Dear Carolyn: My 17-year-old grandson bought his 17-year-old girlfriend of barely two months lingerie from Victoria's Secret. I think this is very inappropriate. He thinks I'm a dinosaur. Guidance, please?
Dinosaur: I think if you were his parent, then this would be a great "last call" bell, telling you that you're about to have little to zero say in your son's sex life. If you're a grandparent but acting as his guardian, then that applies.
If you're a grandparent in a traditional grandparent role, then you've got very little to say here except as an academic exercise.
Unless, that is, you're able to communicate with him — as guardian or grand — not the judgmental aspect of your thinking, but the substance behind it.
So, instead of shooting him down as "inappropriate," which just begs him to get defensive without providing much enlightenment, try explaining what you believe. Do it in as accessible a way as you can: "It's your business what you buy with your own money, of course. Be careful about moving fast with new people, though. It takes a long time before you really know someone, and when you fall hard, it's tempting to get serious right away." Or similar. Stick to the message that gifts can speak for us in ways we don't intend.
This is, again, assuming you're able to communicate this way with him. It's another reminder of why it's so helpful to establish early with kids that they can talk to you about difficult things without your freaking out on them. That buys you a lot of leeway when they're older and you have an I'm-Older-So-I-Know-type opinion you think it's important to convey.
Would I use one of those precious opportunities on this specific issue? No, not unless there were context to support that his moving fast was a pattern.
All this being said: If you just think it's too sexy for 17, then, probably best to see this as a stolen-horse/barn-locking-type situation.
Re: Gift: I am a 35-year-old woman who is not even close to prudish, and I would be super weirded out if a guy I was dating for just barely two months bought me lingerie. Can't hurt to have a conversation about the relative intimacy of gifts.
— Weirded Out
Weirded Out: Absolutely, thanks.
Your being 35 vs. 17 could make you more inclined, though, not less, to see this as too intimate.
There's also the potential for the 17-year-old girl herself to respond to the gift as too much too soon — and natural consequences are generally more effective teachers than any third-party warning can be. Still, it's worth a well-meaning try.
Re: Gift: I just queried the 19-year-olds in our office and they all said ICK!!!!!
Icked: I am irrationally smitten with this post.
Re: Gift: Nobody knows the details of the couple's sex life. The guy is in the best position of anyone to know if his girlfriend would like it.
Anonymous: . . . Or to process the information he receives from his girlfriend on its wrongness, right?
Still, if it's possible to do both — to leave it up to him and also to have open, ongoing communication about life, love and skivvies — then I think we're on to something.