WWYD: Christmas Gift

(56 Posts)
tony61 Tue 03-Dec-13 12:30:51

Would appreciate your advice or ideas on the following…

… it’s a wwyd about giving child a gift for Christmas…

Background:
Husband and I had our second child earlier this year, after announcing birth etc to family and friends oldest (step) child (22) went "ape", saying dreadful things to their dad, very hurtful things eg feckless father, you have too many children already, shouldn’t be allowed more, you’ve abandoned your older children, only care about your new family, have never helped me or mum, Mums the best she’s done everything and been to everything (you get the general idea)!

So on the evening of our youngest child’s birth my husband was up at the hospital (with me) in tears.

Apparently this started off in the afternoon as a series of texts, and then husband called sc and tried to talk but was told all of the above, he said at the time he didn’t interrupt just listened and tried to discuss but no joy. Told child he loved them and was there for them. Attempted to call the following day but it was the same. There has been no reconciliation since, and my husband is reluctant to call as he doesn’t want to be abused again, he has said if his oldest child calls he will chat as if nothing ever happened (but that hasn’t happened yet). I do understand these feelings and thoughts are coming from somewhere, but I don’t pretend to know where.

Husband has always supported his child and their mum, has always been at the end of a telephone [and the week before they were chatting about changing jobs, new home etc (so on this occasion this all came out of the blue)]. Has attempted to get to; every event/occasion possible but we live 2 hours’ drive away so it hasn’t always been possible, but he certainly isn’t feckless or anything else that was said.

We had a similar falling out (several years ago) just before the birth of our first child and it took a year for father and child to be reconciled. SC had no interest in their new sibling on that occasion and hasn’t shown any towards their new sibling on this (but that’s something else).

So with Christmas a couple of weeks away husband and I are working out what presents we’re getting for family etc, but we really don’t know what to do for oldest sc. My heart says to send a gift but my head says, you can’t hate someone else and their family (me and the kids) but still say Ill happily expect/ take your gift!!

But I think if we don’t send a gift they would take it very personally, but I feel are there not consequences for saying hateful things to people. I appreciate that things were said in the heat of the moment and I’m sure some will say my husband should call, but I think he feels it’s happened twice now and actually on the birth of our second child what was supposed to be a joyful occasion ended in tears.

So if anyone has gone through this, please any ideas would be useful, I was thinking of a token gift (possibly from their siblings but not sure). Just wondering whether to go with head or heart...

Head is a small token gift
Heart is a sum of money

ratbagcatbag Tue 03-Dec-13 12:34:44

At 22, behaving like that, bugger all, sorry, I could understand if a 15 year old found it difficult but at 22 to behave like that with no apology is unnacceptable. If you need to do something it would be a small token gift but I honestly wouldn't.

HamletsSister Tue 03-Dec-13 12:36:40

I think the gift is the best idea. I have horrible sisters (really, really horrible) and I always send something. It means that I have the moral high ground - I am behaving appropriately when they are not. I also (evil witch) know that, in one case, it really pisses her off that I send something lovely and she forgets / doesn't bother / doesn't think we are worth it. I also think it is a way of rising above the situation and showing that you are adults. I would actually get something really nice, something that SC would ensure that they know they are loved. Their behaviour is not ideal but you have to be the adults.

I would buy them something lovely from the 2 of you and something smaller (but also lovely) from your DC.

tony61 Tue 03-Dec-13 12:45:28

Thank you ratbag and hamlet I thought I was going to be struck down! I still might...also just reassures me husband and I were ok to query it aswell.

Eliza22 Fri 06-Dec-13 08:50:16

I would send a card. That's all. This 22yr old is behaving like a little girl. A very "naughty" little girl.

In a roundabout way, I am in your position. My DH apparently abandoned his 20 yr old. Not true. He's spend 2 and a half years trying to persuade her he still loves her/she doesn't need to feel abandoned because dad has remarried a woman with a young son.

A card. That is all I'd send. When she wants dad in her life, let her make the move to "come home".

Petal02 Fri 06-Dec-13 08:58:08

Send a card, but nothing more. They're both old enough to be held accountable for their own actions.

catsmother Fri 06-Dec-13 09:21:19

I'd send a charity gift ..... that way you can't be accused of not sending anything, and you'd have to be very hard hearted to whinge and moan you'd received nothing when a genuinely impoverished family in the 3rd world were getting real benefit. However, the "point" of not getting what you want when you behave appallingly would still have been made - but in a "good" way IYSWIM. Such a gift might just give this young woman food for thought.

Agree that at 22 that sort of attitude is pretty unforgivable. I accept that there may well still be pangs of jealousy if you didn't spend the majority of your childhood with your dad - new arrivals might well stir those feelings up ..... but at that age, whilst you're entitled to feel sad, you are also old enough to appreciate that adult relationships do break down unfortunately and you therefore keep your feelings to yourself. It might well be acceptable to seek a bit of reassurance in a semi jokey manner as in "you're not going to forget about us now are you dad ha ha" but to come at it hammer and tongs with all the unfair insults really is going too far at that age.

Eliza22 Fri 06-Dec-13 10:40:38

Cats great idea with the charity gift.

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 11:31:55

I very much disagree. I presume you do want the relationship.

Kids kick off when they feel insecure, even adult ones.

Behave differently and that will fuel the insecurity. Your perspective on the new baby may well be different to hers. You are essentially punishing her for not responding in the way YOU hoped she would. Give her time she will most likely feel different.

TBH I think the Charity gift is teasing. You are punishing her for not having the ability at that difficult moment in time to respond the way you would have liked as opposed to being there for her to work through it.

You've done the right thing by saying we're here for you when you want to make contact. I would keep trying not often and doesn't need to be verbal, just that text message reminding her you are still there and ready for her when she wants to come back and see you all.

Buy what you would have done if she hadn't kicked off. But keep it wrapped ready at yours. same at birthday etc for however long it takes.

Basically what you are doing is physically showing her she is wrong. You are there for her, you do care.

Treat her differently now and you are giving her every excuse to feel the way she does.

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 11:43:21

I will say though I am not a step mum but a lone mum. I frequent the step parenting boards to see the other side and help get some perspective.

But this is the type of thing my Ex would feel was ok. It isn't. Rarely do we react as well as we would like when something new is sprung on us. I end up sitting there dealing with DD's reaction and having to explain the response too.

In the example of the OP I would be having to explain they still love them just the same despite having a new baby in the face of "well but no they haven't even got me a Christmas present." Nightmare scenario and equally applicable to a young adult as to a child

AliceinWonderhell Fri 06-Dec-13 12:05:35

paper At what age do you think that DSC are no longer entitled to special treatment?
Is it ever OK for a stepparent to expect their DSC to treat them with the respect shown to other adults or do they always have to make allowances because the DSC is not dealing well with a situation?

My DD is expected to behave towards her stepparents (and stepsibs) with respect and manners. If she doesn't, there are consequences.

Why should an adult DSC have allowances made when they treat their stepparent with less respect than a stranger?

HamletsSister Fri 06-Dec-13 12:20:48

I think this is a very, very complex situation. Divorce and broken relationships affect people very deeply (I speak as the daughter of divorced parents - my father married 3 times). I have two half siblings who we only met in our late teens (they were from marriage 1) and I deeply resented everything my father gave them. Yes, he was making up for lost years. Yes, they too deserved a father. However, I still really resented them for stealing him away from me. Take normal sibling rivalry and then multiply it for siblings from half / step families. I think you still have to be the "adults" here and show her that you love her unconditionally, even though she has behaved badly. When your own children behave badly, as they often will (unless you are super human wonder Mum) you forgive and still buy them presents / give them hugs etc.
She wants to be rejected. She is asking to be rejected which will then validate all her feelings. If you refuse to reject her and continue to behave with love, kindness and by keeping her in your family, you will, in the long run, make things easier.

AliceinWonderhell Fri 06-Dec-13 12:38:57

I think you still have to be the "adults" here and show her that you love her unconditionally, even though she has behaved badly.

Loving a stepchild unconditionally is far to be an expectation of any stepparent.

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 12:50:20

What makes you think that's special treatment? confused that's parenting and being there for your child

As a parent you guide, chastise, punish (if a child) but continue to love. That's how a child knows you are there for them.

AliceinWonderhell Fri 06-Dec-13 13:21:01

paper But its not the responsibility of the stepparent to parent.

A stepparent is in no way being unreasonable to expect the same manners and respect from their adult DSC that the 'child' shows other adults. Why shouldn't the stepparent exclude rude/disrespectful adults from their life, regardless of their relationship to their DP?

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 13:24:58

HamletsSister has hit the nail on the head.

This is a massive life moment for the OPs DSD, she is going to have lots of feelings about it and no one seems to have acknowledged that. That isn't being there for someone, which kinda justifies what she's saying tbh

Think of all the occasions when you as a grown up may have overreacted or expressed yourself badly.

There's ways of enforcing boundaries without rejecting a child whether grown up or not.

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 13:35:52

In the OP the DSD didn't say it to their step parent they said it to their DAD. The response was coming from the stepparent AND Dad as a family unit therefore I would expect the response to follow that of a parent.

As an adult you have the right to not allow an adult you don't like into your life. A parent has a life long responsibility to a child (adult or not) a stepparent doesn't. Which is where the difficulty lies.

If you don't like a stepchild that's ok, how you absent yourself from that relationship without interfering with the parent child relationship is a measure of you as an person. You absent yourself DSC has justification to say you were never there for me.

Do so in such a way that it interfers with the parent child relationship, and the parent allows that to happen. Child has every right to say the parent was you were a shit parent, never there for them and put the second family first.

AliceinWonderhell Fri 06-Dec-13 13:37:49

This is a massive life moment for the OPs DSD, she is going to have lots of feelings about it and no one seems to have acknowledged that

Um - what is? The birth of her second half sibling? Given how she reacted badly to her feelings after the birth of the OPs first child, surely there is some responsibility on her to deal with those feelings in a more appropriate way this time?
It's not like it was unexpected - if the DSD was struggling with her emotions, she has plenty of time during the OPs pregnancy to find support to deal with them to avoid a repeat of her behaviour after her first half-sibling was born?

At some point, DCs become autonomous, making decisions for themselves not relying on their parents to support them.

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 13:47:55

"there is some responsibility on her to deal with those feelings in a more appropriate way this time?"

Perhaps there is some responsibility on the parent to... umm... parent and help her talk through her feelings both then and now? or to recognise if she was upset last time there might be some fall out this time and prepare for it better.

That's nothing to do with reliance, it's the kind of support I expect and offer to any grownup I care about, even just friends. the best friends are the ones who anticipate something may upset you and show you they are there even if you are the only one who can sort out your own head yourself

Tuckshop Fri 06-Dec-13 14:55:12

I am a stepmum and agree with paper lanterns first post. It's spot on.

Go with your heart.

Tuckshop Fri 06-Dec-13 15:04:15

And loving dsd unconditionally was absolutely what I did. Even when she was vile to me, told her mum I hit her, refused to come to stay as I was there.

That was never about me. And as much as it hurt me and she was difficult to be around she still got invited to family events, holidays and got gifts just as she would always have done.

In total agreement with you paper lantern.

JennyWren Fri 06-Dec-13 15:07:28

How about a gift that includes her Dad's time - such as two tickets (one for each of them) to see a show or an exhibition that she will like - with a date in a few weeks or months, when she's had time to calm down a bit. Lunch thrown in. Time for the two of them to just be together.

It sounds as though she is feeling pushed out and isn't expressing it well - she may be aged 22 chronologically, but emotionally she's reverting to childhood on this one. That doesn't mean to say that when she has got her head around it she won't be back to the way she was last week - and it does sound as though outside of the newborn sibling period she and you two have a good relationship.

Maybe she'll apologise when she has the maturity. Maybe when she has children herself and discovers how a parent's capacity for love really is elastic and not finite, to be shared out in ever smaller chunks with each child's arrival. How many posts do we see from parents who are having wobbles about having a second/third/fourth child because of their worries about the negative effects on their PFB? And we parents are probably considerably older/more mature than your DSD...

paperlantern Fri 06-Dec-13 15:48:05

I would worry about something that has a time frame, you want her to come back when she is ready to be a part of your family again.

ideally you want something small, thoughtful and deeply personal to your dsd. deeply personal to both would better.

But it needs to still be there when she is ready

tony61 Fri 06-Dec-13 16:51:15

Just an update, I have bought a small token gift which will come from all of us (still not clear on this, or just the siblings)...I think its the right thing to do...

I have so say I'm struggling with forgiving their behaviour for a second time. My husband will.

Sorry off on a slight tangent I just find it hard to be ok with someone that hates or resents their siblings. I do feel its slightly different if you haven't grown up together. I have a sister I hated her at times growing up but I love her dearly but we would always fight and then talk, if your that much older and don't live with the sibling how do you do that. I remember last time being relieved that they wanted to see our first child but I had real reservations about it and felt uncomfortable for a while but our oldest loves their older sibling and gets really excited when we say there coming to see us...

I just wanted to add sc is living in their own place with partner.

Thank you for all the feedback, will certainly think about it all...

noseymcposey Fri 06-Dec-13 16:58:41

I think you absolutely defintely need to send a gift!

You will make the situation worse if you don't especially as however badly your partners child has behaved it is from a sense of being pushed out. I cannot see hat it would help to make them feel even more excluded.

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