AIBU to want her to stop buying presents(8 Posts)
Fairly newish friend I've known for a couple of years, our kids are in the same school year. We've really hit it off, get together on playdates even though kids are old enough now to not need parent with them. She's been having major marital difficulties and I've spent a lot of time on the phone offering a sympathetic ear.
She's started buying presents for my kids. The two that are the same age get invited to each others parties so obviously we exchange presents then. She's now started buying for my younger one too. Not just birthdays, she's already told me she's got them Christmas presents. On top of this she's started showing up with things at random times, just second hand stuff from charity shops or cheap things from ASDA (I'm not remotely snobby about second hand or cheap presents btw, just making the point that I don't think she's spending lots of money). It seems she sees something that she thinks would be perfect for one of them so buys it, then hunts around until she can find something for the other one so that it's fair.
I appreciate it's very kindly meant. I'm not really sure of her motives, she might be trying to show her appreciation of emotional support I've been giving. Also, I did once mention I missed being able to go round charity shops, I'm disabled and my mobility scooter just won't fit in them so maybe she's trying to help. Also, I think she rather likes buying very "girly" stuff, but only has boys of her own.
The trouble is I'm feeling increasingly awkward about the whole thing and want her to stop doing it. Obviously I've now got to buy her kids Christmas presents and I really hate getting into that sort of thing, I've got enough family to try to find the right presents for. Also I know she's having money problems, which seems to be rather adding to the marital problems. We, by comparison, are fairly well off so it's embarrassing to be accepting stuff from her all the time.
She's a truely lovely person, I really like having her in my life, but the present buying is completely unnecessary and making me feel uncomfortable.
Am I being a massively ungrateful cow?
I don't think you're ungrateful. You feel obliged and that is akward. Fwiw I love to give gifts (no reciprocation wanted or needed in fact I get embarrassed!!). Maybe check she's like that? Talk about how great it is (the fuss over your children, so thoughtful) that it's new to you etc. Open up a chat about it.
I have a friend who is like this - generous to a fault. In her case, it stems from an impoverished childhood and a warped idea of how to demonstrate love and affection. I have pleaded with her until I am blue in the face that time spent with loved ones is a million times more special than material possessions but she doesn't get it. She nods and says all the right things but will end up spending a fortune on people she barely knows. It makes me feel sick and she is constantly in debt. She is a lovely person and I love her very much but I want to shake her. Some people have serious ishooooos when it comes to spending money - is she spendy generally? It could be that shopping for stuff makes her feel better, in which case, her problems are bigger than just buying stuff for your children and she might need help with that.
I would suggest talking to her and being honest about it making you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps suggest that if she wants to reciprocate the support you have given her she can do it in other, non monetary ways.... taking your kids to the park/library and giving you fifteen mins to have a cuppa and peace. But be prepared for her ultimately reverting to the pressie buying thing. And try not to get too annoyed/upset. Ultimately, it sounds as though she is a good person and I reckon you can never have too many of them in your life.
I think she probably does do it for a lot of other people from what I can gather. I'm not sure that she's very spendy otherwise. She also does take the older kid off my hands a bit, little one is too clingy for mummy at the moment. The thing is I'm perfectly happy to lend a sympathetic ear whenever she needs it, there's no need for her to reciprocate. She really is very nice and I'm grateful to have her as a friend. I don't know how I could possibly say anything, she's really rather fragile at the moment and I really don't want to risk doing anything that might upset her. Do I just accept I'm buying her kids birthday and Christmas presents from now on? I feel so mean for not wanting to.
As she's already bought pressies this year I imagine you will feel obliged to do the same but only this year. Next year - get in early and suggest a joint outing instead of pressies. Panto or something?
Could you say something like you're trying to teach your DC to value activities/ people/ experiences more than things? So maybe don't talk about her specifically - say 'people' keep buying them things and while it's lovely and generous you don't want them to get spoiled and expect it - so would she mind if she happens to see something she thinks they'd like just to sit on it for now? You could frame it as especially with Christmas coming up you want them to appreciate the presents they'll be getting then...?
<disclaimer> I have tried this with my DM and it didn't work, as apparently she's not 'people', she's Granny . And if I stop her giving DS presents she buys him vast quantities of chocolate instead...
But your friend might be more amenable to being included with other human beings?
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