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I don't want to sound like a meanie but..........

(25 Posts)
bubble99 Sun 24-Apr-05 23:10:46

Everytime my DS's go to see Grandma and Grandpa (DH's parents) my MIL gives them some kind of present. We see her at least once, usually twice a week. Mr Bubble and I have both asked her not to but she keeps doing it, not necessarily big presents but sticker books, little action figures etc. When challenged she'll say that it's not really a present, just a little thing. I think we're finally getting through, we had a family/religious festival meal tonight and she tried to say that it was 'traditional' to give children presents. Mr Bubble said that this was rubbish, that his family drop bits of culture or tradition when they don't suit and so this particular piece of tradition could also be ignored. I don't want to be mean mummy but the boys have been getting so many toys from her that they don't value anyhting. Quite often the toys are broken or discarded straight away and end up not even making it home, being left in the car. It means that DH and I can't reward them with a toy if we want to as it will just be another one to add to the pile. I asked her tonight to buy presents/toys only on birthdays etc. so that they will actually mean something and might even be appreciated.
Anyone else experienced this?

Yorkiegirl Sun 24-Apr-05 23:13:15

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jjash Sun 24-Apr-05 23:16:33

Not exactly the same but my mum sees my kids once a week and loves them to bits but is a big softy with them and loves treating them .Eldest ds is 5 and needs to value what he gets so now she puts pocket money in a tin every week and then every half term she gets to take them to the toy shop .
Seems to work as she gets the pleasure of seeing them choose something new and its starting to teach them money sense .would your MIL be offended by this sort of idea ?

rickman Sun 24-Apr-05 23:17:51

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QueenEagle Sun 24-Apr-05 23:18:21

bubble this is a tricky one. My ex-MIL always brings cholcolate when she sees mine and it got to the point where they would be rooting around in her bag asking what have we got before even saying hello to her. I had to have firm words with my kids about manners. We don't see ex-MIL that often so for me it's not too much of an issue to bother having words about.

Could you say to your MIL/FIL that if they insist on buying stuff could they leave the things at their house so they have things to play with when they go there? If MIL thinks that things are going to pile up in her house, she might not be quite so keen to buy so much?

rickman Sun 24-Apr-05 23:18:40

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bubble99 Sun 24-Apr-05 23:19:25

That's the thing, it's the frequency as much as anything. She seems them so much. My mum sees them every other month or so and so I don't mind her giving them the odd present but once or twice a week is too much and, as you say, Yorkiegirl they now expect it.

jjash Sun 24-Apr-05 23:20:55

great minds Rickman

Yorkiegirl Sun 24-Apr-05 23:21:17

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jjash Sun 24-Apr-05 23:22:50

holiday pressies allowed i`d say.I get very upset if I dont get a pressie from someones holiday!!

WideWebWitch Sun 24-Apr-05 23:24:30

This is going to be unpopular but I'm going to say it anyway. My dad used to turn up to see ds, who was 2/3 at the time, with a bar of chocolate. I used to say, in new mother po faced fashion 'er, I try not to let him have chocolate actually' and I can remember the look on his face - my dad's, not ds's! - it was so crestfallen, a sort of 'I don't understand how I got this wrong, surely it's not that complicated?' look. Anyway, I so wish I hadn't said it and I'd let him do whatever he wanted to do for his grandson because he was trying to be kind and there wasn't really any harm (is there if a toy is discarded? really?) and well, it just wasn't a big deal really and I wish I'd realised it wasn't and just let him get on with it. I know the feeling about children and materialism but a crappy cheap toy, once a week, that she enjoys buying/giving and they enjoy receiving, even if they ditch it shortly afterwards. Where's the harm, really? I think it must be hard, being older and not knowing what the younger than you generation find acceptable/not acceptable these days.

Like I said, I know this is likely to be an unpopular view though, feel free to totally ignore/disagree of course!

jjash Sun 24-Apr-05 23:31:35

my grandparents used to bring us a sweet shop on every visit as kids .Didnt harm us but drove my mum mad ! Totally see your point WWW.S aving it up works for us now though as its become an event for kids and their nan .Im not invited sob sob

bubble99 Sun 24-Apr-05 23:31:59

That's a good idea, pocket money in a jar or even given to them directly. We've even had to talk to her about food. DS2 is prone to weight gain, he's nearly five and although we try not to make too big an issue of it or mention the 'D' word, we need to keep a close eye on what/ how much he's eating. When we go for tea she was, until recently, making them milkshakes with tons of ice cream in it. They now have water or milk with meals. I know she thinks we're Victorian but we're responsible for their bodies until they're old enough to look after themselves. It's all so unnecessary anyway, they love going to her house even without the presents/milkshakes but she can't seem to understand this.

TwinSetAndPearls Sun 24-Apr-05 23:58:49

I unserstand bubble your concerns about food but I do agree with WWW. Isn't that what grandparents are for. By all means put your foot down when it comes to food and sweets as that could harm their health but a little toy every week??

bubbly1973 Mon 25-Apr-05 07:41:04

bubble99 i can see what you mean when you say you dont have anything to punish them with like 'no toys for you if you are naughty'...a bit hard to follow a threat like that when your mil is giving them one every week and they know it

but i also see www point too, that is what grandparents are there for, to spoil them, and when you think, they arent around forever, kids are only kids for a little while, buying toys can only last a few years but the memory will be treasured in there minds for when they are older, and they will fondly remember how devoted the grandparents were

so i would say let it go, its one of lifes pleasures for grandparents...your mil sounds very devoted, id personally just let her carry on, she will soon stop

how old are they? couldnt you find an alternative punishment...'if your naughty no television' 'early to bed' 'no sweets' etc etc

bubbly1973 Mon 25-Apr-05 07:42:59

i should add that if grandparents dont buy toys it dont mean they arent devoted, my last message came across as if i was saying they are devoted cos they buy toys, i never meant it like that...its there way of showing and expressing the love for them is what i mean

flamesparrow Mon 25-Apr-05 07:49:55

I'm not sure if this would work, but you mentioned sticker books... how about one of those ones where you have to buy the little packs of stickers to go in them (football ones etc), that way it is something they are collecting to fill up the book. Your PIL still get the pleasure of giving something, your DSs will look forward to it because it is something they want to continue the set, and it is easy to store, not like lots of proper toys?

Toothache Mon 25-Apr-05 08:26:25

Blimey Bubble99 - You sound so mean!

Only joking.... I think you are absolutely right. We only see DH's parents perhaps 4 or 5 times a year but for the 5 days we are there visiting they SHOWER ds and dd with presents, sweets, chocolate.... infact anything that ds demands! He isn't normally cheeky or greedy, but down there he orders everyone around and demands chocolate biscuits and wine gums and all sorts.... Grandad always gives him what he wants and if I say NO they just sneak into the kitchen and he gives him the sweets anyway. The last twice we have visited them ds has ended up vomiting from the amount of crap he has eaten!! Drives me mental.

batters Mon 25-Apr-05 08:50:32

hmm I can see both sides here.

Dd's grandmother gives her complete and utter crap everytime she visits which is about once every 3 weeks. She can never turn up without a toy for her and some sweets. This annoys me on several levels - the toys are terrible, plastic, badly made etc, grandmother can't afford it anyway, and dd expects a toy every time she sees her. I have had to come to terms with letting grandmother do this though, it is her way of being able to do something for dd, however misguided it is. And actually my MIL has built a rod for her own back with this habit, as dd just blatantly asks for her present as soon as she sees her. I can't blame dd for this, it is what she is used to with her grandmother but at nearly 7 she is also old enough to realise that it is only her grandmother who behaves this way with her.

The sweets I am not more strict on, and quite often they are taken off dd and given to her another time.

I think grandparents are there to spoil their grandchildren, but at the same time they should take the wishes of the parents into account. I'd personally try to compromise if it really upsets you. Good luck, if you succeed you'll have done better than me!

roisin Mon 25-Apr-05 09:20:38

My in-laws used to do this, but have stopped some time ago, though my parents never did. (Both geographically distant - would see them every 6 weeks or so). It may be an attempt to compensate for not seeing them so often, but IMO it doesn't really do anything to build the relationship.

I don't know whether you can point this out tactfully, but my boys always appreciated much more the fact that my mum would:
Phone them every week at a special time and talk to them, and listen to them when they were old enough.
Send them letters, and postcards with little bits of 'junk' in them: train tickets from their holidays, that sort of thing.

kate100 Mon 25-Apr-05 09:30:55

I have exactly the same problem, my in=laws bring DS something everytime they see him and we don't want him to come to expect it. We have tried to talk to them about it, but MIL laughed and started talking over us!! We can't get them to see that DS is perfectly happy with them coming to play with him and spending all their time with him when they visit, which they do brilliantly. Also my parents see DS 3 or 4 imes a week, so clearly buying a present everytime he sees them is not an option. I would die if he ever said, 'why don't I get a present everytime I visit you?' I will suggest some of the other ideas given here.

Prufrock Mon 25-Apr-05 11:47:43

I think flamesparros idea is brilliant. Spoiling grandchildren is what being a grandparent is all about -you and your MIL just have to work out a way to allow her to do it that fits in with your parenting standards. So I think a no chocolate/ice cream rule is fine, but let he buy the stickers, or maybe a magazine, which can legitimately be thrown away when read (or recycled obv.)

weesaidie Mon 25-Apr-05 12:42:22

My mum is fantastic for buying dd gifts, she is only 1 and it is nearly always clothes so I just find it very helpful! Especially as they are usually very nice clothes and I am fairly broke!

I think it could become a worry when dd is older but at the moment it is more like a present for me than dd!

bubble99 Mon 25-Apr-05 12:54:14

You've all confirmed it. I am a total meanie Last night after coming home from the in-laws my two older DS's had a book each which they'd nabbed from Mr Bubble's old bedroom. One was a book about trains - OMG I've married a nerd (apologies to any trainspotters out there) and the other was a D&D book/magazine. That's it, DH has been well and truly outed now. Anyway, this morning I found both books under their pillows and I was really happy. They seem to value these, at the moment anyway, I haven't seen them stash toys etc. for ages. Buzz Lightyear last received that particular honour.

Don't worry. I'm not going to start giving them an old tin on a piece of string and expecting gratitude but it is nice to see things appreciated. OK, now I sound like my mother. I agree that Grandparents are there to spoil children but we see so much of the in-laws that it's just too much too often.

hub2dee Tue 26-Apr-05 13:59:08

Gotta laugh, bubble99 as I can, ahem, relate, IYSWIM.

FWIW I'm honestly not sure I agree with the idea that grandparents are there to spoil kids, or that it's OK to spoil them etc.

To consider the verb, for one moment, I think to spoil actually has negative connotations, and when we talk of a 'spoilt brat' I think we all share a common understanding of a kid who in unappreciative, never satisfied with what they have, never grateful for the simpler things in life...

I would more value some quality time / a special activity / some imparting of stories / wisdom / skills from the senior generation to the younger.

I'm doubtless heading for trouble; our dd to be is the first grandchild for both sets of parents, and neither my nor my dw's sibling is engaged etc...

I think if the in-laws / grandparents want to demonstrate love to their grandkids there are (1) better, more constructive ways than regular throw-away gifts and (2) that they should have the wisdom to appreciate that they need to modify their behaviour to fit in with their children's / daughter-in-law's parenting approach.

Ok. Flame me.

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