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Is this being ungrateful or do I have a point?

(35 Posts)
1978andallthat Thu 27-Dec-12 22:23:03

Not putting in aibu as don't like the flaming there. But would love some gentle opinions.

My parents go over the top. Not just at Christmas, all the time. They are very. very generous and we appreciate it - but there is never anything they don't buy. Dd's bday just been and Christmas and they got her so much I feel it diminishes what we get her but also spoils her. Given they are also always saying how much stuff we have for the small size of our house it also doesn't help with that.

But it's not just big stuff. For example, I got dd one of those magic flannels that expand in the bath. Cheap as chips and a great stocking filler. Except they got her two for her stocking. Sure, nothing wrong with having three flannels but I wanted to be able to get her something fun she'd think of as from mummy and daddy.

Or on Christmas morning it was as if our pile of presents all of which I'd thought about lots and which wasn't a small pile but also hadn't cost too much, was just eclipsed by sheer volume when we got to their house. This is all after a conversation about please not getting her too much or things that take too much room.

I know this all sounds ungrateful. It's not meant to. But I want, as dd's mummy, to be able to get her things sometimes that are not then repeated by my parents. Eg we went to the Olympics this summer and I spent ages in the shop looking for an affordable and long term souvenir for her and found a great £10 bus and taxi in a tin with Olympic logo set. Got home and my mum, who had been on another day, had got her the same tin and an Olympic jacket and another Olympic souvenir for Christmas. Well now it's as if the special Olympic souvenir from mummy and daddy is meaningless.

Am I being awful and ungrateful? Would it be reasonable to bring this up with my parents? I think it would upset them but dd is only 2 and I don't want this to carry on for years and years.

BiddyPop Tue 08-Jan-13 17:13:44

We're working on that. We are also working on - shock, horror - re-writing the "rules" on OUR KK and stocking exchange. We started it, Mum took over the "management", and is now taking all the credit for it with wider family who have started something similar in straightened times. And as she lost the stockings this year (I sewed 9 about 3 years ago for everyone, and have to make another 1 for next year anyway) - she no longer has any right to be involved as far as we are concerned!! grin (If I didn't laugh, I'd cry!).

nailak Tue 08-Jan-13 16:49:32

cant you tell your siblings it doesnt have to be christmas for them to give gifts?

BiddyPop Tue 08-Jan-13 16:37:43

I know (and sorry for thread hijack). We're trying, but as the siblings are spread geographically (only 1 lives at home, another close, us 3 hours away and the other 3 overseas), and DH and I are the only ones who own a home, it's tricky to organise anything OFF their home turf.

But there is more awareness and the siblings are actually talking to each other independently of her nowadays, so there is more organising being done away from her earshot and for things that we want to do.

(And I am far enough away that she can't yell at me physically, and I have learned to put down the phone or physically walk away if necessary, which seems to be giving the others some courage too grin).

DontmindifIdo Tue 08-Jan-13 16:30:23

You need to all stand up to her, more likely, start just doing what you want and informing her, not discussing arrangments with her. So you and siblings decide what you are doing for gifts and make arrangements for meetng up where she doesn't control them,so she's a guest, not a host.

You don't have to have a big stand off, or even discuss a lot in advance, deliver things as done deals, she can accept invites or decline them but you get your invite to her in advance of any chance for her to do it. (ideally with acceptances/declines from your siblings before she's had chance to discuss with them), then it's up to her what she wants to do, but you wont let her change plans.

You can sell this to her as "oh, you're the gran now, it's not fair of us to dump all the work on you as host, so you dno't have to worry anymore."

BiddyPop Tue 08-Jan-13 16:15:04

Don't mind - don't even get me started on her. I have started to stand up for myself, and the others are slowly making small steps, but she IS very controlling and domineering - and likely to go off into her room to "rest" (i.e. sulk and watch tv) if her wishes are not being followed and she is not being seen as the Queen Bee in the centre of it all!!

My 37 year old DSis had intended driving to our city (they live 160 miles away) on the Sunday beforehand to visit our Gran (lives in our city) and had offered us (DH, DD and I) a lift so we could both have a glass of wine with lunch and relax. But at 7pm the night before (and she was only told on the Thursday about the event), Mum rang her to say that another Sis had dropped out (knowing she wouldn't be back in time for the carol concert her choir were doing) so there were now only my 6'4" Bro and 6'1" Bro in the back seat of the car for the trip - so she should come with them. Dinner was in 90 mins and she should arrive by then. DSis was still in the house she shares with other renters, no packing for Christmas done (she'd end up not back in her own house), presents to wrap or at least gather together, and travel the 45 mins to my parents house - she got a phonecall 87 mins later to ask "where was she, dinner was being served?" - this in a house where NOTHING ever happens when it is scheduled to (Christmas dinner, timed for 6pm, was served at 8.45!). But she went and had to ring me Sunday morn to say she wouldn't be able to bring us after all (no prob, we're used to 1 driving).

So standing up to her is more difficult and a lot more drama than it's worth, unless it's an orchestrated campaign with all of us on board.

I have a feeling though, from a range of discussions over Christmas THIS year, that a lot of things will be different NEXT year!!

DontmindifIdo Tue 08-Jan-13 15:50:40

BiddyPop - why do you and your siblings go along with this???? Assuming they are all adults, why can't they just talk to you and you say "actualy, rather than getting a joint gift with mum this year, could you get DD X?" (something not too expensive) and then just inform your mum that your siblings are "doing their own thing this year" or she can put their names on the cards if she wants, even if they get something else.

sounds very controlling of your mother and you all act like it's her choice to make...

girlywhirly Tue 08-Jan-13 15:17:23

I don't think it's ungrateful, it can be overwhelming for the DC as well. With people who still don't heed your wishes after you've asked them nicely not to go mad with gifts, you could use them to your advantage. I would have a sneaky peek at the gifts in advance if possible and see what you can hold back if you can be sure the DGP's won't remember half of the things they bought, you could put them away for another child's birthday gift or as a treat gift for your own during the year. With clothes, if there are any you can't stand, either send the DC out to play in them or to playgroup/nursery. They are only going to get covered in mud/paint/food/wee/poo etc. You can keep saying that things are still too big, then they are not right for the season, then they are now too small because of a growth spurt, etc as reasons for why they are never seen wearing the items.

Or sell new toys and clothes on Ebay to fund things you do want/like.

BiddyPop Tue 08-Jan-13 10:56:51

We had the opposite situation - there was nothing from my side of the family under the tree on Xmas Day (despite us seeing them in advance) - in fact, by mistake, they had taken things that aunts had given us at my Gran's house the Sunday before with them to their house, so we only got those on 29th.

My mother feels that DD is "spolit rotten" as her birthday is on 26th, and on her 2nd birthday we were in their house so all my and DH's siblings were there and giving both birthday and Christmas presents so my mum was basically jealous about it all (and that, despite her being the hostess, it was all about DD that day - well it WAS her birthday!!). Not that she got tonnes of useless or expensive stuff, just that most people gave her something for each and there are a lot of siblings.

So now, based on that 1 year that Mum saw, my mum insists on something small for Christmas, and SHE buys a shared gift on behalf of my parents and siblings, with 1 sibling allowed to buy additionally as she's godmother. And having asked what DD wanted, and me telling her very specifically (a particular type of cycling helmet good for safety but also kinda cool that DD would love), she went off and got one less than half that price as it had a similar picture on the side but was specifically NOT to be used for cycling!!! (DD got a bike from Santa and her old helmet was falling apart).

We would have gotten her the other one ourselves!!

My siblings have all said they'd like to give her something from themselves - but are afraid to go against Mum. And we'd be happy too - they usually think of practical things like clothes or books (she's growing - again - and as much of a book-hound as I was, which really helps her settle to sleep, just like me!!).

dizzydixies Fri 28-Dec-12 19:42:15

smile4me - by the time I reached DD3 I didn't care what was practical! Send her out in the pink frilly dress and wellies. Let her roll about in the mud in it. Send the photos over to your parents grin

smile4me Fri 28-Dec-12 19:35:21

Oh yes can totally sympathise... my parents are the same except luckily they live in another country. Still doesn't stop DM sending over heaps of things. Totally dwarfs what we buy for DD! And to make it even worse she sends over expensive clothes, mainly pink dresses and very girly things that I can't stand and feel obliged to put them on DD just because she sent them over and they were expensive. We live on a farm and DD is outside a lot so really totally not practical!
TBH they were totally the same with us when we were kids, which was fantastic when we were little, but I just found it embarassing and hated as I got older, although my sister is now extremely materialistic because of it! No joke if I don't send her something expensive enough for birthday/christmas etc she throws a hissy!Really don't want DD to be like that.

1978andallthat Fri 28-Dec-12 19:27:22


Yes that's why I worry about appearing ungrateful. I know we are very lucky.


DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 19:19:06

Jess - the issue I have is my parents have basically bought an entire wardrobe of aged 3-4 stuff for DS already because I said he had enough 2-3 stuff to keep him going, he's just turned 3 and hasn't grown out of his 2-3 things. (Which includes some t-shirts and shorts we just never got round to putting him in, because they went crazy over the summer and turned up with tonnes of stuff). They are most put out that I've told them to stop buying clothes, they said I should 'find room' - well buy me a bigger house and I'll have more room.

It's getting to the stage I'd have to throw out clothes that he still fits into and are perfectly fine just to make space for the new ones. It's obsence, and annoying that we and MIL don't get to get him anything. I have to dress him in their choices of clothes.

Well, except I don't, I've now stopped caring if it's ungrateful - when it comes to clothes, I return everything I can and buy my choices.

Toys, however, are a different matter, I can't seem to get them to show any restraint.

dizzydixies Fri 28-Dec-12 19:03:33

JessBrodysTits - I agree grin My lot are absent AND hopeless. My Dad just doesn't 'do' presents and the inlaws turn up, buy a token set of pyjamas and disappear for another 12 months <sigh> The DCs will soon learn.

bamboostalks Fri 28-Dec-12 12:27:06

Do you remember what your parents bought for you? Probably not, so do not worry about it at all. They will remember time spent playing games together. Etc use it to your advantage.

JessBrodysTits Fri 28-Dec-12 12:21:12

Gosh you lucky buggers.

I would love some help towards kitting out three children with all they desire/need/want.


SHoHoHodan Fri 28-Dec-12 09:58:55

We had to have this conversation with PIL. Trouble is, ds2 is their only grandchild and always will be so it's hard. MIL was trying to get ds2 some stickers three days before Xmas- not much I know but it's like she can't help herself.

However DH was quite firm with them (as am I, actually) and they now contribute to savings account or add to Premium Bonds for him, which is great (although he's going to be a very well off young man at this rate grin ).

EverybodySnowyEyed is right though- kids remember the fun experiences, not the fifteenth present in the pile of thirty. (From all the presents that ds1 got when he was younger, he remembers one- a cheap radio/cassette player I got him. That was his 'best Christmas present ever'). Do the days out with dd- that's what she'll remember most.

DontmindifIdo Fri 28-Dec-12 09:53:05

Watching for ideas- my parents have gone totally OTT compared to PILs, they don't see DS that often (they don't live close and spend months at a time at their holiday home) but they have never come here empty handed. From October onwards I asked them not to bring gifts for DS to try to keep christmas special, so they bought books on their next 3 visits as they aren't toys...

The sheer volume of stuff they gave was silly and totally eclipsed what DH and I and PIL bought. It looks like they are trying to 'buy' DS's affections.

I've tried saying something yesterday, saying how I was going to have to throw out some toys as we didn't have space for everything. They told me to "oh, just put some away and bring out thorugh the year" when I said I had nowhere to put htem away too, they said that I just need to sort out my storage.

Any ideas how to tackle? (They already give me money to put in his savings account)

spababe Fri 28-Dec-12 09:46:40

Sounds like the presents may be linked to love ie your parents are trying to show your DC how much they love her. If you ask them to stop then it might feel to them even subconsciously that they must not show the love. my solution would be to make it NON PERSONAL by saying the house is small and I'm trying to manage the clutter etc so it would really help if present wise you could buy National Trust or premium bonds etc (whatever you think) or clothes maybe? and perhaps something to mark the milestones eg first pair of school shoes when she starts school.
Maybe next Christmas they could take DD on an outing eg to see santa (she can go twice) and a Christmas tea out as part of her present?

ggirl Fri 28-Dec-12 09:26:07

yy ask them to save for her
my dd got a lump sum on her 18th which she used to go travelling with...very much appreciated!

Mockingcurl Fri 28-Dec-12 09:09:49

My DC have 3 sets of grandparents due to divorce and re marriage. When it came to birthdays and Xmas they all used to compete with each other over the size, value and quantity of presents. It got to be a real problem. We talked to them about it and agreed that they would each buy one present of £20, they would then put whatever they liked into a savings account for each of my boys.
My boys are all now if university age and have a decent lump sum to help with fees etc. it was the best thing we ever did and made the GPs feel like they were being very helpful.

Chottie Fri 28-Dec-12 08:47:37

I love the idea of family Nat Trust or English Heritage passes.

Whistlingwaves Fri 28-Dec-12 08:45:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

havingastress Fri 28-Dec-12 08:43:07

YANBU. My inlaws are exactly like this.

What's wrong with people remembering it's quality not quantity?! if you're guilty of doing this yourself please take heed!!!

FivesGoldNorks Fri 28-Dec-12 08:37:21

Yanbu op. My parents used to buy the dc a present every week. When I eventually voiced my concerns they replaced it with pocket moneey instead which was great, but then the presents started creeping in again, as well as the money. My dc are spoilt and we have no room for all the stuff. We had a lovely Christmas with them and this will sound really ungrateful but I almost cried when we emptied the car at this end of all the stuff they'd bought.

exoticfruits Fri 28-Dec-12 08:30:08

I don't think that you are ungrateful- I would be upset if people spoilt my DCs like that. I would sit them down when you are all calm and explain. Suggest that you start a savings scheme and that they put money in there and just buy one present for birthdays and Christmas. Explain that you want your DC to be keen to spend time with grandparents and not keen to see them to see what they have brought!

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