August 03, 2008

Accepting Gifts

A little over a week ago a discussion at work came up on how much you should help your children out financially. Almost everyone was of the opinion that if you help them out too much, they will not appreciate it and "waste [their] substance." My wife and I have also had this discussion, wondering how to start up a savings plan for our kids, and to what use it will be put, what should we do about allowance, how much should we encourage them to save, etc. There are many topics under helping out children financially, and I'd like to focus on helping them out later in life (school, starting a new family, new home, etc.)

I agree that you should never get something for nothing. If one is blessed enough to receive financial help of any sort and then either uses it without showing appreciation or wastes it on something other than its intended purpose, he/she is in essence receiving something and doing nothing. It could be argued that there were no explicit instructions or contractual agreement with the receipt of the money, but hopefully we all prescribe to a higher level of ethics and moral behavior.


A parent decides to help his/her child through school and provides the child with the needed money. As I see it there are a couple ways with which the child might accept the endowment:
  1. The child accepts the money and does little or nothing to express his/her gratitude and may or may not put it to wise use.
  2. The child refuses the money claiming he can make it on his own or that his parents have already done enough for him.
  3. The child accepts it and works hard, showing gratitude, knowing and not expecting to be able to fully repay the giver of the gift.
If the child accepts the money, it is expected that he will work hard, but if he doesn't he is actively using his agency to do with it as he wills, which may determine the presence or absence of future similar gifts. If the gift is refused, the child could be considered as ungrateful, foolish, or even prideful.

Either way the child is being very ungrateful and the parent can choose to take the money back, or urge the child to rethink their decision.

What is the best way to react or use these types of gifts? I've thought about this a bit and have come to the conclusion that no person in their right mind should refuse gifts given with such love and good intent as parents usually give. I understand not all parents are in such a position and would love to, and what they don't have materially to give they make up with the love that they show.

I found this easy to accept when I consider all that our Heavenly Father offers to gives us, (though not unconditionally). We never turn to Him and tell Him to stop blessing us, or that we don't need a particular blessing. Our parents have a very similar relationship to us here on earth. I think this is a good opportunity to practice our gratitude and learn how to properly thank them, never expecting or intending to pay them back, but just to show love in return. If you feel obligated to do something in return as payment, I think you might be missing the whole point of the gift; but if you don't do anything to show your gratitude, something in your own life needs to be evaluated.

I find myself saying "thank you" a lot, but not doing anything "extra" in return for what I'm blessed with. The Lord has asked us to love others which is the same as showing love to Him.

What are some ways that we can show love and gratitude to our parents when we are no longer living in the same house?


sherrie bebe said...

I have too many thoughts on this topic to fit it as a comment. (Or I just ramble too much). It'll have to be a separate post. Check out my blog if you're at all curious about what I think. It'll be posted shortly.

John and Jessica said...

Hi Lee,
This is Jessica (Vazquez) from El Paso. I found your blog through Patrik's. It seems as though you guys just had your baby boy!! (Patrik had told me you guys were expecting a boy) :) CONGRATULATIONS! Hope you're well and that recovery is going well for your wife. You have a CUTE family!

(sorry my comment is totally not related to your post, I just wasn't sure where else to comment)