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Which is worse - accepting money for birthdays, christmas from estranged parents, or sending them a letter asking them to stop?

(40 Posts)
BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 16:31:16

I really don't know what to do. I am estranged from my parents and have no plans to change this.

They (well my mother) send a cheque for my birthday and my sons birthdays and for Christmas.

I am really not comfortable taking money from someone I don't want a relationship with.

I don't want to simply not cash the cheques as that will lead to contact from them - which really stresses me out - and I will be on edge for ages, waiting for it to happen.

Also, I am not prepared to tell my children presents are from them, but obviously also not prepared to pretend that presents bought with their money is from me, so I put it in a savings account for the children - however any cheques for the children are always accompanied by a note specifying that they want to know what the children were bought. (so far I have simply sent a thank you card signed by me, saying thankyou for books/toys etc) - however this makes me feel like I am taking their money under false pretenses.

i should say that DSs are 2 and 4 - so too young to understand it all yet.

So far, so simple right? Just not take the money - but how do I go about that? I would have to send some kind of message saying - please don't send me any more money - which is REALLY final.

I thought something like: "Since we don't have a relationship at the moment, I am not comfortable accepting gifts from you. You are welcome to continue sending money for the boys if you wish, but please be aware that if you do so, I will put it into savings accounts for them, for when they are 18. Its is obviously up to you if you wish to continue sending money under these circumstances."

The problem is that feels like a really horrible messages to send. So I am stuck - which is worse - accepting money from people you don't have a relationship with, or sending a message saying - stop giving me presents - which thereby makes it totally clear you never intend to have a relationship with them again? - Which feels like a very purposefully painful thing to send?

Gumby Sat 18-Aug-12 16:35:19

Why are you estranged?
Could they be a positive influence in the dcs lives?

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 16:39:03

Gumby - Loads of problems, over years. Basically totally self involved - and no, they really wouldn't be a positive influence in the children's lives.

tribpot Sat 18-Aug-12 16:41:00

One part of me thinks that gifts don't come with conditions attached. So they may want to know what the money is spent on, but they have no particular right to know. So one possible solution might be to accept the money and send a deliberately non-specific thank you, or simply say truthfully "I have put the money into the dses' savings accounts for when they are older".

If they then move the goalposts by declaring either they must be told what the money is for or it stops, OR that it must be spent on the dc or it stops, I think that then gives you the opening to say "in that case I would prefer it to stop, thank you".

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 17:17:48

tribpot - but what about the whole taking money from people I don't want a relationship with? Especially when they send money for my birthday/christmas?

PicklesThePottyMouthedParrot Sat 18-Aug-12 17:22:05

Could you open two savings accounts for each child and deposit it each time into those, then you are not really buying anything with the money.

On the other hand, the DC would still benefit.

I dont see anything dishonest in it unless there was some understanding that the money would lead to meetings etc which you werent going to honour?

Then send one note and say any money you chose to send will go into bank accounts, and you would need not ever contact them again about the matter?

ChitchatAtHome Sat 18-Aug-12 17:25:58

The most important thing is to protect yourself. If accepting the money keeps them away, then keep on doing it. A confrontation with them is clearly something you're keen to avoid.

However, only you know if they are the type of people who will later throw it back in your face that you were quite willing to accept money from them - so you need to decide which confrontation would be worse - one now, or a potential one in the future.

If it were me - small amounts of money, I don't think accepting it is an issue. If it's large amounts of money then I would feel uncomfortable.

PicklesThePottyMouthedParrot Sat 18-Aug-12 17:27:49

OH you already said that!


MsNobodyAgain Sat 18-Aug-12 17:28:24

If you really feel your parents would not be a positive influence, I would send them a note saying due to your relationship with them, you feel uncomfortable accepting the money but if they insist on sending it in future, you will put it in a bank account in your DCs name.

dequoisagitil Sat 18-Aug-12 17:28:50

I think your message is fine. You are estranged and currently have no intention of renewing the relationship.

Don't you think it's more unfair of you to perhaps be giving them hope by accepting the money and responding to their desire to know what you have bought the dc?

Maybe they send the money to try to crowbar their way back into your life or maybe it's without agenda, you're more likely to know which. I think it's nicer to tell them the tactic won't work than to lead them on, as it were.

Perhaps you're not ready for the finality of it, rather than worried about it being horrible for them to receive.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mirry2 Sat 18-Aug-12 17:45:25

Just write and say you feel uncomfortable accepting presents from them as you don't have a or want a relationship and that if they want to give your dc a p[resent you will put it into a savings account for them but will not be telling the dc about it, and that it's their decision whether or not they continue to send presents bearing mind what you've just said.

however they must have doen something really dreadful for you to reject their gifts. Are you sure they aren't trying to make amends?

Nanny0gg Sat 18-Aug-12 17:56:52

If they are so awful that you don't want to see them or for them to have anything to do with your children then I think you should refuse the cheques.

Bit of a mixed-message going on here really.

SuperScrimper Sat 18-Aug-12 18:02:00

When I was estranged from my Mother I sent all cheques back recorded delivery. No note.

If you don't want a relationship it's really weird to accept money IMO.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Such self absorbed and toxic people like your parents use money and gifts to get back at their errant offspring i.e you in this case for going against their will. They are not above using the children to do this by sending money, gifts etc and this is what is happening here. Its another form of power and control. Such gifts always but always come with unspoken conditions and is certainly not done out of altruistic feelings on the part of their grandparents. Its another way too of disregarding any boundary that you have previously set with regards to your parents.

I would not accept any money or gifts from them; all items as of now should be returned unopened and without any accompaning explanation.

The same as superscrimper: if it were me I'd simply send the cheques back. There's no guilt that you've taken money and therefore 'owe' them something, no waiting for inevitable contact, nothing. They can't fail to get the message really

Trifle Sat 18-Aug-12 18:33:51

Just dont cash the cheques then there is no need to say anything. Your parents will know that the cheque hasnt been cashed.

BerthaTheBogBurglar Sat 18-Aug-12 19:03:45

We get cards from my parents on our birthdays and they go in the bin unopened. I opened them to start with and then realised that people who love you and want the best for you don't use your birthday as an opportunity to control you or emotionally blackmail you. If they genuinely wanted to make amends and start over, they wouldn't send a letter about that on my birthday, would they? Not if they were thinking about me and my feelings, rather than just their own. They'd let me enjoy my birthday in peace and write some other time.

So if they do send cheques, I don't know about it.

You seem undecided about what you want with them. You are estranged, don't want a relationship with them, and yet you are opening post from them and thinking about messages to send them.

I know you said you don't want to just not cash the cheques, as that will lead to contact. What sort of contact? What are you afraid of? Is what they'll do, worse than you sending them the message you suggested? I suspect that they aren't agonising about whether their behaviour is horrible or not.

And if you do send them some message - won't that provoke contact in the same way as not cashing the cheques? I am completely no-contact with my parents because I know that any contact at all will open the floodgates again.

DeckSwabber Sat 18-Aug-12 19:08:57

Depends how final you want this to be. Is there really no hope of reconciliation at any time in the future?

mirry2 Sat 18-Aug-12 19:14:27

Just put return to sender on the envelope and pop it in the postbox.

Abitwobblynow Sat 18-Aug-12 19:15:23

I never cashed the cheques. I think returning them is a bit harsh.

mirry2 Sat 18-Aug-12 19:19:25

Abit wobly are you the op? I'm confused.

Abitwobblynow Sat 18-Aug-12 19:20:13

And just to warn you: any letters will be full of how could you and do you know how much m or d is suffering, and we are going to die any minute.

Don't read them.

tribpot Sat 18-Aug-12 19:20:41

For your own cheques, you could if you wished pay them into an account solely for this purpose, so that if they ever threw back at you the fact you'd accepted the money you could either:
- make a large donation to a charity you know they would hate
- send it back to them with no explanation.

This might be less confrontational than telling them not to send it - although less straight forward as well.

sweetkitty Sat 18-Aug-12 19:23:51

I sent the birthday cards back unopened with the cash still in them. From my toxic mother.

She sent me a letter saying everything was my fault, I was a difficult child and made her feel inferior even when I was a small child. She said she has never felt welcome in my house but her money and gifts always were! She's done really weird things like phone up complaining about the cost of Christmas ( the classic feel sorry for me thing), I would say all don't worry about presents for DP and I and get the DC a tiny thing, then she would send cards to the DC with more than double the usual amount in but not even a card for DP and I. Not that we wanted anything but the message was there.

When she never phoned or bothered visiting for DD2s 3rd birthday (she was never interested in DD2) but stuck a card in with my brothers present, I told my brother to take it back. I deliberated about sticking it in a savings account etc but that would have meant acknowledging it in some way.

I also didn't want the "she never calls or visits but takes my money poor me" thing. Now I make as much effort as she does i.e. none, haven't seen her in over 3 years and she has a grandson she has never met. I don't miss her at all, she did nothing positive for me.

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 19:24:54

Some very interesting points made, lots to think about. I will try and answer some of the points made and questions asked

I don't think they are trying to resume a relationship - I suspect they are doing it because this way they can say "at least we carried on sending money!" - i.e. to justify themselves, and feel good about themselves, and also to be martyrs to themselves.
- I suppose I feel that if I then refuse the money, they can blame me - i.e. look what she did - we tried but she refused. On the other hand, they can blame me for taking it too - i.e. she wouldn't talk to us but still took our money. I also worry about what they might say to my children in future if they get in touch with them but frankly there will be bigger issues than any money not given at that point.

They live far away, so no danger of them turning up on the doorstep.

I worry that if I simply don't cash the cheques at some point I will get an email saying " does this mean you think we are the worse people in the world, or haven't you received it?" - and waiting for that message will stress me out.

I do agree with those people who say its not appropriate to take money from someone I don't want a relationship with, and its sending mixed messages.

Having read all your messages and having written all of this has really helped clarify it in my mind, I realize that I project on to my mother the pain I would feel if one of my children felt like that about me but while I can't be sure how she feels, non of her actions have indicated that she feels that pain at all and in the end I can only be responsible for how I behave, and doing what I think is right.

To those people who say that maybe I am not ready for it to be this final, I think you have a point - someone on mumsnet wrote something really wise once about how if you are estranged from toxic parents, some part of you will always think, maybe I can get them to love me after all! I realize that part of me wants her to be totally devastated if I send that message, as that would mean she does love me, but then I don't want to imagine a loving mother being totally devastated by my actions - and then my brain fries!

I think the other issue is that I can hear their voices in my head, and the things they will say about me if I do send that message, or simply stop cashing the cheques, but again I have to remember that I have no power over what they say - and at least I don't have to actually hear it any more.

Its coming up to my birthday which is why its all in my mind at the moment. This time last year we were newly estranged and when she send me the money for my birthday I did take it as some kind of attempt at reconciliation and sent a pleasant thankyou email. She never even responded to it (and i know she got it due to something she sent through months later when she wanted something)

I think that at some point I will have to send that message - as I simply don't want to take money from them. What do you think about the DCs? Simply say no about them too, or say - if continue will put into an account for them?

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 19:29:05

Bertha - damn right they won't be agonizing!

Tribpot - good suggestions - but a bit complex and lots of work - would probably rather either give it all to the DCs or accept non of it.

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 19:30:46

Also - in regard to the questions about how final I want this to be, the longer the estrangement goes on, the calmer and happier I am about all of it - while I desperately wish my parents were different (especially my mother), the reality is that they aren't.

The definitely aren't going to change - and I can't see that any good would come of having a relationship with them.

mirry2 Sat 18-Aug-12 19:31:40

Actually bumpt I think it is your dcs money so you don't really have the right to knock it back. i would put it into an account labelled GP so it is kept separate. if you 've only been estranged for a year, things can change.

i never thought I'd forgive my oen dm for her behaviour towards me and even when she died I felt nothing, but now, years later I actually miss her and have semi forgotten how awful she was.

ImperialBlether Sat 18-Aug-12 20:19:11

Have you told them that you don't have a relationship with them any more? Has that conversation been had? I think if it has, you should send the cheques back and remind them of the conversation.

If, however, you're just avoiding them, then I would put all cheques into the children's savings account. I would send a pre-printed card and write "Thank you for the cheque, I've put it into the children's savings accounts for when they are older."

If they have ever been violent or abusive towards you, though, I wouldn't cash the cheques and wouldn't return them.

Oh and if you cash them, I wouldn't tell the children about it at all.

BumptiousandBustly Sat 18-Aug-12 20:37:18

Imperial conversation has been had. To point of me saying I can't cope with relationship at the mo! No timeline stated,

Never physically abusive but emotionally abusive!

Don't want to just not cash cheques as then just waiting for them to contact me. Would rather keep some sense of control.

Think I will send message saying don't send me anything. And that if they choose to send money for the boys it will be banked!

mirry2 Sat 18-Aug-12 21:12:16

Bumtios I think tat's the best option

tribpot Sat 18-Aug-12 21:14:47

That's the most open solution, Bumptious, although I worry that you will worry if you don't hear back from them. Particularly as they may then use the next cheque for one of your dses as a way of venting their displeasure.

daisie4 Sat 18-Aug-12 22:10:32

I had this - I just didn't cash the cheques and the next year they only sent cards to children. I just knew what my parents would say - well she doesn't want anything to do with us but she's happy to accept our money.
I also knew they wouldn't contact me, they were just using birthdays etc to remind me they are lovely people who don't hold a grudge and I'm not hmm.

slambang Sat 18-Aug-12 23:14:32

Isn't saying 'don't send money but if you do I'll cash it' sending mixed messages too?

What about sending them the dcs bank account details with a message ' Thankyou for the cheques you have sent so far but I do not wish you to send any more. If you would like to give something to the dcs you can deposit money into theor savings accounts at XXXXX.

ImperialBlether Sun 19-Aug-12 00:31:07

OK next time they send money, bank it in the children's accounts and say:

"Thanks for the cheque; I've banked it in the children's savings accounts for when they are older. I'd prefer it if you saved your money as the children don't need anything. A card will be fine if you want to remember their birthday."

BumptiousandBustly Mon 20-Aug-12 18:27:07

Thankyou very much for all your help and support - after thinking about it for a few days I think I will:

a) wait until my birthday and see if they actually send anything - maybe they also think its time to stop this.

b) if they do send something, send a letter saying: Thankyou very much however given the state of our relationship I don't feel comfortable accepting gifts from them.

c) with regard to DSs - say: It is up to you if you continue sending presents to the boys, but you need to be aware that if you do, I will be putting the money into accounts for them, for when they are older.

That I think is the best I can do in the situation I am in.

tribpot Mon 20-Aug-12 18:34:11

That sounds reasonable, Bumptious. Hope you enjoy your birthday when it comes.

mampam Mon 20-Aug-12 18:55:15

Bumptious I am in a very similar situation to you although my parents don't send anything to me just the DC's. I give the DC's the money and don't acknowledge my parents in any way because I know that any kind of acknowledgement on my part will encourage them.

Like you I know that they don't send the money out of the kindness of their hearts, they are playing the victims to themselves and anyone else who will listen. I know this of old as I've seen it happen many times before, not just with myself but my brother too.

I feel no guilt about not acknowledging them as I have finally learnt to put my needs and the needs of my DC's and DH first instead of having my life ruled and manipulated by these toxic people.

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