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AIBU to think she is a sucker for continually buying gifts for ingrates? (long, sorry)

(20 Posts)
LeaLeander Thu 25-Feb-16 15:03:11

Apologies in advance for the long backstory.

My sister has been married for about 10 years to a man with four kids in their 30s. In recent years the kids have all married and begun having their own kids. Three of the four are nice and sis is very fond of them and their spouses even though she is only 10-15 years older than they she tries to make sure all holidays / festive occasions are nice etc. (Her husband is a pleasant man but retired and sort of off in his own world of hobbies, writing etc. and is more the type to write a check at gift-giving occasions than to shop for presents. They all love one another but they just aren't into gift-giving like our family of origin was. And he is fond of his little grandkids but doesn't find them that interesting at the baby/toddler stage.)

So - three of the couples are great but the fourth is, by everyone's admission, a pair of obnoxious users. Snarky, self-centered money-grubbers. They secretly got married when she became pregnant but lied and made everyone trot across the USA after the kid was born, for a big destination white wedding at a lavish resort because they wanted the gifts. They pressured my BIL to pay for the rehearsal dinner and ordered the finest buffet - it was $5,000 for about 40 people.

Whenever they visit they take BIL's credit card and stock up on things, and he is poised to visit them in a few weeks for 10 days - and my sister knows it will be "hey, let's all go to IKEA..let's all go to Costco.." etc. and he will be put on the spot to treat them to thousands of dollars in goods. But she and he keep separate finances so she just tapes her mouth shut and vents to me on the side for the sake of peace in her marriage.

Oh, and this same son "purchased" her used vehicle from her 8 years ago and then refused to pay. It was money she could ill afford to lose, about $6,000, because she had planned to use it for the down payment on a new car. She had to raid her savings to do so and finally last year her husband made good the debt. Son was very snotty and snarky to my sister all those years and flaunted the fact of their lavish vacations and such even as he said he had no cash to pay her. I phoned once when they were visiting and ID'd myself to him as her sister (he happened to pick up the phone) and he gave such a snarling, contemptuous response that she said four or five people looked across the room at him in shock.

His bride is just as bad and seems to think (erroneously) that she married into wealth because of my BIL's former occupation. (Some people in that line of work do make a lot of $$ but he never did.) Starting with her baby shower, to which my sister traveled 250 miles and made up a large, lavish basket of gifts, she has never thanked sis or BIL for a single thing but expects the finest. Two kids later, my sister is fed up with shopping for gifts for them and their kids, who are 1 and 3. She spends a fair amount of money, wraps nicely, does thoughtful things for the little girls and never once has received a verbal or written thanks. This past Christmas the bride actually had the nerve to "place an order" for specific costly toys "the kids want." They never send gifts to my sister or BIL, btw. It's a one-way street. These people are in their mid-30s.

So, kids birthdays are coming up and my sister was again venting and I said "Why don't you just not do it?" "Because if I don't do it, Jim won't do it, and the kids won't get anything from their grandfather, and I'd be the bitch who didn't get them anything." (Note, Jim wouldn't care one way or the other; he'd probably put a $20 bill in a card and call it good, or just say the kids are too young to notice anyway. He's not big on material goods.)

I don't know, to me it's like - fine, let them think that. You think she is the bitch who milks her father-in-law for money at every turn and never thanks anyone for gifts. Why continue to reward that? The tots will still get gifts from their parents and other, closer grandparents and aunts and uncles. They won't even know who their gifts are from at this early age. So why shouldn't my sister skip, say, a year of birthday and holiday gifts (not just Christmas but easter, Halloween, all the other things she sends kids treats for) and see what happens? See if the SIL and DIL actually have the nerve to bring it up and if so, say something like "Well, I never got any thanks or other feedback so I figured what I was shopping for and sending didn't please you, and there was no point in continuing." That's a Miss-Manners approved phrase.

If the children were 10 or 12 and would note the absence of a gesture from their grandfather I guess I would bite the bullet and do the shopping but at this early age, why not give the parents something to think about? Am I being unreasonable? Is my sister being a people-pleaser or doormat, or playing a wise long game?

Sorry for the long-winded explanation!

19lottie82 Thu 25-Feb-16 16:32:40

Its none of your business. Keep out of it.

You have no right to bitch about your brother in less paying for his child's wedding.

19lottie82 Thu 25-Feb-16 16:33:04

Brother in law, not less. Stupid iPhone!

BombadierFritz Thu 25-Feb-16 16:39:50

Well i am a bit lost but i think you are asking if the gparent should buy gifts for his grandkids? Yes he should. The step gparent doesnt have to buy them on his behalf though.

Terribleknitter Thu 25-Feb-16 16:52:39

I think she should let him put the $20 in the card and be done with it tbh. She's flogging a dead horse if she thinks they will ever show respect or appreciation for what her and her husband do because the son and DIL have been allowed to get away with for so long by his father. Unless her DH opens his eyes to the distasteful way he's being treated there's very little she can do about it tbh, it sounds very hard though. thanks

LeaLeander Thu 25-Feb-16 16:55:38

Why should my sister feel she is perceived as "a bitch" if she decides not to buy gifts that are not acknowledged nor thanked for, nor reciprocated? And why should she care?

19lottie, I think you are unclear on the concept. I AM out of it. I merely wanted to discuss, on a ...er...discussion board... the situation & solicit other opinions.

CigarsofthePharoahs Thu 25-Feb-16 17:39:07

Take a look at the FB selling shite threads and pick some gifts. smile
In all seriousness, I'd encourage her just to put money in a card. They don't appreciate the time or effort.

Hissy Thu 25-Feb-16 17:54:00

Perhaps they ought to pen a bank account for the grandchildren and put cash in that and send Token gifts.

I agree, your sister needs ton stop trying to impress these shitty people. Give them as much consideration as they give her.

Birdsgottafly Thu 25-Feb-16 17:58:19

My eldest DD is very materialistic, but would I fuck have anyone comment on what she gets from me, or call her 'an obnoxious user'.

If they have separate finances, then your Sister will just have to get over it, or stop venting to you.

I think that she shouldn't have imposed your families gift giving habit, unless she was happy to do it.

Leave him to make his own arrangements.

Only she can change the way she feels and her impression of how she is perceived. I have resentful adult step children, you got to stop caring and accept that you can't change things.

She needs to decide what type of relationship that she wants with her step grandchildren and if its realistically possible.

theycallmemellojello Thu 25-Feb-16 18:31:41

You're giving these people waayy too much headspace. I think it is a bit harsh to not buy gifts for tiny nieces and nephews because you don't get on with the parents, but whatever, your sister can do what she wants, you can do what you want. Just try not to worry about how much they're spending, you can't do anything about it.

OurBlanche Thu 25-Feb-16 18:32:17

Crikey, that was nice.

No, OP, YANBU and nor is your sister for feeling put upon. I agree with you, she should just stop. They are his kids, grandkids, let him deal with them.

To buy or not buy? That is, now, his question!

EnriqueTheRingBearingLizard Thu 25-Feb-16 18:45:48

It sounds unpleasant for DSis, not only about the lack of basic manners or courtesy towards her from those particular inlaws, but their general attitude towards her and her DH.

If I were her I'd be speaking frankly to my DH and telling him that he needed to sort them out for cards and gifts as I was fed up of their attitude towards us. For his DGCs' sakes I'd also put some money aside and give it directly to them when they were older.

That's what I'd tell her next time she vented to me.

FoolsAndJesters Thu 25-Feb-16 18:48:00

Wow, not sure why you are getting such confused hmm responses.

If I was your sister then I would stop organising gifts. I don't think the kids would care even if they were older. Perhaps she could give the kids a fiver or a tenner when she sees them when they get older but I wouldn't bother with anything else.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Thu 25-Feb-16 18:49:13

I think she should treat all grandchildren the same; it isn't their fault they have awful parents.

I absolutely believe you that they are generally grabby and terrible, but I do think you are doing that thing where even innocuous stuff they've done looks terrible to you because of their previous form. There's nothing wrong with having a legal ceremony before the birth of a child and then another "proper" wedding afterwards. Lots of people do that. There's also nothing unusual about a father giving $5k towards the wedding. Lots of people do that.

The best rule of thumb with this stuff is always to follow the lead of the partner who's the actual blood relative. If he wants to throw $20 into a card, go with that.

LeaLeander Thu 25-Feb-16 19:41:33

Well, here in the US, it's considered supremely tacky to have a wedding "do over." You get one wedding per marriage and if you want to celebrate later you have a party, but not a re-enactment.

And beyond that, there is a great deal wrong with lying to people that you are unmarried and having them (not just my sister and BIL but many relatives who strained their budget to do so) travel thousands of miles to attend the supposed real wedding. The only reason they were caught is that obnoxious stepson was stupid enough to ask his brother for help with the married-filing-jointly income tax return for the year of their secret marriage, and the brother felt so betrayed at the lie that he spread the word to everyone else. But unfortunately that was some months after everyone had exerted themselves to attend and participate in the fake wedding.

BIL was not informed that he would be spending $5K at the rehearsal dinner. They were apprised in advance that a buffet for that few people would be about $2K but the bride added things like a seafood board and other expensive amenities without consulting him.

But anyway trust me, their obnoxiousness and grabbiness is well-documented; even the son's own siblings detest him. What I am questioning is whether my sister, who feels no affection for these people and has only seen their kids a couple of times since birth, is nuts to feel that others will look down on her if she doesn't provide the children with gifts, despite the gifts never being acknowledged by the parents, who clearly can't stand my sister.

* Note, the last time they visited, my sister passed the TV room at 8 a.m. to find the two-year-old standing up on a swiveling office chair, trying to play with the computer, while her parents slept in a room at the far end of the house. My sister alerted BIL & left to run some errands and when she came back hours later the mother was not yet out of bed. Sis found the child gnawing on a dog biscuit and asked the child's father what the child had eaten for breakfast and the father got a blank look - it never occurred to him to feed his own kid all morning, while he zoned out in front of the TV. My BIL caught the same child alone on the balcony of its parents' third-floor urban condo trying to squeeze through the railing. They really are horrid people.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Thu 25-Feb-16 20:32:03

I am American. We must move in different circles, as I know many, many people who have had to have "secret" city hall ceremonies for immigration reasons (lots of academics etc) and it isn't considered the least bit tacky.

You clearly hate them; you are almost certainly well justified to do so. But you are absolutely doing that "bitch eating crackers" thing where even things that are not a big deal are driving you to distraction.

I hope the ranting helps anyway. They aren't going to change so your sister just needs to make her peace with it.

I picked up on the "the other siblings hate her too" thing in your first post but didn't want to pile on - but since you mention it again, she really, really shouldn't talk to the other siblings about how awful they are. It's a recipe for disaster for her. Somebody is going to spread it around and she'll end up looking like a bitch. Or the siblings will (wrongly) wonder what she's saying about them behind their backs.

LeaLeander Thu 25-Feb-16 21:03:59

Yes, holdmecloser, we must indeed move in vastly different circles. In mine you get one wedding and if getting a green card or being married to get a spouse's insurance benefits or to take a tax deduction is more important than waiting to plan the perfect BWW, then you get the quiet quickie ceremony - and enjoy the resulting legal/economic benefits - and that's that.

You don't get to double-dip by claiming the legal etc. benefits of marriage, and yet pretend you are not married in order to star in a re-enactment princess for the day pageant months or years later. At least in any "circle" I've ever known. It's one or the other.

As to the people in question, I don't even know them so I don't hate them. But after 10 years of listening to "Obnoxious grabby Mike and Shelley" stories from my sister, I am perplexed as to why she continues to go out of her way to placate them. Her husband knows how she and all his other kids feel about them, it's not a family secret or a topic that is hush-hush. They all talk about it openly at their gatherings, which generally don't include Mike and Shelley because everyone knows they'd a) get stuck with the monetary tab and b) get stuck watching the kids while Mike and Shelley party.

HoldMeCloserTonyDanza Thu 25-Feb-16 21:51:23

the brother felt so betrayed at the lie that he spread the word to everyone else.

Yeah, where I'm from, that would be considered a horrible betrayal of a private secret, and the brother who took it upon himself to spread it around would be given some serious side-eye. I mean, it was after the fact, he was just upsetting people for no reason!

* They all talk about it openly at their gatherings, which generally don't include Mike and Shelley*

Eeesh. Yeah, I don't blame you for keeping your distance from this family. They all sound like drama queens. And they're sucking you in! Look at all the effort you've expended here!

LeaLeander Thu 25-Feb-16 23:07:30

It wasn't a private secret, the couple didn't care who knew after the fact once they had reaped their loot at the wedding. These are people who owe money right and left (to banks and other creditors as well as to family members) but think nothing of registering for $500 sheet sets for their wedding gifts from the same people they owe.

They also insisted that all wedding guests wear "earth tones" like "desert sand" as the wedding was held in a western US desert spa resort, and they wanted the guests to coordinate with the scenery. My sister's stepdaughter and SD-in-laws said "fuck that" and wore the most clashing color dresses they could find. Sis and I had fun thinking up "earth tone" color names like "beetle dung" and "guano deposit" to suggest to other guests, LOL.

BombadierFritz Fri 26-Feb-16 07:59:34

Well yes you dont like them, thats perfectly clear. It sounds a dysfunctional family so i suppose favouritism from grandparents would seem normal, but its not normal or nice.

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