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Not to buy presents for my nephews?

(55 Posts)
Temporaryname137 Fri 07-Oct-16 13:58:27

I have namechanged for this so as not to out myself or anyone else!

I will try to keep the backstory brief to avoid drip feeding. My brother has been married for about 8 years to a woman who always seemed pleasant enough but had some red flags - absolutely no friends; very insular life, etc. We (by whom I mean my dad, other brother and I) liked her well enough, but she never really had all that much to say for herself, so I can't say we knew her very well in hindsight at least.

Initially she got on well with my dad in particular, and he paid for lots of meals out, holidays etc, and ultimately for her wedding. A few years after getting married, they had a little boy, and at that point, her behaviour changed totally. She became very angry with my brother and controlling of the child - for example, you'd go round there, and you were never allowed to pick up the baby or to read to him or feed him. You were allowed to look, but not to touch. She was also incredibly critical of my dad and how he interacted with the baby. My dad is a great granddad in my view; his other grandchildren love him to bits, but SIL thought he was too loud and rough and put him down constantly.

After a year or so there was an incident with my SIL and my dad. I won't go into detail as it could out me, but suffice it to say that to the extent my dad was in the wrong, he was at worst insensitive, and would have been mortified to think he had caused any upset/offence. Certainly had he been told what he had done, he would have apologised. But instead SIL acted like it was the worst thing in the world, sent a truly disgusting email that was dripping with malice and venom, and put a ban on my DN seeing any of the family. If my brother wanted to see his family, she would make up some transparent excuse (it's amazing how often one perfectly healthy woman can hurt her back!) to stop it.

At birthdays and Christmas, we were told that we could not see DN, but presents would be taken off us a few days in advance so that DN could open them with SIL's family. I like to make a big deal out of presents; I am lucky enough to have disposable income and I like to spend it on people - but I do like to watch the recipient opening them! So I refused to do this, and told my brother that I would go shopping with him and DN to choose things. In response I got an email from SIL saying that DN was too young to go shopping with "a stranger", but she would tell me what I could buy and post to them...

About a year after this, I got pregnant. This did not go down well with SIL, who said some breathtakingly horrible things about me, the baby and my partner (whom she's never even met) to some very old friends of mine, putting them in a very unpleasant position. She also sent a few more unpleasant emails to my dad - amongst other things throwing my dead mother (whom she also never met) in his face. None of us have been in touch with her due to not wanting to make my brother's life any worse, so she never got any reply to any of her rants.

Shortly after that, SIL got pregnant herself, and had another boy. He's now about 18 months and we've never seen him, and haven't seen his older brother since he was a baby.

Until now, I've maintained the stance that I will buy them anything they like so long as I can see them and they know their aunt. But it's getting to the stage where my brother is buying nice presents for my baby, and I feel guilty that I am not reciprocating. On the other hand, I don't see why I should buy presents for children who have no idea who I am, and who are going to be told a pack of lies about me and my family as soon as they are old enough to ask!

It's clear that my brother should stand up to his wife, as he's the one who's missing out on so much, but he's not, and that's his business, not mine. But AIBU not to buy them Christmas presents this year in light of the fact that my baby always gets nice things from him? WWYD?

Sorry for the epic!

AlpacaLypse Fri 07-Oct-16 14:01:52

Is she posting these gifts to you then?

Perhaps you could send them back so that you don't feel obliged to reciprocate.

Sounds like the relationship between your SIL and the rest of your family is irretrievably trashed anyway, so it can't make things any worse.

Temporaryname137 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:04:07

Good question, sorry I should have explained that better - we do see my brother from time to time, it's just that we get squeezed into an hour here and there when she is busy elsewhere. So my brother buys and brings the presents himself; they are always just from UncleTemporaryname137 not him and his family, IYSWIM.

DoItTooJulia Fri 07-Oct-16 14:04:17

Open a savings account for the boys and put the money in that you would have spent.

When they're old enough to visit you/get to know you, they can have the money?

Chocolatecake12 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:09:21

Your brother needs to stand up to this women - she's very manipulative by the sounds of it.
I would explain to your brother how you feel about the presents but in my mind you don't give to receive and he's obviously happy to give presents to your dc. Maybe in the future things may change and you'll get to buy for them at that time. Until then there's not much you can do!

mrsfuzzy Fri 07-Oct-16 14:09:22

i would talk to your brother about this and see what he thinks, this sounds like a delicate situation and it would be good to get insight from him as to why she is so angry, there might be mental health problems.
it's difficult but i tend to agree with alpaca on this one,i would probably go nc as it is so toxic with her but try to keep the door open with db.

mrsfuzzy Fri 07-Oct-16 14:12:07

is your db happy though? sound a potentially emotionally abusive marriage, may be he accepts it as the norm and 'it's the way she is', creeping around to visit when she's out ? that is very wrong in all respects.

SheldonsSpot Fri 07-Oct-16 14:15:01

I would buy them presents. I think refusing to do so on the basis that "I like to watch the recipient open them" is really off. You'll only give gifts in exchange for time with them? Nah, not nice.

Mybeardeddragonjustdied2016 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:18:27

Your brother needs to man up. That is his child too and she can't stop him taking his own son to visit family!!
What a doormat.

Okkitokkiunga Fri 07-Oct-16 14:19:23

A very difficult situation. However they are also your DB's children and you still get on with him. Could you arrange to go shopping with DB as at least he can chose something he knows his children will like and you get to maintain a relationship of sorts. Be the bigger person. Go through DB. Invite your nephews to birthday parties, family gatherings. One day they may come and in the meantime they'll know you do think about them.

Temporaryname137 Fri 07-Oct-16 14:24:43

Thanks everyone, lots to think about here. I like the idea of a savings account for them that they can find out about when they are older. We do invite them to everything, but I do also worry that it puts my brother under more stress, as then he feels he has to make excuses as to why they aren't there sad.

I am sure DB isn't that happy, but unless he admits that and wants to talk about it, I don't really think I can suggest it to him.

Not quite what I said, Sheldon. My point is that they have no idea who I am, but would be told that all presents come from her family. If they knew me, I wouldn't refuse to give presents unless I was there in person, of course!!

QueenLizIII Fri 07-Oct-16 14:43:42

At birthdays and Christmas, we were told that we could not see DN, but presents would be taken off us a few days in advance so that DN could open them with SIL's family.

They would have got nothing out of me.

QueenLizIII Fri 07-Oct-16 14:46:23

Especially if they are going to pretend the presents arent from you.

Ohdearducks Fri 07-Oct-16 14:55:29

I'd buy them, your problem is with their mum not them why should they miss out? Especially as your baby gets gifts from your brother. I think what's really going on is that understandably you don't want to do what Evil SIL has asked of you rather than you don't want to give them gifts because you don't get to see them.
They may question the lies their mum will feed them about you if they remember how kind you were to send them gifts growing up.

milkshakeandmonstermunch Fri 07-Oct-16 14:55:57

Yeah they'd get nothing from me either! She thinks she can send you a pre-approved list and you can post it? Fuck off.

The savings idea is good.

QueenLizIII Fri 07-Oct-16 14:56:31

Ohdearducks.....they shouldnt miss out on gifts as they arent part of the dispute. But they wont even tell the children the presents are from her.

Under those circumstances they'd be given nothing.

Silverstreaks Fri 07-Oct-16 14:57:21

She's a fruitcake! Presents only if given in person.
Your brother must be a wreck dealing with her.

Temporaryname137 Fri 07-Oct-16 15:02:41

Yes, I think he is genuinely terrified that if they split up he won't see the kids again, or not very often. I don't know if she is threatening that or if he is just making gloomy assumptions. But that's definitely why he puts up with it.

Temporaryname137 Fri 07-Oct-16 15:04:24

I should also add that the little one was recently very poorly with flu a few months ago, so I did send a big box of presents for him then, as I felt really sorry for the little thing.

I sent them to my brother at work. He is STILL dripfeeding them to him slowly because he doesn't dare tell his wife where they came from. FFS!

QueenLizIII Fri 07-Oct-16 15:07:58

Oh look fuck that.

I dont want to give too much away but i went through similar with my sister and her two kids not long ago.

She's quite manipulative. After so many threats of I won't let you see my dc anymore after we had a disagreement i told her fine....i dont want to see you or your kids if it's going to be like this.

It brought her up short.

Tell your brother to keep his kids and crazy wife but you want no part of it.

Gatehouse77 Fri 07-Oct-16 15:15:33

I would go with the savings account too. You can send your brother the statements annually.
Alternatively, you could buy them premium bonds.

Baylisiana Fri 07-Oct-16 15:20:41

I really think what to so with the presents is the least of your worries. You should mention this to your brother, he seriously needs to step up and could maybe use family support to help him. if they split up and had shared custody your family would be able to see the dc. Your brother needs to get angry that she is preventing her children from having important and beneficial relationships. Maybe she needs help too if this was a sudden change in her.

nicenewdusters Fri 07-Oct-16 15:33:04

I agree, savings account. I wouldn't buy gifts that are passed off as being from somebody else. If she wants nothing to do with you then yes, she can piss off. Let your db know you care and think about his dc, and that therefore you are saving up money for them, with payments at Christmas and birthdays.

I personally wouldn't go through the whole charade of inviting your dn's to things. She gets to snub you, he has to squirm and make up excuses. Why not just tell him you get what's going on. You want nothing to do with her, and you're surprised he's prepared to put up with somebody who insults his dad, his sister and pretty much everybody else.

If he has any sense/backbone, he'll ensure you have a relationship with your nephews. If he doesn't, what else can you do?

shovetheholly Fri 07-Oct-16 15:33:08

I would frame this differently.

Instead of seeing the presents as a kind of moral judgement on your SIL, see them as a way of keeping communication and love for your brother and his children open in spite of her. Yes, she sounds like an absolute nightmare and her behaviour sounds awful. But presents for children probably aren't the place to enact your condemnation of her behaviour. There is clearly still love for your brother there, and you are able to meet him on a one-to-one basis so there's an opportunity to hand over gifts as well. This way, the kids know that you do care for them as well, which can be important.

Sometimes, with a very dysfunctional situation, it's the little reciprocities that make it clear that you are still 'there' for someone. Your brother may need you one day.

Benedikte2 Fri 07-Oct-16 15:35:03

I agree with other posters that you should open bank accounts to give the boys when they leave school or go to university.
Meanwhile just send birthday cards. That way the boys will know of your existence (some will get through the iron curtain) and store the info away for when they are older.
By the time they leave home they will have a pretty good grasp on how mean and bonkers their mother is. (Probably can't wait to get away)
With the bank accounts your brother will know you care about his sons because they are his children, too, and you won't need to feel guilty about his gifts to your DC. He knows the situation re your buying gifts is too difficult and is possibly relieved you don't send stuff he can't explain without causing a row.
Good luck

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