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Presents for brothers and sisters on their siblings birthday

(138 Posts)
sleepsforwimps Mon 02-Nov-09 09:51:46

Am I being unreasonable, my Mother in law has given my daughter a present on my sons birthday, and my son a present on my daughter's birthday. On my sons birthday (he was 1 dd was 2) I managed to hide the present and give her the toy about a week later as MIL was not at my ds' birthday so not a problem.

At my dd's 3rd birthday though my dd went to open one of her presents only to be told it was not hers but her brothers.. dd burst into tears as didn't understand why it wasn't hers as she rightly asumed all the presents were for her to open. Over the tears I explained to my MIL that I had told my dd before my ds's birthday that on someones birthday only that person gets presents as it is their special day. DD had been absolutely fine with that, no jealousy, just excited about that it would one day be her birthday. I think it would have been polite for my MIL to have told me prior to their birthdays that she wished to do this, as even if I didn't like it, I could have at least explained to dd that this was something that Grandma does. Instead the present was just left on the floor, no label, no explanation until DD went to open it.

My MIL has now explained why they are getting presents, but only after I asked why, she said she likes to buy her grandchildren a present on their siblings birthday "so they don't feel left out". I really don't agree with this, but it was only after my dd was in tears that I knew about my ds's present. MIL told me she does it for her daughters children and has always done that, it's something 'they do'. After explaining to her that I had explained to my daughter that only the person whose birthday it is gets presents on their birthday, they hid the present for my ds (who being 1 had no idea what was going on anyway).

I felt so awkward at saying something but needed to as I feel it's important that they don't 'expect' presents on others birthdays. Also it was confusing for my dd as was the opposite to what I had explained to her.. I told MIL how grateful I was for the present and she was welcome to give it to my ds on any other day but my dd's birthday.

Am I being unreasonable? I now feel so awkward about it, I'm truly grateful for her treating the other, but it's not how I wish to do things.

Restrainedrabbit Mon 02-Nov-09 09:56:34

YANBU, I find this a strange practice!

Emprexia Mon 02-Nov-09 09:56:43

YANBU, its the birthday persons special day, not anyone elses.

My parents never agreed with sibling presents and i had friends who's parents did it and thought it was very weird and odd.

Children should learn that they have a special day and also that they shouldnt expect presents on their siblings birthdays.

theITgirl Mon 02-Nov-09 10:00:09

My MIL does this as well, I don't agree with it but let it go. She does make sure that it is kept seperate though.
Actually MIL buys them too many presents anyway. With the result whenever she comes they ask her for their presents. I tell them off but also say to MIL that she should visit occasionally without a present to stop this.

sleepsforwimps Mon 02-Nov-09 10:00:47

Thankgod it's not just me that thinks it's odd. I think it's such an important early lesson to learn.

madrush Mon 02-Nov-09 10:03:03

It is very strange and my MIL does it too. We just all look a bit askance at her every year and say, "But Grandma, it's X's birthday, why did you get Y a present?" so she has to explain it all over again.

Try to put how you feel about it in the box in your mind "things that family does that really annoy me" and leave it there. It's not the end of the world, don't let it spoil the birthdays stretching into the future.

canihaveapeeinpeacepleasebob Mon 02-Nov-09 10:04:48

I agree, this does seem like a strange thing to do on birthdays. I think your mil should respect your wishes and not do it again.

cory Mon 02-Nov-09 10:06:16

I think it's bizarre to teach children that other people's birthdays/treats/presents are something that they need compensation for. Isn't that more or less the message if you introduce sibling presents?

silverfrog Mon 02-Nov-09 10:07:05

If you don't agree, try to put a stop to it now.

My step-children's mother has always doen this, and still does it to this day - dsd is now 19 and dss is 18 shock and they STILL get presents on their sibling's birthday shock shock

I find it extraordinary - why on earth is it wrong to teach a child (andnow, in our situation, an adult!) that the world does not entirely revolve around them, and that othe rpeople can have special days (and even, actually, that you can enjoy other poeple's special days without any presents yourself - whatever happened to "the joy is in the giving"?)

I really don't like the expectation that has grown up in my step-children (not their fault, I realise, as things have always been done this way for them) that they are entitled to a present on someone else's birthday.

dsd asked where her present was on dd1's first birthday - dsd was 14 at the time...

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Mon 02-Nov-09 10:07:37

my in laws do this as well other wise it "isn't fair" I have talked to them until I am blue in the face. THE BOTH HAVE 1 BIRTHDAY each year of course it is fair.

I remove the gift if I get to it first but they have taken to pulling DS to one side and saying don't show mummy angry

notanumber Mon 02-Nov-09 10:08:37

"I think it would have been polite for my MIL to have told me prior to their birthdays that she wished to do this, as even if I didn't like it, I could have at least explained to dd that this was something that Grandma does."

I think this is a bit unreasonable to be honest. I can see why your MIL didn't think it necessary to check with you. You had already implicity told her it was ok because you didn't bring it up after your son's birthday.

She had given the present for your daughter on your son's birthday and you didn't tell her it was a problem then, and you allowed her to think that the present had been given on the day rather than you secretly hiding it then giving it to her a week later.

No wonder it didn't occur to her that you might think it impolite when she did the same again on her daughter's birthday.

Wouldn't it have been easier just to tell her straight? She's not a mind reader.

So...Tell her. You've explained your rationale for not giving siblings presents on here very well, so just repeat that to her. Is she a total monster who would defy your wishes? Or is she a loving grandmother who was trying to do something nice and just didn't realise that it's not how you want things done?

NoNameNameyChangey Mon 02-Nov-09 10:14:28

But you already knew - because she did it on your DS's birthday (when you whisked the gift away). If she did it last time and you did not address it why did you expect it to be different this year? Why were you not ready for it and why had you not already had the conversation with dd?

It is an odd thing to do, I agree, however claiming that you were unwarned is false and therefore YABU. You should have known it was coming and dealt with it, sorry.

sleepsforwimps Mon 02-Nov-09 10:20:21

I honestly thought the present for my daughter that was sent with my sons birhday was a one off, so did my partner. I've never heard of any one doing this before.

I still think she could have labelled the present for my ds or kept it aside, explained to my dd why she was giving her brother a present too.

BertieBotts Mon 02-Nov-09 10:24:36

When I was younger we had a family friend who would get a small token gift for the non-birthday child. I was never expecting it and even when it stopped I didn't expect it the next year as well. I thought it was quite nice to say "You haven't been forgotten" - a whole day devoted to a sibling can seem a long time for a small child. Equally though I was happy when I didn't get one just joining in with the celebrations etc.

I think if it's a token gift it's ok, don't think I'd be happy with family buying huge gifts for children on their siblings' birthdays.

NoNameNameyChangey Mon 02-Nov-09 10:24:37

I am sure you do think that but the fact is that she has done it before and you did not act, you cannot really blame her for thinking that you found it just as normal as she does.

It is an odd thing but it is not unusual, how would she know you were so opposed to something that is actually quite a nice thought (if a little misguided)?

AmazingBouncingFerret Mon 02-Nov-09 10:28:00

This is strangely quite common and I must admit to giving customers odd looks when they say they are buying for sibling x when its sibling y's birthday.

mazzystartled Mon 02-Nov-09 10:29:20

Obviously she should have labelled it or kept it separately.

I do think it's a bit peculiar, but random people do seem to like to do it.

TBH though, if it's just a little token and it's just your MIL, I wouldn't get too het up about it.

PrettyCandles Mon 02-Nov-09 10:29:32

I can see where the OP is coming from, but I think it's just one of the grandparent/IL things you have to accept.

Of course it was upsetting for the dd to suddenly have a present 'taken away' from her, something that could have been avoided by the MIL giving the present separately to the ds, or labeling it, or letting people know that it was not a present for tthe dd.

I don't recall ever receiving presents on my siblings birthdays (tho of course that doesn't mean it didn't happen). As long as they were too young to easily accept not being the centre of attention, say between the ages of 3/4 and 6, we have given the non-birthday child a little present on the other dcs' birthdays.

My parents, though, continue to give the other children presents on a sibling's birthday, even though we have explained that they are old enough not to need it any more - or young enough not to be bothered. Used to drive me nuts - an insult to dh and my parenting choices.

Over the years we have come to terms with it, and accept that perhaps we were being a bit precious. GPs love giving presents. Much nicer than not giving any!

sleepsforwimps Mon 02-Nov-09 10:29:49

It was a misunderstanding, I probably should have said something after my sons birthday. I feel relieved it's been spoken about now while they are still so little though. The sibling was given a big present by the way.

GooseyLoosey Mon 02-Nov-09 10:37:01

I am quite surprised that so many think it is odd. There is 15 months between my dcs and it is something I have always done. Each sibling also gets to invite 1 friend to the other's party (although never one that birthday child does not like).

I don't have siblings but dh says that he always hated his sister's birthday when he was vey little and it was a non-event when he was older. I don't want this - I want them to look forward to and celebrate each other's birthdays.

When they are older, I will drop the present bit, but hopefully by then they will have come to see their sibling's birthday as a happy fun occassion.

crokky Mon 02-Nov-09 10:41:15

I would just humour my MIL a bit more I think. Would it be so difficult? You come from different families and have different traditions, can't you incorporate a bit of both?

I have a 3yo and a 1yo btw.

MILs like buying presents for their GC and my MIL does buy unsuitable things (something for age 5-9 given to 2yo etc) but she really enjoys buying this stuff and she really loves her grandchildren. I accept things with thanks and anything unsuitable, I pass to the charity shop or wherever.

I think that if your 3yo had, say 5-10 presents, it wouldn't hurt for your other child to just have one as "that's what grandma likes to do" - I don't see the problem really, although it is not something I do.

I would like to put another argument to you about your child's "special day". Children who think that their birthday is totally special and nothing else matters are perhaps being set up for unrealistic expectations in adult life - how many posts have I seen on MN saying "it's my birthday and DH has not made enough effort/I want I want...". I think this special day stuff has to be done in moderation - there are still other people around even though it is a particular person's birthday. For example, I spent my 30th birthday with a postnatal midwife (for me and my youngest DC) - I had a nice vaginal exam of my stitches, I let my DD get "stabbed" for a heal prick, I had my ILs come to see the new baby for the first time and I had no presents. And I had a 2yo to look after. Do you think I threw my toys because I had not received breakfast in bed and a load of expensive gifts and adoration or do you think I just got on with the day?

(I got on with the day btw grin)

I really don't see why you can't humour your MIL on this one. I disagree with my ILs on many things, but I don't make a fuss and upset them over it, they are just old people and it is not difficult to please them (cup of tea and a cake!). MIL wants me to teach my DD (who is 19m) to READ NOW!!! I just smile and give her a cup of tea. Do you think my MIL needs a lecture on how to bring up children? I don't, I just let it all go and my MIL is a happy granny.

thecookiemumster Mon 02-Nov-09 10:47:16

YABU. I don't get the whole "birthday diva" thing. Why should a child be told that ONLY he/she gets a present? If someone wants to give another person a present they should be able to do so without the birthday child getting into a strop or feeling like a poor little victim.

It's a bit silly to buy the whole household birthday gifts when it's one child's birthday (do they do it in a household of 5,6,7 or 8 children?), but if they want to do I think you need to lighten up and let them.

shockers Mon 02-Nov-09 10:51:40

We do the same as goosey. A small present for the sibling and one friend at each other's party. Neither of them have ever minded. However, I can understand your daughter being confused if a present was taken off her.

MintyCane Mon 02-Nov-09 11:01:24

YABU she was just trying to be nice.

BadPoet Mon 02-Nov-09 11:04:17

Are you my SIL theITgirl? It's exactly the same here. MIL's decision really, I don't get involved particularly although I do attempt conversations with the dcs about how lovely it would be to see Granny even if she didn't bring a present.

Cue baffled looks and 'but she always does'. 'Yes yes, but if she didn't for some reason...' 'But she always does.' and so on.

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