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I give up (a gift-giving rant).

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
We've determined we will never, ever live up to Mom and Mom's family in the gift-giving department.

Why? We don't do the piles-of-presents thing.

Mom's family does.

We get a few good items, and an experience. (This year, it was some art stuff and a trip to see the Nutcracker.) Both sets of grandparents on this side are similar. (Both my husband and I were raised similarly. We were far from deprived--his parents were affluent, mine were less so but still comfortable--but we didn't get every wish fulfilled at Christmas/Hanukkah.)

SD went to her maternal grandparents for Christmas, and they got her, among other things, the entire Girl Gourmet line, a portable DVD player, five or six DS games, and some other stuff.

Mom got her a bunch of plastic stuff. Basically everything on her "list" (Mom was relatively poor growing up--her dad overcompensates now--and doesn't want SD to experience the disappointment she did on Christmas, which to a point I understand). (SD's mom has, in years past, asked my husband why we didn't do more for Christmas--she sacrificed and scrimped all year so her daughter could have a magical Christmas and we could easily spend $$$ on a bunch of presents without even noticing, so why don't we? Um, first, MYOB, and second, we value quality over quantity, experiences over stuff.)

We had SD for new year, not Christmas, so we did gifts this week.

She opened her stuff, then slammed it down, said "that's it?" and whined about missing her mom and her mom's family and being "lucky" over there. (She's got an entire room full of stuff she doesn't play with here. She is not deprived.)

Ugh. I'm just tempted to pack up the whole lot and donate it to kids who don't have anything. Maybe take her to volunteer at a soup kitchen next year.

I don't want to just start the piles of plastic presents thing, especially with a new LO.

Are we just resigned to a pouting, whiny, ungrateful child every Christmas and birthday? What do you do when you will never measure up to the other side of the family (and don't particularly want to)?
post #2 of 17
We don't get exactly the same reaction, but definitely have gotten similar attitude: "I have this already at my mom's" & "I have a better one of these at my mom's"

Last Christmas I remember one of us telling her that if she didn't like her presents we could certainly bring them back to the store... We've also said that it isn't much fun to get her things when she never seems to appreciate what she got. When it is a duplicate/similar item, we say "now you are lucky to have one at both houses."

Long-term, I think the best responses are teaching about being kind and polite in response to gifts, and talking about the thought that goes into choosing gifts. In the short term, I know that when we offered to take all her gifts back, it was the last time we heard that she had something better at her mom's.

We are lucky enough that both houses seem to have similar attitudes toward gift-giving. We also are lucky in that some (perfectly age-appropriate) items that we allow are contraband at mom's, so we do have a couple things that we always know she'll be excited to get here. The same is true at mom's house. It seems like we might also be developing a couple things that are her "mom's house thing" (like American Girl Doll stuff) and things that are a "dad's house thing" (like horses) just because of relatives and extracurriculars that she does in one place and not the other.

I don't know if that was helpful... FWIW, I think next year doing something like "adopting" a family with kids to shop for is a great way to help kids start to appreciate the fact that they get any presents at all...
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks, aricha, that is helpful.

I think pregnancy is compounding my utter impatience with this whole thing (utter impatience with everything, actually)...as is my stepdaughter's hitting a very draining "mom is better and can do no wrong" phase (which I get is normal, but that doesn't make it any less draining). I'm actually half-expecting her to respond calmly to reports of me being pregnant with, "well, that's OK, I'm just not going to come here anymore once the baby's here."
post #4 of 17
Being mature and adult is so annoying when kids are acting like trolls. I think the best thing to do is state calmly that rude, selfish words/behavior are hurtful and you are sorry she is behaving that way and move on. As she gets older you can escalate that to consequences for the behavior. I don't think doing good works is a bad idea at any age though and can help with attitude...don't get too disappointed if it doesn't though. I try to tell my dh (the stepfather) that if you let rude kids ruin your day you are giving up all control over how your life feels. Kids are sometimes rude just to try out different words. My 12 year old does ruin my day sometimes no matter how hard I work to let it go.
post #5 of 17
I've resolved not to go overboard with Christmas. This year we had a limited budget, yet the best Christmas ever.

I DO want to spoil dsd, but I know it does no good. I understand very well where you are coming from. I hate seeing how some kids can never be satisfied, and it hurts to admit dsd has been that kid.

BUT! Here is what I think... I think as long as you practice what you preach, treat dsd the same way you will your own child (congrats again btw!), AND explain to your dsd where you are coming from - it will be okay. Talk about what's important for Christmas, talk about why you don't believe in overindulgence, talk about importance of giving vs. getting, set the example, be patient, call her on being rude, talk about appreciation, congratulate her on getting her wish-list at her mom's, and just love and try to move on.

You know how much "my mom is so great!!" I've been listening to this year from dsd? She got a more "rich" christmas over there this year for sure, as well. Yet, I just walked into dsd's room, and the six line poem I wrote for her for Christmas is in a frame.

It doesn't happen overnight, and remember, even if it doesn't seem so, she doesn't take just after her mom, she is watching you as well, and she will integrate some of your lessons into her life, even if it seems impossible at the moment.
post #6 of 17
Yeesh. There is so much to say, yet I'm not sure that I exactly know how to say it.

We had a lot of difficulty with presents when DSD was younger - only in the last few months has she become good at the whole thanking-people-no-matter-what thing. Strangely enough, this one has been intuitive to the 2 yo. Maybe he'll change as he gets older, but at this point he was pretty darn excited to open up anything - even clothes. And only recently have we tackled the "the one I have at my mom's is better" thing.

One thing - I am getting to the point where I will just accept that whatever is at her mom's is better. Doesn't matter what it is. The pilly, faded t-shirt reeking of cigarette smoke from her mom's is going to be better than the cute, brand-new shirt here. I get it. Her mom can do no wrong. Sure lady, bring your boyfriend of three weeks to your family Christmas and let that be DSD's first meeting with him with no warning, after your engagement to a man whose children DSD was referring to as her "future brothers" ended in October. Sweet.

We have DSD on Christmas Eve, so Santa comes the night before Christmas Eve. DSD kept calling it "fake Christmas" and Christmas Day (of which she is usually with her mom) as "real Christmas." By the end of the day on Christmas Eve, I was pretty annoyed - there are two other children here who will be forced to celebrate "fake Christmas" instead of "real Christmas" because of her for their entire childhoods - they don't get the additional Christmas on Christmas Day and I would hate for them to spend their entire childhood thinking that their holiday was second-rate. Thank God they are too little to understand what she was saying. So I understand not wanting your DSD's experience to make the experience of your future children less valid.

DH said that although as a parent he doesn't "go off" often, your experience with the gifts would probably warrant it. And he would strongly consider the donation/soup-kitchen route the following year.

I am usually not this negative in my posts - this Christmas holiday was particularly annoying. I'd love to tell you that it gets easier Proto, but I've found that the older my children get, the more I worry that DSD's negativity will ruin their experiences.
post #7 of 17
ProtoLawyer, your post made me smile a bit because I could have written it but just inserted "Dad" for "Mom." Since our son is a bit older, now it is things like inappropriate video games (hello - what person in their right mind buys HALO and Grand Theft Auto for their 13 year old????), iPods w/ $100 iTunes cards, Bakugan, DS games out the wazoo, etc., etc.

You asked
Quote:
What do you do when you will never measure up to the other side of the family (and don't particularly want to)?
I think the key here is just what you said: you don't particularly want to "measure up". I see this as an excellent chance to teach your step-daughter about your values and the yardstick you use to measure the world. You may be able to gently expose her to an entirely new way of thinking about how & why gifts are given, where they come from, and the meaning behind them. She might not act like she cares or is listening right now, but trust me - she is.

I wish parenting of any variety came with an "easy button" but unfortunately it doesn't. I think the key is trying to maintain communication with our children (of any variety) that is based in love and honesty. Easier said than done, I know, especially in a blended family setting.
post #8 of 17
We have a bit of a mix... my ex is better off than I am, and tends to buy the kids one "big ticket" item each year. It's usually something beyond my means, and I think it's really great that he is both able and willing to go there. Last year, they both got laptops. This year #1 got a Kindle and #2 got a good digital camera. As well as some books, clothes, other odds & ends. We're doing Christmas this coming week (Orthodox Christmas) and since money's been tight, they're getting significantly less here.

Luckily, they both understand the situation (they both are, I think, older than the kids you're talking about), and, I think, do understand that it iIS the thought that counts.

#2 showed me the PJs her stepMom bought for her (honestly, not her color choice, ever - pink), and told me that her Dad told her that he told stepMom to bring them back as #2 would NEVER wear them and would ask for the receipt to exchange for something more her style. I was quite proud when I found out that she told her Dad that she would NEVER be so rude as to let on that she wasn't 100% thrilled with a gift given her.

Keep working on it. It does eventually sink in. Most of the time.
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by sostinkinhappy View Post
I see this as an excellent chance to teach your step-daughter about your values and the yardstick you use to measure the world. You may be able to gently expose her to an entirely new way of thinking about how & why gifts are given, where they come from, and the meaning behind them. She might not act like she cares or is listening right now, but trust me - she is.
Agree with this wholeheartedly. DBS is only 19 months old so we haven't hit your situation yet but I'm sure it's coming. We also have an interesting situation because BM lives on public assistance where we are both working professionals however:
-she has a big screen TV and lots of cable channels - we don't do television
-they have Playstations/Wii, etc (she also has a 5 year old) - we won't be buying anything like that until he is much older
We do very minimalist Christmas too.

We have already done museum trips, baby splash classes, baby music classes etc. I'm sure it's going to be challenging at times to overcome the "gimmes" that are bound to occur with children. I also expect (but may be wrong) that BM will expect us to provide some of these things that are outside our value system just because we are the ones with the more comfortable lifestyle.
post #10 of 17
I hear you and it sucks.

I didn't allow DSD's attitude to get to me too much this year though.

We immediately heard all about how she got a real guitar and a real computer at her Mom's house... she looks down right upset in most of the pics that were taken on Christmas.

It will be interesting to explain in a couple years why Santa goes to DSD's house twice and only once for DD.... not sure how we are going to figure that one out yet.

We often hear the "I have this at Mom's house already." Or "this is it?!" and we just explained about being grateful for what you get and being lucky to have two of something she really likes etc...
post #11 of 17
first of all . dont just dont get into it too deep .
well im glad you enjoyed the presents you got
and next year before the holiday, when she comes to visit, help her clear out her toys and stuff, especially emphasize the ones she expressed dislike for this year, as needing to go ,
my kids empty the toy box to make room for santa, and birthdays, and that includes the steps .

lucky for me , our family styles are completely different , so theres not as much friction, lots of reasons , religion being the main stickler

our kids get two holidays , yule and christmas ,
we brought his kids into our holiday traditions, specificlly jammies and coca opened the night before ( this is so present pictures look pleasant , but its a tradiiton)
BM is much more into buying things, and things to keep kids glued to the tv or computer and silent, and im well, im a MDC mom , you figure it out ...

dont be hurt by it , kids always feel one parent has to be "better" i would be willing to bet BM hears about how awesome you are when DSD gets home ..
post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSMa View Post
It will be interesting to explain in a couple years why Santa goes to DSD's house twice and only once for DD.... not sure how we are going to figure that one out yet.
My kids are all very familiar with the concept that "fair" doesn't mean everyone gets exactly the same, "fair" means everyone gets exactly what they need. My step-daughter needs clothes and toys at both houses, so Santa brings toys and clothes to both places. AND, at least in our case, it's not like she has twice as much stuff all at once-- she only ever has half of her stuff with her at any one time.

From the BTDT department, none of my kids, even the sensitive and precocious almost-five year old who has a keen sensitivity for what is and isn't fair, have ever had any issue with their sister's two Christmases or two birthdays.
post #13 of 17
Thoughts on the bolded portion: I think that this kind of social learning is just easier for some kids. I have one kid who had to be outwardly taught (and yes, "had" to be, because I find it important for my kids to learn) and another who just picked it up from hearing it done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pinksprklybarefoot View Post
Yeesh. There is so much to say, yet I'm not sure that I exactly know how to say it.

We had a lot of difficulty with presents when DSD was younger - only in the last few months has she become good at the whole thanking-people-no-matter-what thing. Strangely enough, this one has been intuitive to the 2 yo. Maybe he'll change as he gets older, but at this point he was pretty darn excited to open up anything - even clothes. And only recently have we tackled the "the one I have at my mom's is better" thing.

One thing - I am getting to the point where I will just accept that whatever is at her mom's is better. Doesn't matter what it is. The pilly, faded t-shirt reeking of cigarette smoke from her mom's is going to be better than the cute, brand-new shirt here. I get it. Her mom can do no wrong. Sure lady, bring your boyfriend of three weeks to your family Christmas and let that be DSD's first meeting with him with no warning, after your engagement to a man whose children DSD was referring to as her "future brothers" ended in October. Sweet.

We have DSD on Christmas Eve, so Santa comes the night before Christmas Eve. DSD kept calling it "fake Christmas" and Christmas Day (of which she is usually with her mom) as "real Christmas." By the end of the day on Christmas Eve, I was pretty annoyed - there are two other children here who will be forced to celebrate "fake Christmas" instead of "real Christmas" because of her for their entire childhoods - they don't get the additional Christmas on Christmas Day and I would hate for them to spend their entire childhood thinking that their holiday was second-rate. Thank God they are too little to understand what she was saying. So I understand not wanting your DSD's experience to make the experience of your future children less valid.

DH said that although as a parent he doesn't "go off" often, your experience with the gifts would probably warrant it. And he would strongly consider the donation/soup-kitchen route the following year.

I am usually not this negative in my posts - this Christmas holiday was particularly annoying. I'd love to tell you that it gets easier Proto, but I've found that the older my children get, the more I worry that DSD's negativity will ruin their experiences.
post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtoLawyer View Post

We get a few good items, and an experience. (This year, it was some art stuff and a trip to see the Nutcracker.)
Quote:
Mom got her a bunch of plastic stuff. Basically everything on her "list" (Mom was relatively poor growing up--her dad overcompensates now--and doesn't want SD to experience the disappointment she did on Christmas, which to a point I understand).
Did she ask for art items or a trip to the Nutcracker? Did you get her something off her list?

I don't know...I can see how this would be frustrating, and you seem to be concentrating on the volume of difference rather than a specific item or two. But if your DSD asked for plastic stuff, and you're not OK with giving that, and you give something that you find fun while she doesn't, I don't see why it's surprising that she's disappointed.

I think it's possible that you might have a little of the "liquid filled bowling ball" problem here. (Where Homer buys Marge a liquid filled bowling ball with his name on it. He bowls, she doesn't.) I agree with you that piles of presents can be problematic, but I do think that the gifts should be something FUN. Something that the recipient finds fun. You can accomplish that without a pile of stuff.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by plunky View Post
Did she ask for art items or a trip to the Nutcracker? Did you get her something off her list?

I don't know...I can see how this would be frustrating, and you seem to be concentrating on the volume of difference rather than a specific item or two. But if your DSD asked for plastic stuff, and you're not OK with giving that, and you give something that you find fun while she doesn't, I don't see why it's surprising that she's disappointed.

I think it's possible that you might have a little of the "liquid filled bowling ball" problem here. (Where Homer buys Marge a liquid filled bowling ball with his name on it. He bowls, she doesn't.) I agree with you that piles of presents can be problematic, but I do think that the gifts should be something FUN. Something that the recipient finds fun. You can accomplish that without a pile of stuff.
She did ask to go to the Nutcracker (begged, even), and she did ask for art supplies (as it turns out, she'd already gotten in bigger and better form--meaning, bright plastic kid-oriented junk rather than the actual painting and clay supplies she requested--from the aforementioned grandparents).

We just didn't get her everything off of her list. Even though we told her, repeatedly, that the list was for suggestions, not demands, AND we told her that the Nutcracker was her main gift and asked if that was OK and she said "yes I really really really want to go," it was never going to be good enough. (By contrast, a Six Flags trip for her birthday was the ONLY gift we got her--by her own request--and that was the coolest thing ever. She didn't see her grandparents for her birthday and I don't think they sent too much over; that seems to be an in-person thing only.)

The Nutcracker was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and well before the big glowing tree with the big glowing pile of plastic and well-meaning over-indulgent grandparents...so by then, it was forgotten. It wasn't a "gift." It was just "something to do. Kinda boring, actually." (Never mind that right after the ballet, she asked if we could go again next year.)

She also got toys (from a different list, but she requested it) from my parents and her paternal grandparents (who also got her an electronic keyboard, which was very exciting and again given in response to her wanting to learn to play the piano). Again, good for awhile but not good enough. She played with that stuff on that day, then spent this past weekend here sulking that she left her new DVD player at her mom's and couldn't watch DVDs in her room here (which we wouldn't allow anyway--we keep electronics other than clock-radios/CD players out of the bedrooms). ("Why don't you play with your new keyboard?" "NO! That's LAME! Besides, I don't know how." "I can teach you to read music." "NO! JEEZ!")

I don't know...I know the plastic junk is fun and (part of) what she wants. But I also know how she operates--she circles it in an ad or begs for it when she sees it on TV, and it seems to be very exciting on the day-of, and then it disappears under the bed or in the closet and is never seen again. We want to get her things she wants, but things she'll actually use. It seems like such a waste.

I do think there's something else at play besides gift disappointment. As I said, she's in a very demanding "mom can do no wrong" phase. (Last night, at drop-off, she told my husband she wanted to get rid of the dog, even though an hour earlier, she was rolling with the dog on the floor and telling him how much she loved him and wished she could take him back to Mom's. Mom doesn't like dogs and made a comment about dog hair.) And I do know part of that phase can be rejecting that which isn't Mom.

Still...sparklefairy's point makes sense. Some social learning about accepting gifts respectfully still needs to occur (and she's very good at it with relatives and friends--we've role-played, actually: "OK, kiddo, here's your present!" (Opens a hideous sweater or a roll of toilet paper.) "Thank you for thinking of me." And it's worked in public.) I guess she feels comfortable enough to complain right at us.
post #16 of 17
That does sound frustrating. I would not do the Nutcracker next year, probably.

Gifts are hard. But I really like it when I do it well, you know? It just doesn't always happen. This year, I got my wife exactly what she wanted (a KitchenAid mixer), and I think she's happy with it, but it breaks so many of my "rules" for what makes a good gift. I almost didn't enjoy giving it to her. Certainly there was no thought behind the gift. But my make or break rules for gifts are 1) fun and 2) something they would never buy for themselves. And I guess it was those things, because she's wanted this appliance for years, but not sprung for it. But eh, so not my idea of a good Christmas gift.

My (child) half brothers are impossible to buy gifts for because of the piles of gifts thing. But my (adult) brother found the perfect thing for them last year and broke through the piles of gifts barrier. I doubt he spent more than $100 on their combined gift, but it was masterful and he will be remembered for that.
post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by plunky View Post
This year, I got my wife exactly what she wanted (a KitchenAid mixer), and I think she's happy with it, but it breaks so many of my "rules" for what makes a good gift. I almost didn't enjoy giving it to her. Certainly there was no thought behind the gift. But my make or break rules for gifts are 1) fun and 2) something they would never buy for themselves. And I guess it was those things, because she's wanted this appliance for years, but not sprung for it. But eh, so not my idea of a good Christmas gift.

Small thread hijack. I'm also an active participant on a cooking bb. I would LOVE a KA mixer and there are ALWAYS threads on there after Christmas where people post that they are soooo excited about having recieved one. They talk about what color they are, what they named theirs, etc. So, you did good.
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