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Unwanted gifts from relatives

post #1 of 83
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm once again giving myself a headache trying to decide what to do about excessive and (what I feel are) inappropriate gifts from grandparents for my 6-year-old DD. We have politely asked the relatives not to give DD any gifts that involve TV/movie characters (DD doesn't watch TV and only very occasionally sees movies.) Particularly for girls, I just don't feel that these characters are good role models.

My mom has grudgingly agreed to this in the past, but for the last few years she seems to be trying to see what she can get away with. Today I am irked because:
Late last year my mom took DD shopping and they came home with a brand-new Snow White doll. Didn't ask me about this before the shopping trip. My mom took it out of the bag, handed it to DD, and while she was handing it to her she half-looked at me and said, "She was looking at it in the store," in a voice that somehow implied that because my then-5-year-old looked at it, it would be ok. Didn't feel like taking it away from my daughter right then and there. I did tell my mother that we still don't allow tv/movie characters for DD, which she got hyper defefnsive about. DD took the doll home and played with it, and the doll "disappeared" after a couple of months, which DD barely noticed. Flash forward to today, where my mom took DD with her to the store, and they came home with another new Snow White doll. Mom took it out of the box, mumbled, "I got her this to replace the one that she lost," with DD standing right there, and handed it to DD. Again, I wasn't going to make a fuss about it with DD there, which is stupid of me because I know this is my mother's way of controlling the situation. She is very manipulative. I felt really annoyed, which my mom picked up on, and she left my house shortly afterward. Because she runs away instead of talking about stuff.

So here's my question - isn't it MY right, as a parent, to decide what kinds of toys my DD is/isn't allowed to have? I try not to be overly restrictive in guidelines, and I've discussed it politely with both sides of the family. My mom just keeps pushing me on this one. I don't like to make toys "disappear" and generally if kiddo gets something inappropriate I offer to trade with her for another toy - but with our budget so tight right now, I just can't afford to buy a new toy for her every time my mom shows up with some new plastic swaetshop-made Disney Princess piece of crap. Thoughts? Suggestions? I'm thinking about ripping out all of my hair.

Oh, and by the way, my daughter hasn't mentioned the first doll in ages and I highly, highly doubt that she mentioned the lost doll to Grandma. I really think Grandma asked her where her doll was, and then suggested replacing it.
post #2 of 83
Well, I think your DD is old enough that you should talk to her about it. She knows your values and how you feel about Disney, but she also might truly like that doll and want it. If you can talk about it without making your DD feel evil for wanting it, find out what your DD thinks/wants and go with that.

On a separate note, talk to your mom when your DD isn't around. Remind her that you don't like Disney/characters, BUT give her ideas of toys she could buy your child that you would appreciate. And don't send them out shopping together again.

This is all said by someone who agrees with your stance but lets Grandma buy the occassional Tink or Belle trinket for my DD. DD likes them even though she doesn't know their stories as Disney makes them. She just makes up her own stories with them. I've let Grandma know how I feel about them (don't like the marketing, etc.) but I also want to respect my mom and let her make her own decisions about how she wants to spend her money (and let DD enjoy the gifts my mom gives her). I do a lot of rotating out of toys, and the characters do find their way "out" a bit more easily than my favorite toys, but they also rotate back in on occassion. Anyway, that's how I roll.

HTH

Tjej
post #3 of 83
Hm.

From my perspective, unless you are planning to homeschool and choose your child's friends, this is about to become a non-issue. Because she will meet other people with those toys / movies and she WILL incorporate them into her lexicon.

That said, I agree that your mom knew just what she was doing. And my opinion is that an involved, loving grandparent has the right to share a special memory with a grandchild.

I also think six is way more than old enough to choose toys. My child is three and chooses toys. I have veto power, but I don't veto dolls unless they look like hookers. We've never seen a princess movie but my daughter likes the shiny dresses. At bedtime I tell her stories about how she and Cinderella saved all the animals in the forest (if she wants a Cinderella story), or how she and Dora helped Diego when he got lost (she has never seen Diego... just got the idea he was cool from pre-school, I guess), or how she and Snow White were racecar drivers and won the Indy 500.

It is really not that big of a deal to me if she knows about those characters. It is the obsession with the overall narrative (damsel in distress) and the advertisement of character/brand based identities that is the problem. And that's just not going to happen with a grandparent buying a classic (sorry, it's nearly a half a century old, it's a classic) character doll, in my opinion.

Now, my mom really tries to respect my wishes about not buying them MIC junk that is just polluting China, supporting a mafia and slave labor, and really not educational at all.

However, she is a compulsive clearance-aisle shopper.

Which is why my daughter is now the proud owner of 14 pairs of Dora underwear.

"Nobody will see it so she won't be a walking advertisement."

Oh, mom, I love you.

Because you forgot that EVERYONE is going to see my three-year-old's underwear if it has Dora on it.

(There is a great essay about this in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Kingsolver, btw... about how one time she walked in on her daughter saying to a small friend: "My mom won't let me have barbies but when I grow up I'm going to buy ALL THE BARBIES I WANT and she can't stop me!" Highly recommend the book and the essay.)
post #4 of 83
I agree with the previous posts. I would just like to add to their ideas.

Your mother has decided that she doesn't care about your feelings in this area. What matters to her is what she wants to do. In order to do this, she is counting on you not making a fuss, which is what you continue not to do (understandably).

But if you want this to stop, you're going to have to be willing to have an uncomfortable moment. What I'm suggesting isn't fun but it's effective.

The next time that your mother is manipulative by giving your daughter a known-no-no gift in front of you and dd, you'll need to say something like, "I'm sorry, Mom. I appreciate you wanting to give Susie a gift, but as I've explained we don't allow character items. Please return it and exchange it for something else.".

Then you have to turn into a broken record, saying the same thing over and over without change or else your mother will keep arguing.

She may say, "But Susie likes it!".

You say, "I understand but we don't allow character items. Please exchange it for something else."

Her: "It's just a little doll."

You: "I understand but we don't allow character items. Please exchange it for something else."

Her: "You're being unreasonable. No one else has a problem with a simple Snow White doll!"

You: "I understand but we don't allow character items. Please exchange it for something else."

Your mother may test your boundaries a time or two more, but believe me, she doesn't want the unpleasant encounter any more than you do. Once she realizes that you're willing to have one, she'll quit buying character items!

Good luck!
post #5 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElorasMama View Post
So here's my question - isn't it MY right, as a parent, to decide what kinds of toys my DD is/isn't allowed to have? I try not to be overly restrictive in guidelines, and I've discussed it politely with both sides of the family. My mom just keeps pushing me on this one. I don't like to make toys "disappear" and generally if kiddo gets something inappropriate I offer to trade with her for another toy - but with our budget so tight right now, I just can't afford to buy a new toy for her every time my mom shows up with some new plastic swaetshop-made Disney Princess piece of crap. Thoughts? Suggestions? I'm thinking about ripping out all of my hair.
It is absolutely your right to decide what kinds of toys your daughter is allowed to have. It is NOT your right, IMO, to micromanage the gifts that other people give your children. Gifts are gifts--they are chosen by the giver. Although it would be fabulous if everyone shared our values and gave us exactly what we want, that isn't always reality.

When you are given a gift, I would accept it graciously. Model good manners for your daughter. What you then decide to do with that gift is up to you. If you want to "disappear" it, do so. If you want to tell your daughter why you think it is inappropriate, do that as well. But do NOT do that in front of your mother. I'm sure some people don't like the eco-friendly, crunchy toys I get their children, but I would feel horrible if I was chastised for giving a particular gift.

I say this as someone who gets a lot of gifts that are not in line with my values. We've expressed to the grandparents--nicely, and not in the moment when we are getting a gift--what things we try to avoid. Mostly, they respect our wishes, but sometimes we get stuff that is out of line with our values. We just say thanks. We're very anti-princess culture, and dd got a Disney Cinderella doll from a school friend for her birthday. We decided that making a production out of it would be worse than just letting her have it. So it's in a drawer, and every now and then she plays with it. That's okay with me. One princess doll isn't my hill to die on. Ultimately, the values you instill in your child will be a lot more powerful than a couple of days she played with when she was five.

FWIW, I had a dozens of Barbies as a kid and I grew into a pretty radical feminist. The occasional objectionable toy will not dictate who your child is.
post #6 of 83
I have to say, if someone told me "no character dolls" and I went out shopping, I might not necessarily consider Snow White to be in that category. I would be thinking more along the lines of Barney, Dora, Sponge Bob etc. The Disney princesses I might see as characters, but she didn't buy all the Disne princesses, she bought a single Snow White. Snow White IS a classic. Beyond Disney, the story itself is several hundred years old, perhaps more. Would you be upset about a doll of say, Little Red Riding Hood? If your daughter is interested in the doll, you could talk about the different versions of the story across different countries and time spans (they will probably need a bit of editing for a 5 year old) If the most trouble you've had is a single Snow White doll, I think you're doing ok, and your Mom is probably trying very hard to stick with your guidelines.
post #7 of 83
I am someone who doesn't allow my girls to have character dolls. We live in a Disney free house. I don't have a tv, and I thoroughly censor what movies my girls see. My three year old knows this and will tell anyone (usually MIL) that I will not allow these things in my house. I think that a great solution is for you to leave those things at your moms house. I disagree with the previous poster who said that you should graciously accept all gifts. A lot of families use gift giving occasions for passive aggressiveness in areas where they think the parents are wrong. I think that you should let your daughter know that the reason your mom buys her things that you don't like is because she doesn't respect you, and use that as a teaching opportunity. It would be a nice gateway to explaining to her the type of relationship you want between yourself and her once she has kids.

I know where you are coming from. My mom buys juice boxes with sesame street characters on them. I have tried a million different ways to get her to understand that I don't want my daughter asking for elmo juice. She acts like
she doesn't have a brain in her head. I have heard: The juice with elmo on it, the juice that doesn't have elmo on it, the juice that isn't big bird or bert, and now she thinks that I don't want her to drink it at all... As if it is so hard to ask if a 3 year old wants apple, berry, or orange juice, she has to relate the flavor with the character on the box.
post #8 of 83
I've dealt with similar stuff - we ask people not to get us character items. We don't get them for our children ourselves except minimal occasions where some character was particularly important and wanted by them, but that happens pretty rarely - and sometimes we'll say hey grandma, get some xyz character stickers or something.

BUT there have been times when MIL has a bag of stuff she got our kids, she'll pull out something and say "I know you won't like this but I got it for dd anyway, ha ha ha". I ALWAYS get rid of that stuff.
IMO, with her saying and presenting it like that it's not really about getting something for dd, nor about our dd actually wanting or enjoying said item. (This is less of an issue with other people, like my mom or sisters cause they give whatever items to me first, and kinda expect me to go through it and pull out and give the kiddos what they'll use/like best and give away the rest and MIL has a 'you must save every precious thing I give you' mentality about items she gives us and insists on taking things out of the packaging right away too).

I'm glad this has played out in more 'everyday' gifts for us at least, and not formal gifting occasions, at least. Often, when we have similar things (say we're given a character doll and we already have similar sized dolls) and I'm able to keep things in their packaging, I'll try to get dd to consider donating some items that I really don't want around (to toys for tots or something similar).
I understand and believe, too in being gracious about gifts and flexible in my kids relationships with our extended family - but I think you know best if this is aimed at being manipulative or harmlessly forgetful. Finding some way to talk with your dd about this, just the 2 of you, about your stance and getting her views on the situation, might help. I often resort to that, and there are times when dd has surprised me in otherwise problematic situations (like being given stuff we don't support) because she understands my values.

(ednamarie - really enjoy your post here & will have to check out that book so funny)
post #9 of 83
I think that it is your right to decide what type of toys you want your daughter to play with, however gifts are gifts and you can't monitor what other people choose to give. And, if you have a problem with it, then IMO it is your job to be "the bad guy" and not allow your daughter to have it on the spot, rather than taking it away later and saying that it disappeared. I think that for many, including myself, it is somewhat hard to understand the problem with character dolls/merchandise not being allowed. Even if TV or certain shows aren't allowed, which is moreso understandable. I know that my son doesn't know what toy story is, nor will he probably see the movie or care about it any time soon, but he does love his buzz lightyear toy. Not because of the movie, but because he likes the actual toy. I do have some restrictions on toys, mainly being no gun/weapon toys, and no toys that are sexualized in any way (like dolls with sexy clothes etc) but to me those things are more obvious. Something like snow white may not even be considered a character toy to an older generation because its from a story moreso than from a movie, if you know what i mean. Im not saying any of this to judge, it is completely your business what you want to allow or what you don't want to allow, but just giving a different perspective. I think that where these things are gifts, it's best to just accept it graciously, and let your daughter keep it, or, say right at the time of giving say that you appreciate the thought and that it is very sweet but that you don't allow those types of toys. Taking it away later and hoping your daughter won't notice is dishonest even if she doesn't care.
post #10 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
(There is a great essay about this in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Kingsolver, btw... about how one time she walked in on her daughter saying to a small friend: "My mom won't let me have barbies but when I grow up I'm going to buy ALL THE BARBIES I WANT and she can't stop me!" Highly recommend the book and the essay.)
Yes, I love Kingsolver's essay on Barbie. It gave me lots of food for thought about whether I am making Barbie desirable because she's not allowed in our house.

As a PP said, various people have given DD & DS characters they don't know. They make up their own stories to go along with them. It's just not my hill to die on. I should say the products aren't. The stories are different. When we read stories I find objectionable for one reason or another (almost all princess stories), I explain my thoughts and probe DD's brain to help her think critically.

As for your mother, I don't know how to handle it. I don't disappear toys. If I don't want them around (and there have been a few), I own up to that and tell my children. I think tossing toys when the kids aren't looking isn't an honest way to handle the situation, and it doesn't really tell your daughter what you believe since *she* doesn't know what happened to her original Snow White doll.
post #11 of 83
Is this the hill you want your relationship to die on?

I just ask because I don't really know the backstory with your mother vs. your values, etc. To me a bond with a grandparent is way more important than maintaining a no-character line, at least where Snow White - one of the least offensive of all the Disney canon in appearance, anyway - is concerned. But there might well be more going on.
post #12 of 83
Isn't it possible that your daughter did notice that her doll was gone & mentioned it to her grandma while they were out? Honestly, while I understand that you have a right as a parent to have rules about what you purchase for your kids I don't think that allowing your daughter to keep one doll she obviously enjoys will damage her permanently. Her image of herself as a grown woman will be influenced more by the way that she was raised and not the toys that she played with.
post #13 of 83
I don't know...while I am all for hands off approach and am really relaxed about character toys and that kind of crap now that my kids are school aged--when a parent tells grandma to NOT get a certain type of toy, and grandma does (twice) that to me is less about special memories and relationship and more about power struggle. Admittedly I am probably overly cautious because of the titanium boundaries I must maintain with my own mom.

Frankly, after the second offense I would have been direct. "Mom, I get that it's important to you that DD has a Snow White doll. But that goes against our toy rules and you know that. If you will not respect my rules, then I'm sorry, I will not allow you to take DD out shopping with you. She will not go out with you again until you promise me that you will not buy character toys for her while you are out. If you break your promise, you will no longer go out with her alone for the next year."

A snow white doll would not be my hill to die on--BUT flagrant manipulative, passive-aggressive power challenges from my mom get taken out with a nuclear sledgehammer. Also not my first choice, but my mom simply will not respect and does not seem to understand any other method.

The key is consistancy. At least with my mom. It's really annoying, makes me sad and angry and tired on the rare occasions where she's deciding to test the boundaries...but as you get more practiced, it gets easier.
post #14 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Isn't it possible that your daughter did notice that her doll was gone & mentioned it to her grandma while they were out? Honestly, while I understand that you have a right as a parent to have rules about what you purchase for your kids I don't think that allowing your daughter to keep one doll she obviously enjoys will damage her permanently. Her image of herself as a grown woman will be influenced more by the way that she was raised and not the toys that she played with.
This is what I was thinking also. It may be that she didn't remember it for a long time, but when she was shopping with grandma she did remember it and really wanted it. My ex has given my dd some really dumb toys that never have appealed to her, but every once in a while, usually when ex shows up, she will remember them and ask me if they are still there. She loves her dad (despite him rarely being around) and she can't stand the thought of getting rid of the toys even though she never uses them and it would be easy for me to disappear them. Because it is more an issue of love than anything else I don't get rid of them, it would be like throwing away her dad to my dd. If your dd truly likes this one toy and your mom has been good overall about this then I think you should trust that she is truly doing something with your dd's wants in mind.

It is hard for many people to understand that a parent might want a certain (non-violent) toy banned even if their child seems like they really want it, and kids can turn on the want really quick and heavy with grandparents. Maybe it will help if you clarify with your mom that the toys aren't allowed no matter how much your child wants them.
post #15 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by ElorasMama View Post
Hi, I'm once again giving myself a headache trying to decide what to do about excessive and (what I feel are) inappropriate gifts from grandparents for my 6-year-old DD. We have politely asked the relatives not to give DD any gifts that involve TV/movie characters (DD doesn't watch TV and only very occasionally sees movies.) Particularly for girls, I just don't feel that these characters are good role models.

So here's my question - isn't it MY right, as a parent, to decide what kinds of toys my DD is/isn't allowed to have? I try not to be overly restrictive in guidelines

Oh, and by the way, my daughter hasn't mentioned the first doll in ages and I highly, highly doubt that she mentioned the lost doll to Grandma. I really think Grandma asked her where her doll was, and then suggested replacing it.
I know you said you don't want to be overly restrictive, but IMO you are. One doll - and a replacement for it when "lost" - is not excessive, nor is it inappropriate. If you want to buy her everything from Magic Cabin, go ahead. Just like we can feed our kids all organic at home. But part of the specialness of the grandparent relationship is that they let us have some of the fun stuff instead of just the "best for us" stuff.

If you have her 90+% of the time, and feed/clothe/buy for her with your ideals in mind, then the less than 10% of the time that Gramma buys her a Snow White doll or an ice cream cone at 31 Flavors isn't going to ruin that.

And I'd assume your dd didn't mention the "lost" doll to you because she knows you are against it. Maybe she did mention it to gramma because she knows she is receptive to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oubliette8 View Post
I have to say, if someone told me "no character dolls" and I went out shopping, I might not necessarily consider Snow White to be in that category. I would be thinking more along the lines of Barney, Dora, Sponge Bob etc. The Disney princesses I might see as characters, but she didn't buy all the Disne princesses, she bought a single Snow White. Snow White IS a classic. Beyond Disney, the story itself is several hundred years old, perhaps more. Would you be upset about a doll of say, Little Red Riding Hood? If the most trouble you've had is a single Snow White doll, I think you're doing ok, and your Mom is probably trying very hard to stick with your guidelines.
That was the first thing I thought too. It isn't Bratz; it isn't Barbie. Snow White is pretty benign, honestly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Is this the hill you want your relationship to die on?
To me a bond with a grandparent is way more important than maintaining a no-character line, at least where Snow White is concerned.
Yep.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TCMoulton View Post
Isn't it possible that your daughter did notice that her doll was gone & mentioned it to her grandma while they were out? Honestly, while I understand that you have a right as a parent to have rules about what you purchase for your kids I don't think that allowing your daughter to keep one doll she obviously enjoys will damage her permanently. Her image of herself as a grown woman will be influenced more by the way that she was raised and not the toys that she played with.
Agreed.

And I meant to quote the person who said she was ok with any dolls that don't look like hookers. Same here.

I think you, your dd AND your mom will all be happier if you ban the things that REALLY are offensive, and let go of stuff that is not.
post #16 of 83
it's a battle you will never, EVER win. *sigh*

It's my daughters birthday next week and I am trying to figure out a group present all her immediate family members can buy her. Try to tell her two grandparents you want a handmade wooden dollhouse that costs around 130 bucks!
"But there is a really nice plastic one in walmart for 50. Plastic is so much better than wood because you can bleach it. Wood just gets dirty"

Yeah, you will never win.
post #17 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post
I don't disappear toys. If I don't want them around (and there have been a few), I own up to that and tell my children. I think tossing toys when the kids aren't looking isn't an honest way to handle the situation, and it doesn't really tell your daughter what you believe since *she* doesn't know what happened to her original Snow White doll.
I agree with this. Toys shouldn't be disappeared, especially as a sentimental gift from a loving grandparent. You should be honest and explain why she can't have it.

Quote:
But part of the specialness of the grandparent relationship is that they let us have some of the fun stuff instead of just the "best for us" stuff.

If you have her 90+% of the time, and feed/clothe/buy for her with your ideals in mind, then the less than 10% of the time that Gramma buys her a Snow White doll or an ice cream cone at 31 Flavors isn't going to ruin that.


I couldn't agree more.

When I was little I had an astronaut barbie and astronaut cabbage-patch kid (both presents from grandma, because mom wouldn't buy them and we were poor).
post #18 of 83
Honest opinion? You are being way over-controlling. It's a Snow White doll, not a bomb. I think as your daughter gets older this attitude will really backfire on you. Have you ever heard the term "choose your battles"? Is this battle really that important in the long run?
post #19 of 83
Quote:
Originally Posted by TulsiLeaf View Post
it's a battle you will never, EVER win. *sigh*

It's my daughters birthday next week and I am trying to figure out a group present all her immediate family members can buy her. Try to tell her two grandparents you want a handmade wooden dollhouse that costs around 130 bucks!
"But there is a really nice plastic one in walmart for 50. Plastic is so much better than wood because you can bleach it. Wood just gets dirty"

Yeah, you will never win.
You tell people what gift to get? Part of the joy for me of birthday's is picking out something I think the birthday child will love. If I was told, "Hi can you come to little one's birthday and please contribute $20 to the gift that I have deemed appropriate" I probably wouldn't contribute anything and would consider not attending.
post #20 of 83
I think your mother is being passive aggressive. Next time she buys your kid something you don't approve of just ignore her. She's doing this to annoy you, not because she actually wants to buy your dd these toys. If you react you'll only feed the fire.
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