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Should I continue to send gifts to dsd?

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I realize that I don't have the best disposition when it comes to this question. So I need some outside advice...

Here's the situation. DSD lives three states away from us, she will turn 14 this Spring. There is a custody/child support, etc agreement. However, all that we "get" to do anymore is pay. Pay child support, pay for her insurance that does not get used, pay for medical/dental/orthodontal costs that the insurance doesn't cover, which we do. There are no regular visits. It's just too far for regular drives, her mother won't allow flying, which we couldn't afford anyway. So we don't see her but once or twice a year by the sheer coincidence of her being in town for visiting her mother's side of the family. (We had the regular eow, summer, etc until four years ago when her mother decided to move, but no more.)

So, when holidays, as in Christmas and occasions like her birthday come around, I have been the one to put my brain power to work to come up with a nice present to send to the child. Which I have done. However, I have to put delivery confirmations on the packages b/c we never hear anything back on whether she even received it. Forget whether she liked it or not. Or even a thank you.

(In case anyone is wondering, if I don't do the gift shopping/getting ready/sending, etc. there is no gift. Tried that, dh somehow won't get his rear in gear for that. So I started doing it, with the described results.)

Christmas came and went, all I know the package got there, no more. Dh is in semi-regular contact with his daughter via texting. So she can use those fingers with great dexterity. So she's getting to be a regular teenager.

I'm hitting a point where I don't want to send anything anymore. Mainly b/c I'm not getting even a related simple "TY" from dsd. I don't want her to think that her dad doesn't think about her anymore, which he obiviously does, but it really gets to me that she doesn't acknowledge that she even got anything from him/us... And I hate the idea of making him ask her if she got her present and if she liked it, just to get some response out of her. I think she's plenty old enough to display some decent manners and thank people who send her presents for them. Am I wrong? Wwyd?

What brings this up is that we got her a magazine subscription to "New Moon" magazine (among a few other things) for her bday last year, and the renewal notice came in the mail. I asked dh if he saw any point in renewing it. He texted dsd and she said something back about getting only one issue. Granted they moved in the past year, but somewhere in there that's not my job anymore to make sure her mail gets forwarded, plus, she should have gotten five or six issues over the past year. So someone's not telling the truth, or passing the mail to the appropriate person. (Would a mother really do something like that, though? Not giving her child the present that her dad sent for the kid's birthday? Ok, so I don't put anything past this woman, but...)

Anyway, so I'm getting a little riled about the coming bday and not wanting to put any effort into it for her since there's simply no acknowledgement for ANYTHING. I understand that she's turning into a teenager and any and all presents will probably be considered "yucky" or "childish," so I don't expect her to be grateful. Not gonna happen. But simple good manners?

And then, if I do quit doing this, is there some way to let her know that she won't be getting any more from us b/c she can't seem to send a simple "thank you" our way? Really, I personally don't need a "thank you" - if all she did was text her dad, so dh, a "TY" - I'd be happy, but that hasn't happened, either.

Or do I just send a card and nothing else and allude to that somehow?

Help. I know I'm bitter, so I need to know what the right thing to do is!
post #2 of 35
It sounds to me like this is a discipline/teaching issue for her dad, not you. Even without that, fourteen is old enough to understand that common courtesy requires a thank you or some other acknowledgement. It's also old enough to be incredibly ungracious.

If it were me, I'd share my feelings with dh and let him know I really didn't want to keep sending presents into a black hole, that it didn't feel good at all to do, and that I had no plans to keep doing it. And that if he wanted to talk to his daughter about that, it was up to him.

If it were an 8-year-old, I'd worry more. But with a girl that age...no, I wouldn't worry. I'd just stop, and if questions came back about it, I'd explain the rudeness problems.

Fwiw, in the rush of everything, I still sometimes forget to tell my grandma we got a gift check and thank her for it. She has no compunction about asking, and then of course I'm embarrassed. Which is fine.
post #3 of 35
Well, I suppose you have to ask yourself why exactly you are doing it. If it is genuinely for her, then whether or not she says thank you (although I totally agree that she should) is really besides the point. The behavior is terrible, but you shouldn't give gifts to get a thank you. Does that make sense? Give it because you want to.

If you are giving it to make sure that she does not feel forgotten my her dad, I would say that her dad really needs to pick up the slack. I think an honest conversation with him about how you feel, like you have stated here, would be the best thing. I doubt he would have any issue asking her about a gift that was sent if he was the one that actually sent it. It just seems you are being taken for granted by both of them. Sorry...
post #4 of 35
I think the right thing to do is keep sending presents. Don't give the gift for any reason other than love. Hard, I know. Teens can really push our buttons, huh? Just remember that what you do now will make a difference later on. The love you put into the relationship now, will show later on.

If you want to know if she received her gift, ask her. Have dh send her a text saying "did you get the xxx we sent you? We just knew you'd love it." Sometimes as parents you don't just have to take the extra step, you have to take the extra 290 steps, yk?

And if all else fails, then send her thank you stationary for her next gift
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by awood11 View Post
I think the right thing to do is keep sending presents. Don't give the gift for any reason other than love. Hard, I know. Teens can really push our buttons, huh? Just remember that what you do now will make a difference later on. The love you put into the relationship now, will show later on.

If you want to know if she received her gift, ask her. Have dh send her a text saying "did you get the xxx we sent you? We just knew you'd love it." Sometimes as parents you don't just have to take the extra step, you have to take the extra 290 steps, yk?

And if all else fails, then send her thank you stationary for her next gift
This, exactly.
post #6 of 35
I think she's acting like a young person who hasn't been taught manners about thank you's...she doesn't understand all that goes into giving her gifts but this is a good opportunity for her Dad to teach her. When you send her a gift for her birthday then have him follow up and ask her if she got it. He could be asking her what she wants for her birthday-- partly for ideas for the gift but also to get to know her and what she's into. Then he could follow up. Like you said, this could all be done by email or texts or he could call her. She is old enough to say thank you but only if she's been raised that way...there is no way she understands what you do and the whole situation of how you guys feel. Don't expect her to right now but someday she probably will.

Try to be patient with her. It is likely to feel like her Dad's forgotten or doesn't care if she stops getting gift. Some teenagers see gifts as love...it's up to parents to help them see that gifts are just one expression of love and caring and there are so many others (acts of service, words of affection, etc.)
post #7 of 35
I think Dad needs to teach her about how to graciously receive gifts. Yes, she "should" be old enough, but has she ever been taught? When I got married, I had a 14 year old relative in my wedding. She was a bridesmaid, I involved her in lots of decisions and fun stuff (didn't ask her to do any "duties," and she didn't offer, or end up doing anything), bought her a gift, got her a discount on the dress, etc. I never got a thanks or a wedding gift. It was pretty annoying, but in retrospect, I realize her entire family has poor manners and she's never been taught. Not an excuse, but a reason.

It's also a pretty self-centered age. Sometimes we have to be explicit about what they have to do.

I hear your frustration.
post #8 of 35
Honestly...I am horrible with thank you's but always AM very grateful when I receive a gift. :

I would continue to send things for your daughter. I am sure that it touches her to be thought of.
post #9 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by awood11 View Post
And if all else fails, then send her thank you stationary for her next gift
I like that idea!

Thank you all of you for the replies. I really appreciate it. To answer some questions -

I do the gift sending b/c I don't want her to think that dad has forgotten her, not b/c I'm out for glory. But when nobody gets any response for anything, it really irks me. I also don't tend to get much from dh about all this. He may thank me for doing this when I point it out, other than that, even he takes it for granted.

I also agree that I need to talk to dh about this. That this really gets to me that it all gets taken for granted and that this "teachable moment" for giving thanks is really up to him.

Now...how on earth does he tell her that good manners dictate that you at least acknowledge birthday, etc gifts if all he ever really does is text with her? But I suppose that's up to him.

I also tend to think that at least from her family, she has probably never learned that it is proper to give thanks where and when they are due...there is a long list of "oh, this is my baby, she doesn't/shouldn't/can't do this/that/the other"...so it's not really surprising, I guess.

I know she doesn't know what all goes into getting a gift together and getting it to her. She won't learn that lesson until much later, if ever.

So, for now, I'm noting that I will talk to dh and that the kid will get thank you notes for her next gift...

But keep 'em coming. I knew you guys would be a good objective and understanding crowd with different perspectives on this! TY!!!
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToastyToes View Post
It's also a pretty self-centered age. Sometimes we have to be explicit about what they have to do.
Totally.

This morning in synagogue I took my 5-yo into the library for a little while to talk about responding politely when an adult says "Shabbat shalom" and extends a hand for a handshake. Her normal mode is to stare at them and then pass by, or, if a hand's put out, to squirm away. She's much too old for that. Turns out she's scared of how hard grownups squeeze her hand, which I can understand. Also turned out she didn't understand that you can't cold-shoulder people without hurting their feelings. So we worked out a reasonably polite response appropriate for a child her age, and practiced it. ("Shabbat shalom. Thanks but I don't really like to shake." While looking the person in the eye.) Eventually she's going to have to get over the fear-of-squeeze problem, but for now it'll do. It'll also turn "teach GR's kid how to shake hands" into a community game, but that's another story.

I expect to have to reinforce these kinds of things till she's 30. Your dsd's dad really does need to be riding her butt about these things; it's part of parenting. In response to "I only got one issue", he could say, "Did you remember to thank your SM for it?" You could appeal to his business sense, too; people who are offhand with employers or don't send thank you's after interviews don't usually do too well in competition with polite young people.
post #11 of 35
I want to come at this from a different angle. When I grew up, I barely saw my father and he acted pretty disinterested in me. He had a long-time gf who would send me cards and gifts. It really bothered me and kind of hurt. It's hard to explain, but those gifts were a reminder that he had forgotten me. She was sending the gifts, not him. His signature was never on the cards or checks and his thoughts weren't in the gifts. I wanted a connection with him, not a reminder that someone else, who had no connection to me thought more of me than him.

I know, it's complicated and maybe she doesn't feel that way, but maybe she does. Just another thing to consider. Your husband really should put in the effort, otherwise, the gifts might be bring more of a feeling of rejection than anything else, regardless of whether she likes the gifts. If anything, make sure the gifts bring a connection to him through at least a note in his own handwriting.

Lisa
post #12 of 35
It is possible, too, that maybe she feels rejected in a sense -- even if she *knows* the details surrounding why she doesn't visit you guys, she may feel rejected anyway, that you don't try to move mountains to see her, yk? I agree with chaoticzenmom that her dad should be more invested in the giving of the gifts, even if you have to do all the work to make it look like he is the one sending it -- it's really hard on kids to have divorced parents, even when they act like it's no big deal. there is always pain somewhere in there, and the early teen years are especially rough.

so I say keep sending the gifts -- trying to maintain this connection through the teen years will pay off later. I would also have a big talk with your dh about just mentioning to her that she should at least let you guys know that she received the gift -- for sure asking ahead of time what kind of things she would like for xmas or b-days would be good too, to open up the lines of communication about gifts. I've always felt awkward receiving gifts, and find it hard to say thank you, so maybe she's just kind of shy about it. I would assume the best of her, and trust that the gift is important to her, regardless of what it is.
post #13 of 35
i understand where you are coming from. i really do.

but here is a thought....what do you want to leave behind? your legacy, nonmonetary, so to speak. sending these gifts is a caring, loving thing....why do you do it? do you do it b/c you want your dsd to feel loved by you and her father? if that is the reason, there is no reason to cease sending the gifts. or do you send them b/c you want acknowledgment? that you want someone to tell you how great you are for taking the time to go shopping for them and sending them, etc. etc.? if that is the reason, and you arent getting that, then i guess the answer is to stop doing it..since you arent getting what you want from the process.

i dont say this to be mean...i really dont. but in a few years, your dsd is going to be 18...she is going to know that her dad (and you) sent gifts, etc. etc. And whatever he is or is not being taught by his mother (not sending thank you cards, etc. etc. ) can be reversed.

i understand the annoyance at having to do all the holiday shopping. its like that here also (no SC though but still i have to shop for his family..or he will do it on xmas eve and it will cost us 3x as much).

its sad that your dsd's mom doesnt feel its important to teach her child the value of a thank you card. but like i said earlier, you can certainly address that at a later date.

sounds like your dh needs to step up to the plate on communication w/ his dd though. even if the mom is not teaching important lessons, he is still her father...even if far away.
post #14 of 35
I have no insight into the blended family aspect, but at some point I started sending self addressed, stamped postcards with gifts to my neices and nephews, with love and a big smiley face. That would have to be in your dh's handwriting, though for sure.
post #15 of 35
As a mom to two kids who barely ever see or hear from their dad, all I want to say is that non-custodial parents who live a great distance away are usually not actively parenting their kids. It's nearly impossible to be connected enough to guide a child in that situation; especially with a teenager.

(And I'm sure my ex-H also feels like all he ever gets to do is pay, but that's not my problem. He's the one who left us, knowing that the Navy was going to send him here, there, and everywhere.)

When he does see or talk to the kids, it's all about "fun." I can't imagine that he'd even bother with trying to teach them about something like thank-you notes. As for the OP's DH....I seriously doubt that a guy who can't be bothered to buy his own daughter a gift once or twice a year would be concerned with the girl's manners involving receipt of the gift.
post #16 of 35
keep up the gifts, if she gets them she must enjoy them but try to go visit her and hand them over in person.

my ex's stepmom was wonderful about gifts, (it didn't go unnoticed but who knows how many thank-yous were mailed to her)
post #17 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post
I want to come at this from a different angle. When I grew up, I barely saw my father and he acted pretty disinterested in me. He had a long-time gf who would send me cards and gifts. It really bothered me and kind of hurt. It's hard to explain, but those gifts were a reminder that he had forgotten me. She was sending the gifts, not him. His signature was never on the cards or checks and his thoughts weren't in the gifts. I wanted a connection with him, not a reminder that someone else, who had no connection to me thought more of me than him.

I know, it's complicated and maybe she doesn't feel that way, but maybe she does. Just another thing to consider. Your husband really should put in the effort, otherwise, the gifts might be bring more of a feeling of rejection than anything else, regardless of whether she likes the gifts. If anything, make sure the gifts bring a connection to him through at least a note in his own handwriting.

Lisa
this!!!
post #18 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chaoticzenmom View Post
I want to come at this from a different angle. When I grew up, I barely saw my father and he acted pretty disinterested in me. He had a long-time gf who would send me cards and gifts. It really bothered me and kind of hurt. It's hard to explain, but those gifts were a reminder that he had forgotten me. She was sending the gifts, not him. His signature was never on the cards or checks and his thoughts weren't in the gifts. I wanted a connection with him, not a reminder that someone else, who had no connection to me thought more of me than him.

I know, it's complicated and maybe she doesn't feel that way, but maybe she does. Just another thing to consider. Your husband really should put in the effort, otherwise, the gifts might be bring more of a feeling of rejection than anything else, regardless of whether she likes the gifts. If anything, make sure the gifts bring a connection to him through at least a note in his own handwriting.

Lisa

Thank you for the input. I can see that what you went through caused you great pain. I will say that the cards that are sent ALWAYS have dh's signature in them. He signs them first. I do underneath him. And her step-brothers names are always in the cards as well. (They were/are really almost both too young to sign their names themselves.) So I do my very best to make it look like the gifts come from him.

That's the intent, for dsd to know that her dad thinks about her. Like I said before, I'm not out for glory for myself. I just feel used and taken for granted. And I wanted to know whether I had a right to feel that way. And what to reasonably do from here on out.

Now...to get to 2xy. Please don't take what I'm going to say the wrong way. I see a lot of hurt in your response as well. Whenever I used to bring up anything at all about dsd or her behavior or anything that came with her to dh, his response was something along the lines of "I can't do anything. Nothing. Dsd doesn't live with me, I don't get to do/say/have any influence over how she is brought up. We can try while she is with us (as in when it was eow and summers), but when it comes to her mother's house, I have zero influence." And he certainly was right. No matter what he said, how he said it, once dsd left our house, anything we (heck, forget me, dh!) tried to instill went right out the window. It's like he didn't count. So he has more or less given up. That's why I don't see how he can possibly instill anything in her on some sort of good manners when it comes to even acknowledging that there is something coming from him for gifts.

When she did stay with us, we did have rules and got to teach her some things we felt were important, but that left when she left the house. Also, it was her mother who moved her away for seemingly no good reason from her dad, from all of her family. There are no good reasonable dealings with her mother. It's just impossible. That's why this is also so frustrating. It's not like dh could get the mother to help. She's never been receptive. Her way or the highway. So, I'm sorry to be so negative on that end 2xy, but we get the other side of that. Not to diminish what you must be going through.

And, I tend to think that graciously receiving gifts is something someone learns while they are young, not after they turn 18... No 18-year-old I ever knew wanted to know from any relative, or parent what the right and proper thing to do was...

And I have asked dsd, or have had dh ask what she wanted/would like to receive for gift. The responses haven't been very helpful... so I try my best to come up with something a girl of her age might want. I was a girl once, after all

Again, will talk with dh. Will see if he can attempt some follow up. Will have to see what he says about this.
post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprucen View Post


Now...how on earth does he tell her that good manners dictate that you at least acknowledge birthday, etc gifts if all he ever really does is text with her? But I suppose that's up to him.
Argh, that's hard. Sounds like there's not much parenting going on. First off, you've been doing a very nice thing by keeping up the gifts. Secondly, I imagine he could say "Did you get the gft? We like to hear if u get them to know it didn't get lost" Maybe?
post #20 of 35
I'm not sure if this would be the "right" answer, but I'd keep up with the gifts simply because I'd want to show my stepdaughter that I didn't give up on her and (we are in a volitile situation with her Mother) that, if she ever comes to us saying that we never sent her anything, we can say, yes we did, we sent you this and this and this and this, didn't you get them?
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