Q: My husband and I have a nominally close friend who recently gave my son a gift of a car. He wrote the thank you note. Now, he has given both our sons money to buy Christmas presents for us. I am beginning to feel very uncomfortable. What should I do?
A: Unless you suspect he has some ulterior motive, you can accept this generosity, or you can manage it. You could, for example, have your sons return the money, with thanks, or you could return it and say it is incredibly generous of him, but you are teaching your sons to learn to live within their own budgets so can’t accept because this gives them a different message. Of course the car is probably outside your son’s budget, but is a little different a situation. If you do suspect an ulterior motive, then you have to be firm and tell him that his generosity is overwhelming but you simply cannot accept any more gifts because you believe in returning such acts of kindness, in kind, and you simply won’t be able to do that. He would have to respect your wishes. Say it with warmth and thanks, but be firm, nonetheless.