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WIBU to refuse to be complicit in this gift-giving?

(21 Posts)
Lockheart Mon 11-Dec-17 22:46:49

I thought about posting this in AIBU, but it might be a bit more nuanced than AIBU normally allows for! Anyway...

A few years ago, for her 50th birthday, my father bought my DM a very expensive ring from a range by an upmarket jewellers. We had a trip to London to pick it up and she was over the moon with it. My DM's birthday is at Christmas time, so it was a joint Christmas / 50th bday present.

This Christmas, my father wants to buy her a pair of earrings to match the ring. These are not cheap and will be 4 figures at least, depending which ones he goes for.

I know my mum will be very upset if she opens these on Christmas morning. My parents relationship has been struggling hugely the last few years (I am personally of the opinion that my DM should leave as she is so desperately unhappy sad but I cannot make decisions for her). My father is of the general mindset that as he earns the main chunk of money then he rules the roost, and will often use extravagant gifts or paying for things as leverage to get what he wants later or as an excuse not to pull his weight. This was (is) common behaviour throughout my childhood. His behaviour is very bad towards my DM at the moment and I know these earrings will be an attempt to assuage his guilt and attempt to keep her on-side (he would truly be royally fucked if she left as he is completely dependent on her).

My parents have jointly agreed before that as they really have what they want already, they will not get each other any presents for Christmas or birthdays. My DM will feel so awful if my father presents her with these on Christmas Day and she has bought him nothing (my father has done this before, it wasn't such an expensive present but I remember my mum being upset).

My father has shown me the earrings several times and asked what I thought, and every time my answer has been "You need to talk to DM before buying something like that" - but as he has said, he knows she would say no.

I have an awful feeling he is going to buy them anyway, and sometime in the next couple of weeks I will get a phone call asking me if I can go to the jewellers to collect them (I now live in London).

I know my DM would love to have these earrings - IF they could afford them and they weren't trying to save money, and they weren't being sprung on her by my father in front of an audience (exacerbated this year as it is the first year my partner will be with us for Christmas; normally it is just family). Under those circumstances, she will not want them.

If this does happen, WIBU to refuse to collect them for him? He has a temper and having grown up with him I am almost programmed to do as he says - it's ridiculous and I'm working on it, but there's still a small part of me that's terrified of him and I will end up doing nearly anything to avoid confrontation. Unfortunately I think he knows this and will pressure me. Or he'll get my (well-meaning, but emotionally oblivious) brother to do it without my knowledge.

If he DOES do this, would I be completely out of order to tell him I am not collecting anything until he has spoken to DM?

I suppose my dilemma is that I am almost certain this will upset my mother, but I still have a nagging worry that maybe I've got this all wrong and it would be lovely and I would be mean to refuse to help.

RestingGrinchFace Mon 11-Dec-17 22:53:26

I would just buy sonething more expensive for him and give it to your mother to present to him as a gift. But be warned-manipulative people hate being out smarted-he may have stroke.

Lockheart Mon 11-Dec-17 22:57:38

If you'd like to lend me several thousand pounds, I'll will do just that, and I'll video it and post the link! Sadly I don't have the money; neither do my parents to be honest as they're saving like mad for retirement, or at least my DM is trying to! My father is not well and will likely not be able to work for much longer, and will also likely need care in the future, hence the trying to save and not spending money on things they don't need.

FannyWisdom Mon 11-Dec-17 23:00:20

Just tell her.

steppemum Mon 11-Dec-17 23:06:03

tell your mum.
Tell your Dad that he is going to upset your Mum, and that is a nasty thing to do, why would he do that?
Tell him by text or email if you can't say it in person.

SleepingStandingUp Mon 11-Dec-17 23:06:12

I'd be tempted to tell her once Dad has confirmed he has bought them

bluescreen Mon 11-Dec-17 23:11:57

You are concerned about the manipulative nature of this gift - though you're not 100% sure about that. (I think you are, though.) You are anxious about raising it with your father for all sorts of reasons. Not least the fact that pretty well anyone would go ballistic (or at least mega pissed-off) if someone queried their motives for a gift.

Unless you are prepared to have that discussion with your father - who would? - I don't think you can second-guess anything. By the same token, I don't see how you'd become complicit in whatever strange motives he may have. So if he asks you to pick them up, do it. If you don't, you'll have pissed off your DF - and your DB will pick them up anyway.

Your reasons for refusing won't work on a practical level because your DF will ensure your DM gets them anyway. You may be able to salve your conscience, but only at the expense of a worsened relationship with your DF, which isn't likely to improve your DM's situation one iota - and isn't her welfare your primary concern?

It sounds as if your DM needs a lot of support. But fiddling about with this Christmas present doesn't seem to be the best way of achieving that. Speaking to her more directly about things might help.

onemorecupofcoffeefortheroad Mon 11-Dec-17 23:15:07

Ouch difficult - trying to keep both parents happy - not fair that you are being put in this position. If you do x one parent unhappy and alternatively you do y then other parent unhappy. So wrong.

Your parents need to sort their own shitty relationship out - it's not your job. If it were me I'd probably do what your Dad asks of you but tell Mum why I was doing it - presumably for the same reason she's not leaving him or standing up to him - he's dogmatic and 'in charge' and you find it hard to stand up to him in the same way that she does.

Lockheart Mon 11-Dec-17 23:25:29

bluescreen we have spoken about this many times in the past, in great detail. This "fiddling about with a Christmas present" is just another small incident in a long line of them that I was hoping to head off at the pass.

I actually asked her this weekend what she would want me to do if my partner was treating me like my father treats her (to which she just says "I know, I know!"). She just almost brushes it off. She doesn't want to be seen as "the heartless bitch who leaves a sick man in the lurch" (her words), and to be honest I also think she's scared to leave. He has sabotaged her attempts to restart a career before and she is currently struggling to find a job. I think if she had a good full-time job then she would be a lot happier and perhaps able to see a way forward.

I think I will have to warn her that he's thinking of doing this, and just hope it doesn't cause huge problems for her like it normally does sad

LadyLapsang Mon 11-Dec-17 23:27:28

Just give you mum the heads up.

TattyCat Mon 11-Dec-17 23:35:20

You are not responsible for your parents emotions or relationship and they shouldn't be dragging you into it.

Been there. Done that. Extricate yourself from this situation before it's too late and you end up feeling wholly responsible for the emotional wellbeing of one parent or the other and acting as a go-between. It's not healthy.

One or other of your parents will be at any given time, manipulating you for their own gain. Sorry, but that's the harsh truth if you are being firmly planted in the middle of them in this way.

bluescreen Mon 11-Dec-17 23:38:21

Glad to hear she's talking to you about things. In which case you can talk to her about how to handle the earrings. It's only fair to warn her - though how you head off DF at the pass is another matter. He may be unstoppable, and there may be better hills to die on. Focusing on a job and independence sounds like a really sensible practical way to go. Best of luck with it.

My hunch is that the earrings are merely a symptom, significant as they are, best not fought over.

bluescreen Mon 11-Dec-17 23:47:55

I'm assuming from your post - though some others aren't - that your primary loyalty here is with your mother, who's earned it in the face of your father's unreasonable behaviour. Not believing that your DM is manipulating you!

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 11-Dec-17 23:56:24

1. He is going to do it. He is doing it to be a bully. Don't help him, even if others will help him.

2. He is going to do it. He is doing it to be a bully. Don't let your mother walk in to the Christmas morning trap unawares. Warn her, even if you can't see how she can stop it.

Lockheart Mon 11-Dec-17 23:58:27

blue you would be correct in assuming that, however my DM is not perfect and despite all his faults, I love my father and would not want to see him hurt. That said, he was largely absent throughout my childhood (always at work) and was more of an ogre figure. It crystallised more when I was a teenager and woke up a bit more to the balance of power and so forth in the house (this wasn't anything to do with me in particular - I skipped over the rebellious and hormonal phase and by all accounts was an easy teen wink but I became more aware of what was happening). So it is not surprising that I am much closer to my DM. I also regularly see my father's bad behaviour towards her, and I am also aware that what I see is not the worst of it.

It's true (as Tatty says) that I am too involved - my DM leans quite heavily on me emotionally. Even she says she shouldn't be saying these things about my father to me, but she carries on. Like I said above, she's not perfect. But I would feel like I was abandoning her if I told her I didn't want to listen to her problems any more sad

RunRabbitRunRabbit Mon 11-Dec-17 23:59:40

It is inappropriate for your mother to be talking to you about how unhappy she is with your dad.

Maybe you encourage it because it is easier to put your focus onto telling her what to do than to break from your father yourself.

Have you heard of codependency? I bet you've got it in spades.

RunRabbitRunRabbit Tue 12-Dec-17 00:02:52

My parents split after I refused to be the emotional vent anymore. It isn't a bad thing to make her face up to it being her choice.

Do you not see that she is being abusive by doing this this emotional dumping on you?

Shankarankalina Tue 12-Dec-17 00:04:57

Your dad has to a degree been seeking your endorsement. This is done so he can validate his decision, but it does give you an opportunity to intervene. Have you the chance to say 'dad, if you are asking my opinion, this is a bad move'?

Mummyoflittledragon Tue 12-Dec-17 00:37:05

You know this situation is beyond inappropriate. Your mother would probably be more likely to leave if you stopped being her emotional crutch. As is, she has her needs met in a funny kind of way. Her financial ones from your father. And her emotional ones from you. This is a really rubbish situation and you are a complete pawn with your father also ensuring you are stuck in the middle. A pp was right in saying they’re both manipulating you.

How would it feel if you were just able to get on with you life?

bluescreen Tue 12-Dec-17 00:44:37

Shankarankalina Your dad has to a degree been seeking your endorsement. This is done so he can validate his decision, but it does give you an opportunity to intervene. Have you the chance to say 'dad, if you are asking my opinion, this is a bad move'?
Good point. It sounds as you want to maintain good relations with your DF and perhaps this gives an opportunity. But only if you're prepared to risk going there. I can imagine all hell breaking loose but maybe that's ridiculous. OTOH, if he was always going to be calm and reasonable, maybe you wouldn't be posting here in the first place?

But also what Tattycat says is helpful: to avoid being responsible for anyone's emotions. I was kind of naively assuming you and DM had an equal relationship but that may not be so AT ALL. You will know. Or at least, will have a hunch.

Good luck, and don't let the OBs push you around. flowers

Zaphodsotherhead Tue 12-Dec-17 10:06:14

Can you not let your DF buy and give the earrings to your mother (keeping the receipt) and then help DM to return them to the shop? Everyone's happy, he's made the Grand Gesture and she's got the money back...

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