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to be less than impressed with SIL letting her DC open presents from us as soon as they arrive?

(71 Posts)
Tenebrist Mon 24-Oct-11 15:36:12

Bit of background: we live in a different country to BIL (DH's brother) and his wife. They have three DC aged from 5 to 9 who are our DC's only first cousins. DH has a longstanding arrangement with his DB that we will exchange presents for the kids at birthdays and Xmas, but nothing for adults - suits us all fine.

We have to post the packages and we try to post them in plenty of time so they don't arrive too late. It's become clear to us recently that SIL has been letting the kids open their presents as soon as they arrive, well before their actual birthday or Christmas. DH mentioned this to his DB a few months ago and BIL seemed pretty embarrassed and said it was SIL's decision to let them do it.

Now it's clearly up to them what parenting decisions they make generally, and they certainly do a lot of things very differently to us. I imagine they (or at least she) disapprove of certain things we do as well! But letting them open the presents immediately seems to be rather disrepectful of the effort we have gone to in choosing and sending them. We were both brought up with the idea that children should learn to wait for certain treats or privileges rather than thinking they can rip open a present the moment it arrives. We're certainly not fuming about it - it's a relatively small matter in absolute terms, but it leaves us with the feeling of 'why should we bother with nice Xmas prezzies?'.

So, would/do you let your DC open presents immediately if they are meant for another purpose, or would you feel that the present you've sent is being dissed if the recipient doesn't wait.

In the interest of full disclosure: there's always been a bit of tension between SIL and DH/myself in the 15 years since we've known her. We've tried to keep it under wraps for the sake of the children, but I'm not sure here if our feelings about the presents are connected to the dislike we already have for her, or if it's genuinely disrespectful behaviour on her part to open presents straight away.

BlameItOnTheBogey Mon 24-Oct-11 15:39:25

I genuinely don't see the problem. Sorry.

PopcornMouse Mon 24-Oct-11 15:39:30

YABU - her kids, her parenting decisions. If it bothers you, post them later so they arrive later.

OliviaTwist Mon 24-Oct-11 15:40:12

'to open the presents immediately seems to be rather disrepectful of the effort we have gone to in choosing and sending them'

Why?? I alawys open things when they arrive, and will let the DCs do the same. I am completely flummoxed that anyone would interpret this as disrespectful.

But then I don't get a lot of things, so will await MN concensus to see if IABU!

PeelThemWithTheirMetalKnives Mon 24-Oct-11 15:41:28

YABU. Post them later and put "Not to be opened until ... " stickers on them if it bothers you. But you can't control what people do with a gift, because it's, erm, a gift grin

slavetofilofax Mon 24-Oct-11 15:42:45


GooseyLoosey Mon 24-Oct-11 15:42:56

I don't think it's disrespectful as such, but if a present was sent for christmas, the Dcs would have to wait until then to open it . There is absolutely nothing you can do about it though.

DuelingFanjo Mon 24-Oct-11 15:43:19

isn't life too short to give a toss? Just move on, don't let it bother you and carry on being a lovely aunt to your nieces and nephews.

Nixea Mon 24-Oct-11 15:44:35

Really can't see how this is a problem. Surely it doesn't matter when the gift is opened as long as the recipient appreciates it?

As for 'why should we bother with nice Xmas prezzies?', well it does seem like a huge overreaction on your part but as you pointed out, there are more issues than just this one between you.

edwardcullensotherwerewolf Mon 24-Oct-11 15:44:51

What makes you thin they appreciate the things you buy any less, just because they didn't open them at the "designated" time? That's how your post comes across.
I disagree totally that it's "disrespectful of the effort you've gone to".

Maybe she's worried that they'll get lost/forgotten about if she puts them away, so it's better that the DCs just open and get the use out of them straight away?

If you don't like it, send the presents later so they don't arrive so early.

bigmouthstrikesagain Mon 24-Oct-11 15:45:40

If you choose to be offended then that it is up to you, but in the grand scheme of things it seems a total waste of outrage to me.

If they choose to open presents in a different country when they arrive it could be considered an indication of how welcome and exciting (and tempting!) a parcel is - a compliment not a slight.

When people bring gifts for my children slightly early (for the occasion) I am always unsure how to handle it as - it seems it would be nice for the giver if the presents are opened in their presence - so they can 'see the joy on the childrens faces' as it were and can be thanked.

But if we have to wait til precisely the right time to open gifts in order to be polite and respectful then maybe I am the mannerless oik. Hey ho.

thefirstMrsDeVeerie Mon 24-Oct-11 15:46:45

I dont understand.

KurriKurri Mon 24-Oct-11 15:46:53

Is this a reverse AIBU?

if not, then you will save yourself an awful lot of angst if you stop caring when people open their presents,

if it is, then yes your SIL sounds bonkers and controlling.

Splinters Mon 24-Oct-11 15:47:02

mmm don't really get this one. Or do they open Christmas presents in November and then complain that you haven't sent anything for Christmas? Or never thank you? Please explain.

I don't see why it makes you wonder why you bother buying nice presents for Christmas if they are going to be opened earlier. I'm sure the children still realise it's a present for Christmas or their birthday even if they do open it earlier.

I don't think it's disrespectful to your efforts to allow them to open them early.

I think you are using this as another reason to dislike SIL and your BIL is just as responsible as SIL for allowing the children to open the gifts early.

And I speak as someone who does save LO's gifts to be opened on the day, unless the relatives are there earlier and have said they would like to see him open them.

Bugsy2 Mon 24-Oct-11 15:47:47

I can't believe that anyone would even think about this. A gift is something you choose to give. Once it is handed over, it is no longer yours. It is the recipients. I just don't understand why it matters when exactly a gift is opened.

ggirl Mon 24-Oct-11 15:48:31

why is it disrespectful to open your gift
it shows they're excited and appreciate the gift

you are letting your feelings about her affect your judgement

GreyTS Mon 24-Oct-11 15:48:33

Not sure why the children would be any more appreciative or grateful if they waited to open the presents on the "correct" day and definitely don't get what you find so disrespectful. So yes YABU and a bit odd.

Clayhead Mon 24-Oct-11 15:49:31

I often encourage my dc to open things early - I think they enjoy something more if it's the only thing they open that day/week - rather than one of many.

And if I've understood your tone I don't think that opening birthday or Christmas presents falls under the "treats and privileges to be earned" category either.

If someone sends you a present you shouldn't then have to earn the right to open it.

littletreesmum Mon 24-Oct-11 15:50:50

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Tenebrist Mon 24-Oct-11 15:51:27

OK fine, it's probably more to do with the underlying issues and tensions then. Just wanted to know - we've been out of an English-speaking country for a long time and opening a present early where we live is just not seen as acceptable. It's obviously a cultural difference.

She is a pretty dislikeable person though...

MonstrouslyNarkyPuffin Mon 24-Oct-11 15:54:42

It is odd. If you're posting them well in advance I'm guessing that you're talking about them eg opening Christmas presents on December 3rd.

It would also be odd to say ''why should we bother with nice Xmas prezzies?' They're still Christmas presents even if they're opened very early. and it's not the children's fault.

It obviously bothers you, so just send them later. I suspect it's something you'd just think was odd but not such a 'thing' if it wasn't for the 15 years of history with her.

Ephiny Mon 24-Oct-11 15:56:38

I don't see the problem really, or why it upsets you so much. If you like to make your children wait until the 'correct' day then that's fine, but you really can't police that in other people's households. I certainly don't think it's 'disrespectful behaviour' at all.

I find it odd that you're thinking 'why should we bother' sending nice presents, just because they don't get opened on a particular date confused. I suspect your resentment is more to do with your problems with SIL that you hint at in your OP.

fuzzynavel Mon 24-Oct-11 15:59:15

I don't save them either. I let my DC open them when they arrive. But that's just me.

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