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to think they're not ungrateful, just disappointed?

(106 Posts)
Blinkybell Sun 12-Feb-17 11:22:42

I have 2 DDs, every Christmas and birthday MiL will ring up and ask what they would like.

Every Christmas and birthday I give her a range of ideas (she gives me a budget and I'll give her suggestions within that). Every Christmas and birthday she'll then tell me she doesn't want to buy any of the things I've suggested and will buy something totally different.

Both DDs have hobbies and interests which are a gold mine of present ideas - DD2 is into horse riding and needed new jodhpurs, or her riding school does gift vouchers for hacks or lessons, etc, etc. DD1 is massively arty and is currently doing her art GCSE and loves sketch books or any art stuff really.

At Christmas MiL didn't want to buy anything we suggested and bought them some make up gift sets (nail varnish, etc). DD2 doesn't wear any make up. DD1 does but she has her own brands and colours that suit her. Both girls were really polite, thanked her, were fairly enthusiastic and wrote her thank you letters after Christmas

Anyway, DD2 has a birthday coming up and MiL called last night to find out what DD would like. DH gave her some ideas, and again, she didn't want to buy those things. DH asked her why she kept asking if she was just going to ignore anything we said. It ended up in a bit of an argument - our kids are ungrateful and spoilt and she didn't know why she bothered.

Thing is, she never listens, she's never really bothered to get to know our kids, she's just not interested in them really (DH's older sister was always the favoured child, and now her kids are the favoured grandchildren) so she doesn't know that DD2 doesn't ever wear make up and that at 15 DD1 saves up her pocket money to buy MAC.

They are polite, they say thanks, write letters, phone her, etc, but it does upset them - they've both said "does Nanny know us at all?" Especially when they see their cousins opening stuff like computer games they've asked for

I just get a bit fed up with it all. They'd never say anything, but they're not grateful in all honesty, and I can't say I blame them.

user892 Sun 12-Feb-17 11:26:52

YANBU and your DDs sound like wonderful girls, good job. MIL is missing out - her fault entirely. Can you make a joke out of it to lighten the hurt each time?

TheStoic Sun 12-Feb-17 11:27:15

Yeah...I don't think kids should ever be ungrateful about presents. You've obviously all discussed it, and I don't think that's a great message to send kids.

Next time your MIL asks, just say with a smile 'whatever you choose will be lovely.'

I don't think gifts are ever worth getting upset about.

historyismything Sun 12-Feb-17 11:27:45

No real advice but could you pass on the gifts to charity?
My husband is also not the favoured child, we are largely ignored which suits us fine. It must be so hurtful for your girls though.

Sparkletastic Sun 12-Feb-17 11:28:08

YANBU. MIL used to do this to my DDs - ask for ideas then ignore them and spend loads of money on hideous clothes to her taste or tat. Like your DDs mine were polite and wrote thank you notes but there was no genuine enthusiasm. Now when she asks we suggest vouchers and she seems happy with this. DDs spend on stuff they really want then can be genuinely enthusiastic when they tell MIL what they bought. Worth a go?

MrsHathaway Sun 12-Feb-17 11:28:35

Grateful is recognising that gifts aren't a right but a privilege, and expressing thanks promptly and politely.

It is not changing your habits and/or entire personality to suit the buying preferences of another person.

When the cousins get precisely what they've asked for, is that because what they ask for is what fits with MIL's image of what teenagers should like?

Good for DH for sticking up for them.

Bringmewineandcake Sun 12-Feb-17 11:30:25

It does seem like a waste of time and money to ask for ideas and then buy something neither of your DDs want. I think it's good your DH has raised the issue and now you'll have to wait and see if your DD does get a birthday present.
I don't subscribe to the view that kids should be grateful no matter what - on that basis I'd buy your MiL a man's jumper for her next birthday, it's the thought that counts eh?

Gardencentregroupie Sun 12-Feb-17 11:30:32

I can't honestly see what there is for there to be grateful about. Someone isn't listening to them, is sending them stuff they don't want and clutters up their homes and won't get used, then demands fawning over it. It's an ego trip for the GM and your daughters (who sound like lovely girls) don't benefit at all.

YouTheCat Sun 12-Feb-17 11:32:21

Your girls sound lovely and you're doing the right thing by acknowledging the gifts with thank you letters, etc. However, I wouldn't have bothered mentioning anything to your mil. She won't change. Just make it into the family joke (not to her face, obviously) and accept that her gifts are always going to be a bit shit.

Do you reciprocate with lovely, thoughtful gifts?

neonrainbow Sun 12-Feb-17 11:33:26

Why should they be grateful for stuff they don't want and won't use? I have a relative who is endlessly trying to foist stuff onto us that we don't want or need. I have given up with gratitude now.

abbsisspartacus Sun 12-Feb-17 11:34:18

Distance yourself say just buy anything see what she comes up with remove the argument honestly some people will cause trouble on there own in a locked room! (Meaning your mil btw)

SmallBee Sun 12-Feb-17 11:36:51

MN is a bit funny about getting crap gifts. Some people will tell you that you should be grateful whatever you get, up to including a bit of old toast.
The point they are missing of course is that the gift itself is not the problem but rather it is indicative of a lack or real knowledge of the person and relationship with them.

I think you've got a few choices here.
A) just explain that some people buy gifts they would like to get themselves, regardless of how the recipient actually feels and that MIL is one of these. She isn't going to change and that's just how it is.
B) try and ask MIL to stop giving presents and instead take your DD's on a day out somewhere for bonding time. ( but explain again to DD's that it'll most likely be a day of things that MIL thinks are fun)
C) make her presents into a sort of joke to make light of the situation.
D) Use it as an opportunity to teach them about giving to charity.
E) something more clever I haven't thought of.

ProphetOfDoom Sun 12-Feb-17 11:37:51

Is your MIL unsure where to get horse or art related things from? When we were kids my father was only comfortable if you gave him an Argos code. Probably still is which is why he sends cheques.

Your dds sound lovely.

Blinkybell Sun 12-Feb-17 11:43:11


We've suggested gift vouchers and she won't buy them. Won't chip in for larger gifts either.

We've never really talked about it with the girls. DH has just said she was always shit at gift giving when he was growing up and he just smiled and thanked her - which is the line we've gone with mostly.

And no, I don't think they have anything to be grateful for to be honest. They'd never say anything to her, but I know it upsets them

The sets are just sitting in their rooms at the moment. We'll probably have a clear out at some point so they'll go to the school gift fair or a charity shop, it seems like such a waste when she could have spent the same amount of money (or less even) on something they actually liked and wanted/needed

JustAnotherYellowBelly Sun 12-Feb-17 11:44:09



cherrypie11 Sun 12-Feb-17 11:45:38

TheStoic I kind of agree, but at same time why did MIL ask what they would like and then just not bother sticking to it? Unless what they asked for was beyond her budget so she thought maybe she would get something else?

OurBlanche Sun 12-Feb-17 11:47:19

... or the cousins smile

Blinkybell Sun 12-Feb-17 11:48:49

Sorry, missed some posts,

Yes, she does know where to get this stuff - I've emailed her links, offered to buy the riding vouchers and post them to her, etc, etc.

She just seems to have very fixed ideas on what teenage girls should do/wear/like based on DH's older sister 20 years ago and refuses to listen to anything we say

OliviaStabler Sun 12-Feb-17 11:48:52

Agree with a PP, she is buying them what she thinks they should want.

ShoutOutToMyEx Sun 12-Feb-17 11:52:21

YANBU at all and your girls sound lovely. MIL is a bit like this - she gets people what she thinks they should like, rather than what they actually do. It's odd.

Gileswithachainsaw Sun 12-Feb-17 11:52:40

Your poor dds

They sound lovely. Being polite and gracious and sending all the letters etc. Exactly how it should be.

Your mother in law however is rude and selfish tbh.

Why bother asking if you are going to go and buy something else regardless. And I can see why your kids are upset tbh she clearly cares more about being seen as generous grandmother than she does about giving your kids something they may actually like.

Almost as if she wants to play the victim...

TalkingofMichaelAngel0 Sun 12-Feb-17 11:53:50

My mil does the same. Always asks for a list and links of suggestions. I Spend ages preparing said list with links. She always goes rogue. Im sure itnis a power play. I always ask dh what i should tell his mother he wants. He gives me a list of things related to his hobby. She buys him a jumper from m&s. He never wears jumpers. He is always hot. Weirdo that he is. She hasnt acknowledged my birthday for years. Yet, even mlre weirdly, asked what I wanted fkr xmas last year and. bought everything off the list! Husband got another m&s jumper.

beargrass Sun 12-Feb-17 11:54:18

This used to happen to us wth my step-nan. She just ignored what we liked and all the presents went to charity. There isn't much you can do. Maybe suggest vouchers instead next time but after that, just make sure they say thank you and so on. We got used to it and always said thank you.

senua Sun 12-Feb-17 12:04:54

Suppose that DC want presents ABC. Paternal gran sends presents XYZ.

I suggest that next time DC write an effusive thank you letter to Maternal gran, telling what fun times they had with present ABC, exactly what they wanted, best gift ever etc, etc.
Then "accidentally" post it to Paternal gran.

underneaththeash Sun 12-Feb-17 12:05:27

Yes, we have the same issue. Each Christmas and birthday MIL asks what the children would like and then get something else, which is either usually way too old/young for them, something we already have or a really cheap, nasty version of something I've suggested.

No matter how many times DH or I suggest that she just gets one decent present makes no difference.

Last christmas DD(5) got a little gift bag containing Uno (which we've already got 2 of), a princess dress age 3-4, a weaving loom (age 10+) and a plastic fold up castle thing that wouldn't stay together even with copious amounts of superglue. I'd suggested that she gets an age 5-6 party dress.

The children now know that her gifts aren't going to be great and are old enough to just say thank you and dump them in charity bag.

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