yeah. I think denying a child's request to take his new underwear with him is weird and their mother would still need to send clothes even if they weren't returned. What's the alternative? Send them naked. I sent my son on a visit with his dad wearing a brand new coat. The only new new coat he'd had in years. They didn't return it and have failed to mail it back. Doesn't mean I will send him without a coat if they visit him when its cold. That only punishes my son.
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Regarding your son's coat -- I know what you mean -- we've lost nice winter wear this way too, as there really isn't an alternative. I mean, we can't send them without a coat. One time we even handed the brand-new winter stuff over on purpose, as the kids were growing fast and we weren't planning to have them for cold weather again for a while, so we figured they'd at least get some use this way. Turns out we did have another visit in the cold soon after, but weren't even loaned back the stuff we bought them. It was very frustrating.
So, in general here, our policy is to send them home in stuff they came in or stuff they brought, and keep our stash for later.