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Should I send my niece a birthday present.

(23 Posts)
whatdayisit Wed 09-Jul-08 14:48:12

This is DH's sister's daughter and she will be 11.

We haven't seen DH's parents for 4 years, although I do send them photos of DC's and birthday/Christmas cards, DH will have nothing to do with them. Whilst I am sad our DC's don't know their Grandparents, I understand DH's reasons and it is true that life is a lot easier without them.

SIL also has a difficult relationship with their parents, but ,as far as a know is on speaking terms, although there have been long spells when they weren't. SIL can also be difficult to get along with and was particularly unpleasant to me about our wedding, but that was a long time ago and in the name of the family, I've done my best to get along.

Until last year, we sent pressies/cards etc and met up about once a year (not local). This Christmas we exchanged gifts by mail and I sent the usual thank yous, but heard nothing from them. Didn't really think much of it, maybe they've been busy/it got lost etc, but since then, DH, I and our 2 DC's have all had birthdays with not so much as a card. I really don't know what happened to change things and DH won't phone her, he says "sod the lot of 'em"

so, 2 issues

1) I'd love to know what we've done

2) I was going to send a Chart compilation CD for niece. I'd usually spend a bit more, but not really in the mood. DH says I should send nothing. I say not the child's fault and this way we take the high moral ground.

What do wise mumsnetters think?

mumblechum Wed 09-Jul-08 14:49:22

I'd send her a present if that's what you usually do. Not her battle, after all.

sophiewd Wed 09-Jul-08 14:50:18

Send her a present, it is not her fault.

Jux Wed 09-Jul-08 15:09:55

Send it to her.

chrysantheMum Wed 09-Jul-08 15:11:35

send it

or send a card with a voucher if don't want to buy anything specific

whatdayisit Wed 09-Jul-08 15:57:15

Thanks everyone. I look forward to telling DH I was right.

Just out of interest, what would you have said if it was SIL's birthday?

Flier Wed 09-Jul-08 16:02:10

SIL's birthday, send a card and put in it "Hope you're all well, how time flies, we must try to meet up sometime this year, keep in touch, X xxx"

Lizzylou Wed 09-Jul-08 16:09:20

I'd say send present, for niece and SIL. As you say, you don't think anything has happened to warrant ignoring birthdays.

I prob wouldn't do it myself as am tightwad and vindictive, but pretending to be a nice person wink

GrapefruitMoon Wed 09-Jul-08 16:22:35

i always send a Birthday and Christmas present to my nephew and a birthday card to my brother even though they don't reciprocate (long story, but we haven't fallen out exactly). I hope one day I'll get to meet my nephew and I hope he is shown the photos of my dcs that I send every so often so knows he has family here that he has never met...

Elkat Wed 09-Jul-08 19:54:28

I personally wouldn't... not because I would be being vindictive, but if they can't send a thank you for the presents or remember your DCs birthdays, then to me they are saying that they do not want to have you involved in their lives any more. Sorry if that sounds harsh - but it looks like they are cutting you out... so I would probably accept that decision and not bother either, given that you're not likely to change things, but be willing to discuss the issues if they do decide they do want to make the effort in the future.

whatdayisit Wed 09-Jul-08 21:12:30

I know Elkat, that's where DH is coming from, but doesn't that make me as bad as her? I kind of think, at least if I keep sending them, no-one can say I didn't, but I do realise that's not really the right sentiment for gift giving.

2rebecca Wed 09-Jul-08 21:30:06

I wouldn't if they aren't. I also wouldn't because as it's husband's family I would feel I was interfering. Generally he buys stuff for his half of the family and I buy for mine, we both know our own relies better than the other. Maybe different if you're a woman who doesn't work but I've never understood why so many women let their men wimp out of present buying and take it all on.
His sister's daughter he deicdes what to do about present.
I'll buy it if it's more convenient but I expect him to keep track of when the birthday is, how old she is etc.
If it was my sister's daughter I would be on the phone to my sister asking what had happened and whether she no longer wished us to buy presents etc.
If husband's sister I'd expect him to sort it out and wouldn't want to be seen as interfering.

roquefort Wed 09-Jul-08 21:36:55

Maybe compromise and just send a card? That way you are taking the high moral ground and letting your niece know that you have remembered without feeling that you are being taken for a ride.

kd73 Wed 09-Jul-08 21:42:09

I think you should continue to buy gifts.

My dp and I stopped buying gifts for his brother and sister in law & children after a) they refused to acknowledge me as part of the family (despite the fact that we had owned a property together for 5+yrs)
b) they never bought me a gift or b'day card (citing he buys for his family, I buy for mine - but your not actually family are you)
c) DP was invited alone to b'day parties as I am not family
d) any gifts (which I bought) were NEVER acknowledged.

5 yrs on, I am painted as the wicked witch of the west, with the brother and SIL taking the moral highground of "well they don't even acknowledge our children".

If it is 1 niece, stick to £10 limit - its only once a year and will cause a lot less hassle in the end.

MrsMacaroon Thu 10-Jul-08 01:01:38

in similar situation and planning to buy nephew a present even though his parents are fuckwits.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 10-Jul-08 07:09:32


I could possibly answer your two questions put by saying 1. You haven't personally done anything wrong, these people are being difficult and 2. Its not just about taking a higher moral stand.

It is a difficult situation for you as well as this is your husband's family. I can see why you want to send presents (because you want to be nice and these are your relations by marriage) but your efforts are clearly not being reciprocated. For those reasons, I would not send a gift, perhaps just a card (but what may eventually happen is that such items get returned).

Unfortunately you cannot yourself easily change the course of family dysfunction. This has affected both your DH and his sister in different ways.

It is very difficult for people who don't come from "toxic" families to see the realities of what it was like so I do not criticise you at all for wanting to send a gift to this young lady.

Your husband for whatever reasons (and they are often good ones) decided to cut them all out. I think you need to discuss with your DH exactly what happened to make him cut himself off from your SIL. Its all very well telling you "sod the lot of 'em" but it does not give you the full answer. Decisions to cut ties are not taken lightly, he does feels happier as a result for not having contact with his own parents. Its likely now he feels the same about your SIL.

theressomethingaboutmarie Thu 10-Jul-08 08:22:45

I'd have a conversation with your DH. Tell him that it really isn't your nieces fault that her parents don't appear to be particularly kind to you. Take the moral high ground and imagine how delighted she will be to recieve the gift. Your conscience will be clear.

whatdayisit Thu 10-Jul-08 21:57:30

Thanks again everyone. I know exactly why DH cut them out, it was basically because they were horrible to me (and "they're not treating my wife like that") but also because we always felt like we were treading on eggshells, it was always only a matter of time before we did something to upset them. When DS1 was born, 4 days before mother's day, I was quite pleased with myself to buy and send cards to both our mothers. As I was always so careful to make everything between the 2 families "fair", I bought 2 from the same range and they were small, but tasteful(I thought). My mum was thrilled that I'd managed it just out of hospital, MIL phoned to rant at DH that it was so small we shouldn't bother at all next time shock I wouldn't describe them as toxic exactly, DH has very happy childhood memories, but they seem to think they are "owed" for all the sacrifices they made to bring them up. They would complain they didn't see enough of DC's, but also complain if we asked them to babysit, that we were just using them. Then when I invited MIL over to spend an afternoon with me & DC's she delayed arrival 2 hours because Neighbours was "exciting" that week. We could never get it right.

I doubt niece be delighted at all and I don't expect a thank you (very spoiled only child and grandchild to both sets, seen as mine don't count anymore).

It's very odd, as I really don't know what changed between Christmas and DH's birthday, which was only a few days later. I'm going to send the CD, then at least no-one can complain that I didn't.

MrsMargolyes Fri 11-Jul-08 01:08:19

I think it's lovely of you to send your niece the cd.

Regardless of these numpties in dh's family.

2rebecca Fri 11-Jul-08 12:16:27

Why isn't your husband buying his mum a mothers day card? She's not your mum. I do find this odd. Do other women buy their husband's mother's day cards for them?

whatdayisit Fri 11-Jul-08 20:39:51

2rebecca - If I left it to him, none of his family would have had cards since we got married, even when they were speaking, he just wouldn't have bothered. I've done it, because in their family the wife deals with all social correspondence (and mine actually) so if one wasn't sent, it would have been me, rather than him who had failed to send it IYSWIM.

2rebecca Sun 13-Jul-08 11:21:20

I suppose I feel that if when my son gets married his wife chooses and sends a mothers day card it would be meaningless as I am not her mother. I'd rather have the honesty of him just forgetting or not bothering to be honest than feel that choosing a card for me was a chore delegated to someone else.

whatdayisit Sun 13-Jul-08 12:11:09

You're absolutely right 2, but I know that it will be me that's "blamed" for one not being sent, so I've sent them to try and keep the peace. Not that it worked.....

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