Dear Grandparenting: A situation has come up that deserves your attention. My grandson, who I will call Joe, always had a way with the ladies. Now he has gone and gotten a certain young damsel in a family way. She is determined to have the child and Joe insists he will “man up” and besides, thinks the child is his. Not only that, they are planning to get married at the beach this summer.
I happen to know that this young lady has an extensive sexual history. Don’t ask how I know, just believe it. She might not be the village tramp, but she is certainly no innocent.
Joe has never stayed with a girl for more than several months and he’s had plenty. This girl seems to have the same sort of track record. I’ll hazard to guess that their chances of sustained marriage are about zero.
Before he died, my late husband set aside money he left to each of our grandchildren when they get married or turn 28, whichever comes first. The grandchildren know about it. Joe would be the first to collect.
You can see my dilemma. Joe’s money is in the low five figures but enough to make him think he’s a big shot. Would you ante up for Joe or not? Annie, Marysville, Washington
Dear Annie: We recall what renowned investor Warren Buffett, for decades among the world’s half-dozen richest people, said about the right-sized inheritance; enough money so younger family members feel they can do anything, but not so much that they can do nothing.
Most grandparents only wish it were that simple. Distributing significant sums of money to one’s grandchildren is not without risks. Each grandchild will be different. Some are born savers, others born spenders — easy come, easy go types.
But the fact that your grandchildren know the terms — upon marriage or age 28 — puts you in a bind. And since Joe is getting married, he rightly figures he’s soon entitled to the money. Do otherwise, and Joe will think you disapprove of him and/or his wife-in-waiting, triggering resentments and recriminations all up and down the family line. Who needs that?
You could dole it out incrementally, but if you do so for Joe, you must do the same for each grandchild. We do know one thing: Unequal or preferential treatment of your grandchildren could set them arguing and fighting among themselves for decades. The prospect of sudden money can make people behave quite strangely.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Troy Esposito from Arlington Heights, Illinois, was on his cell phone with daughter Ginny discussing what to bring for dinner. Ginny said she was all set before adding, “Bring some lettuce in case someone is in the mood for a good salad.”
The next thing Troy heard was the voice of Troy’s granddaughter, Ashley, 8, in the background. “Ashley to Grandpa. All I ever hear around here is salad. Salad is ruining my life.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.