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#1 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Saying no to awful presents

My daughter just had her first birthday. She is so cute and awesome and as her mother i think it's my right to have some say over the things around her, including her toys. We also have a three year old son. We have told the ILs many, many, times that we don't want plastic toys, especially if they play music, but they keep on giving them. Over and over and over. They just don't listen! And it creates difficult situations. Most recently they showed up to dd's 1st birthday with a huge fisher price doll house. It was SO ugly and plays TWELVE annoying songs. I thought (quietly) "fine, i'll just wait until they leave and throw it in the closet and try to return it". Then, MIL said "I took off the plastic", so i thought "oh well, no refund, to the VV or whatever". Then MIL suggested we open it. I was like "what, really, lady?! why...why why WHY do you have to play these games all the time, and push me into these corners". Instead i said "well, it looks pretty noisy, not sure we want to keep it here. Would you like to take it to your house instead?" She hummed about it a bit, obviously disappointed (for reasons that i don't understand). Eventually they took it home, unopened, in the box with them. It's fine - i guess. It's annoying but having children has really helped me to learn that i can not control other people. That's fine. BUT, what happens when the babies get older and the inappropriate toys come over and they get mad (rightly so i guess) when they can't open them at our house? Will i eventually have no say in what kind of toys they get? I hate the idea of them being surrounded by plasticy, noisy, stupid-making toys all the time!! Maybe i'm fooling myself, maybe as soon as they are old enough to balk back (maybe 4?) I will lose all control over what they play with. I'd like to hear what other moms think.
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#2 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 01:40 PM
 
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We are only just now getting to an age where this is more of a problem (DD is almost 5). I generally either give very specific guidelines for what to get or just accept the gift graciously and then chuck it in the attic to be donated later on. It is rare that's daughter has actually remembered any of these things. There have been a few instances where she's gotten really enamoured with something I consider awful, and I let her keep those things. It's actually not too hard for us because we have a very small house and space for toys is at a premium. It's very normal for me to filter out toys that aren't in daily play. For us, that's most things, plastic and awful or not. And if something is so fascinating that my DD can play with it creatively day after day, maybe it's not so awful.

I do think it's annoying that we have to accumulate junk, but I know my DD's grandparents have the best of intentions, and I try to honor that. I tell them it wasn't appropriate for her at her age or she just didn't play with it, etc.
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#3 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 01:49 PM
 
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Um.. That's really harsh. I can't imagine treating my in-laws that way.

I get it- we hate plastic junk too, and try to discourage it. But geez- it sounds like you treated them very poorly at the party ( they took their own gift home!).

Really ungrateful, IMO. A few plastic things here and there, especially when given in love and good intentions, is not worth hurting feelings over.
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#4 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 01:52 PM
 
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My MIL used to show up, maybe once a year, with a car literally full of horrible plastic crap. I... got over it. I really hated it, but I eventually concluded it was not a thing to fight over.

Here's my thinking, in several parts, with anecdotes (sorry for length):

Sometimes it helps to relax your standards a little. Or reconsider them. Non-plastic toys are not necessarily good, and plastic ones are not necessarily bad. Over the years, various relatives have given us push/ride on cars for small children. One was an adorable wooden truck with axles placed towards the center, so that when DS stepped on the end, the whole truck flipped upwards and smacked him in the face. I moved it to the basement, and refuse to pass it on to other children. Two of the cars were plastic Little Tykes numbers, which caused no safety issues. One of them had a variety of activities that made awful electronic noises. I removed the batteries one night when the kids were in bed. Both provided hours of entertainment here, and have been handed down to other families.

Your aesthetic judgment may not mean a lot to your children. "Ugly" is in the eye of the beholder. Let that one go.

Batteries come out. Let the kids have the full-on immersive electronic singy toy experience while Grandma is around, and then, after bedtime, get out a screwdriver, and yank the power. Consider putting batteries back in for special occasions, like the third blizzard to hit you in quick succession, or some day when you just need kids to give you space. I hated the Fisher Price Activity Table when MIL brought it over, but it got me a ton of uninterrupted cooking time.

Gifts are sometimes about relationships. Your MIL is giving gifts, probably, with some hope that the gifts will strengthen her connection with the children. If you don't like her taste, supply her with a detailed list of things you really want the children to have, that you think they would enjoy using with her, that are in her price-range. It usually goes over much better to say that you know your child would like (bath toys, a plastic slide for the backyard, a hula hoop, some spatulas and wooden spoons to play with) than it does to veto things she's brought to your house.

If you must, you can claim it's about you. And never do this in front of guests. Call a week later. "Oh Mom, DD *loved* the Fisher Price record player, but I got such bad headaches I had to put it away. Can we keep it at your house so she can still play with it?"

As your kids get older, they will develop opinions of their own about what they want, and you can use that information to help your MIL pick things you approve of. When you can talk to her as though the two of you are managing the children's presents together, you have a fair bit of control, but it takes some tact to get to that point.

(MIL died three years ago, and the giant plastic Imaginext DragonWorld Castle that makes the thunderstorm noises and has little canons that shoot pieces you can choke on is still in our living room. The kids love it, and remember their grandmother every time they play with it. I wish I had been more gracious while I had the chance.)
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#5 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Um.. That's really harsh. I can't imagine treating my in-laws that way.

I get it- we hate plastic junk too, and try to discourage it. But geez- it sounds like you treated them very poorly at the party ( they took their own gift home!).

Really ungrateful, IMO. A few plastic things here and there, especially when given in love and good intentions, is not worth hurting feelings over.
Speaking of harsh, your reply is a bit that way, no?

Anyway, we told them over and over about the toys. They don't listen. That's not nice either, is it?
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#6 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 03:01 PM
 
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Viola, you humiliated a guest at your daughter's birthday party. Some harshness is justified.

If the toy thing is the biggest problem you have with your in-laws, you've gotten off lightly.
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#7 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Viola, you humiliated a guest at your daughter's birthday party. Some harshness is justified.

If the toy thing is the biggest problem you have with your in-laws, you've gotten off lightly.
There was no one else there, just us. So don't worry about "public embarrassment" because that wasn't an element. For more context, the part with our friends was a "no presents party", and then the ILs stay for dinner after everyone else has left. I hope that helps to clarify things.

I disagree that harshness was in order.
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#8 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 03:58 PM
 
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At best, it was ungracious.

What's more important to you? Having no one ever give the kids toys you dislike, or the involvement of loving grandparents in your children's lives?
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#9 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 04:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by MeepyCat View Post
Viola, you humiliated a guest at your daughter's birthday party. Some harshness is justified.

If the toy thing is the biggest problem you have with your in-laws, you've gotten off lightly.
I agree with Meepy Cat - if this is your biggest issue with your in laws you're very lucky. Yes you can absolutely make suggestions as to what gifts your kids would like but you cannot expect everyone to follow them. This wasn't an inappropriate gift in the sense that it was dangerous or age inappropriate. Rejecting something just because it's plastic can eliminate so many awesome toys from consideration - my girls adored Little People and Legos - both plastic but very encouraging of creative play.

Honestly a doll house is a fabulous open-ended toy. If the recordings bother you just remove the batteries. If you don't like the look of it stick it in a corner of your daughter's room or, if possible, in a closet. That way she can play with it and not disturb you at the same time.

It sounds like your in laws put a lot of thought into their gift and we're excited to see your daughter's reaction. They sound like great grandparents - I will my in laws were equally caring.
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#10 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just because they buy fancy gifts does not mean they are wonderful grandparents!

Anyway, yes, maybe i should have accepted the toy, despite that i detest it.

There is a lot of history here, and they have been very mean to me, which doesn't help things. I find it very difficult to know when they are f-ing with me and when to let it go.

My daughter doesn't have her own room, we share a room. We don't have a rec room. The kids have a small space in our living room. This just exacerbates things.

But yes, thanks for the replies, it has been helpful.

Meepycat, you sound like a grandparent.
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#11 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 04:22 PM
 
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It's hard to remember who is allowed what, which grandchild can have this or that, when to call, all of that....
I have learned to just accept gifts graciously and then do whatever you need to do with it.
I realize this can present problems with a child, but truly it is the easiest and kindest solution, for my family at least.
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#12 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 04:36 PM
 
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Thanks, I have high hopes I get to be one someday. I had awesome grandparents. My kids aren't as lucky all around (if FIL shows up, we call the cops), but I wouldn't burn bridges with someone over a doll house.

Managing family conflict is hard. Usually, ending it is better than fighting it.
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#13 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 04:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, yes, i should have accepted it. The other issue is that we don't have the room for all these large toys they keep buying. Indoor bikes, complicated car tracks that mount to walls, large doll houses and helicopter stands. We have one living room divided in two. Maybe it makes me a bad mother to some to admit this but i need, for my personal sanity, some space that isn't overflowing to the brim with baby toys. It would be different if we had a large house with a separate space for the kids, as it stands now i get stressed out just looking in that corner, wondering where we will put the next things that come. The ILs have money, i dont' understand why they aren't more sensitive to this.
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#14 of 41 Old 03-09-2015, 05:00 PM
 
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Oh man, those car tracks. We sacrificed a kitchen wall to them, but we were planning to eventually renovate that wall out of existence anyway. If you rent, it's completely undoable, and they aren't great for kids as young as your anyhow.

Plead space constraints in advance, and give detailed lists of toys you could live with.
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#15 of 41 Old 03-16-2015, 09:01 PM
 
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We did our best to give hubby's mom a list. If she ignored the list and bought plastic crappy or noisy stuff anyway.... well, let's just say those things get "lost" pretty quick at my house. I take them to the children's hospital waiting rooms or the doctor's office or just plain old donate them to Goodwill. I have no intention of keeping a gift I find detestable, even if family did give it us.
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#16 of 41 Old 03-16-2015, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We did our best to give hubby's mom a list. If she ignored the list and bought plastic crappy or noisy stuff anyway.... well, let's just say those things get "lost" pretty quick at my house. I take them to the children's hospital waiting rooms or the doctor's office or just plain old donate them to Goodwill. I have no intention of keeping a gift I find detestable, even if family did give it us.
How do you explain the missing toy to your LO?

I agree that there are some that are just NO. I try not to lie overtly to the LOs, but i'm not sure that's sustainable. I don't know why i have a hold up about it considering i have no problem pretending teddy has real feelings and really wants to wear a party hat and the baby will fall into an abyss if we don't use bumper pillows.

What excuses do you use with the LO's mostly? Just that you lost it?

The ILs don't listen to us at all about anything. They bought a huge bratz bus and expected us to transport it back and forth with the kids during the weekday drop off. They're a little out of touch since MIL was a SAHM with only 1 child. They obviously have no clue what it's like to have 2 children, 2 adults, 3 jobs, 1 car... you get the idea.
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#17 of 41 Old 03-16-2015, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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For context, here's a pic of the Bratz bus. It's very large - over two feet maybe in length. Keep in mind this is AFTER we politely asked for no battery operated plasticy toys...and gave a few reminders

Amazon Amazon
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#18 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 04:00 AM
 
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Does that require batteries?

I admit that I don't love packing toys around. Anything that's supposed to go back and forth on weekdays, I'm going to try to leave at our destination point.

But wait a second - "weekday dropoff"? Are your ILs providing regularly scheduled childcare?
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#19 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 05:34 AM
 
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ViolaP, what age kids? My DD is turning 5 and I can still usually get away with just removing a new toy, either in the melee just after getting it or a few weeks later when it inevitably sits untouched. She rarely even notices, and if she asks about it months later, I stall (huh, yeah, I wonder where that went...) and she forgets again. If she is very persistent or loves it enough that it stays in active play, I just let it be.
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#20 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 05:49 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Does that require batteries?

I admit that I don't love packing toys around. Anything that's supposed to go back and forth on weekdays, I'm going to try to leave at our destination point.

But wait a second - "weekday dropoff"? Are your ILs providing regularly scheduled childcare?
Oh, this is a very touchy subject for me. I'm not sure we should discuss it here? Maybe I shouldn't have brought that up. I will point you to this article, though. Since i think i know where you're going with that comment.

http://alphamom.com/your-life/life-r...ree-childcare/
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#21 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 06:21 AM
 
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Wow. I think you're really missing the point in all this. You're spending a lot of time focusing on material things when your in-laws are obviously loving and attentive grandparents. Be thankful they're there for your kids. My in-laws rarely bother with us. If you just can't help yourself and really don't like a toy they give, thank them for the gift, and later down the line find a family in need or a friend who doesn't mind those sorts of toys. What's more important- presents or their presence? Also, be careful what you say in front of your daughter because she will quickly pick up the notion that the gifts are more important than the love that came with them.
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#22 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 10:16 AM
 
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Oh, this is a very touchy subject for me. I'm not sure we should discuss it here? Maybe I shouldn't have brought that up. I will point you to this article, though. Since i think i know where you're going with that comment.

http://alphamom.com/your-life/life-r...ree-childcare/
Where I'm going with that comment is that this issue is in no way worth burning your childcare arrangement over.
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#23 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Where I'm going with that comment is that this issue is in no way worth burning your childcare arrangement over.
It's only 1 day a week, thankfully. Our daycare sent home a book for dd's bday but it was small...and just a book.
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#24 of 41 Old 03-17-2015, 11:02 AM
 
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With 3 kids now any rules I once had about plastic are out the window, but the older ones are mostly outgrowing toys besides legos anyway. But when it's a really obnoxious toy, the batteries come out to avoid the noise and the minute they lose interest we give them away. Before the grandparents chose a gift I might send out some suggestions. Soon enough they understand what sort of thing I and the children would prefer, some will care about that others won't. If they are trying to undermine you by getting the opposite, don't even give them the satisfaction of a fight. If it's something seriously against my values or dangerous I'd disappear it right away, on gift giving occasions there are so many things at once they hardly would miss one disappearing. As they get older you bite your tongue and pick your battles if the child really likes it, and either way try to be gracious in front of the gift giver.
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#25 of 41 Old 03-29-2015, 01:53 PM
 
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am coming late to the discussion but things totally resonate with me:
The ILs don't listen to us at all about anything

Basically my take on things is
-you tried telling them their preferences
- they cannot hear you, they WANT to spend their own money on stuff you don't like
(+ i totally agree with you = this alone doesn't make them wonderful grand parents)
SO
- they get to keep in their OWN space , the stuff you don't have space for (the huge bratz bus + others
- your home is YOUR OWN SPACE,
so when i read
i need, for my personal sanity, some space that isn't overflowing to the brim with baby toys. It would be different if we had a large house with a separate space for the kids, as it stands now i get stressed out just looking in that corner, wondering where we will put the next things that come
then to me, the choice is quickly made ....
you now say "thank you" when they cannot help themselves (obviously because of their OWN psychological issue,
i mean, which grand parent IN THEIR RIGHT MIND is going to believe that upsetting the mother of their grand children is going to help them in the long run ? very short sighted ones ... don't ask me how i know ...)
and you are sorry in private that they waste their money so stupidly (when for sure there are other options you may not be able to afford but would very much be happy to receive as presents ...)
AND you get to be "generous" to others, either people you know ... or goodwill if really you cannot live with giving something that so much does NOT resonate with your own value .... to someone you know ....
THIS is YOUR space = you get to decide what stays
& i may be shocking some by saying this, but your sanity primes over your kids enjoyment of toys
Toys are not essential to surviving, it makes living very nice, (water, food, clothing and a roof are essential) but your sanity IS essential to your family life and to the surviving of your children ...

in short, you tried explaining, they won't get it, (& i totally get how irritating it can be to feel one's values not respected !!!
=> it was explained to me 10+ years ago that after the 3rd child it gets easier,
because the ILs realise that you don't raise them THAT awfully, even though it's not what they originally wanted .....)
conclusion : do no longer say anyting, just act your preferences, it's your life, your space, your call to bring up your children .... (your children are not going to die because you chuck this or that toy ....)
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#26 of 41 Old 03-29-2015, 02:51 PM
 
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May be they will die. My husband's parents did. No IL drama around here.


In the meantime, the polite thing for you to do is to let your DD open her gifts, say thank you and teacher her to say thank you, and deal with the unwanted item later. There are a lot of options for dealing with the toy later. You have zero control over your ILs behavior, but you 100% of the control over your own behavior. Their bad behavior doesn't excuse yours.


You are setting an example for your DD. Setting the example that other people's behavior is never an excuse for our own behavior will have a bigger impact on her that having a childhood free of plastic toys.

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Thank you, yes, i should have accepted it. The other issue is that we don't have the room for all these large toys they keep buying. Indoor bikes, complicated car tracks that mount to walls, large doll houses and helicopter stands.


My mother loved buying presents for my kids when they were little, and many of them were things I hated. We didn't have space for them. I let the kids enjoy them for a little while, and then disappeared them. I found re-arranging the toys at the same time was enough to keep my kids from figuring it until they were pretty old. I kept the things that they really enjoyed and played with often, but the toys that were fun more as a novelty item rather than for open ended, on-going play were taken good will.


I did talk to my mother, more than once. Letting the toys stay out our house long enough for my kids to get bored of them was the path of least resistance.



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The ILs don't listen to us at all about anything. They bought a huge bratz bus and expected us to transport it back and forth with the kids during the weekday drop off. .

Why not leave some of the toys at their house since your kids are there regularly?

but everything has pros and consĀ  shrug.gif

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#27 of 41 Old 03-29-2015, 03:28 PM
 
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I think issues with the in-laws are always more complicated than they first seem because there are probably other unresolved issues and some other baggage unrelated to the event that makes these gifts feel particularly frustrating, when it probably would be less so if it was given by someone you liked or had a good relationship with.

I completely agree with Linda on the Move and IsaFrench. You told them what you prefer, but at the end of the day it comes down your space and peace of mind. Therefore, you have a couple of options to make your life less dramatic.

First, your in-laws probably don't mean to give gifts that annoy you, and if they do, the best thing you can do is be grateful because they won't get self righteous indignation and further escalate drama.

My advice would be to take the gift graciously, but tell them you don't want to open it now because you don't want to lose little pieces, there's a big mess now, etc. Then on the next drop off at the in-laws bring the toy. Tell them that your kids wanted to play with it and that you wanted them to be able to see and be a part of the entertainment.

When you come pick them, leave the toy at the grandparents. Tell them that you think the kids would love to keep it there and it's too big for exhausted you to haul, so you'll leave it there a few weeks.... which turns to indefinitely.

If that doesn't work - give it away. My daughter's first Xmas we donated half of her toys because we live in a small space and don't believe in accumulating toys, especially toys we believe to be lacking quality.
However, even though I started out hating plastic, there are some cool interesting plastic toys that my daughter loves/loved.

Another thing we did was open a college savings account for her and gave that information to the in-laws and relatives for her bday. You can usually print off little informational things. It was awkward giving it to them because some of my family doesn't really understand why a 1 year old needs a savings account for college, lol, BUT everyone actually gave some money even if they included it with a small toy. This I found was ideal.

Overall, no matter how frustrated and angry you are with your inlaws for whatever reason, you should first not give in to drama that will actually complicate your life rather than make it easier. Just don't take it seriously and live life as you want without feeling the need to even explain it to them. Let them be who they want to as grandparents (sounds like they are otherwise fine). And be happy!
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#28 of 41 Old 03-29-2015, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes there is a lot of background stuff here that wasn't mentioned. Basically the IL's moved thousands of miles from their home to be close to us when our baby was born. I was so excited about it because for various reasons my own parents could never do this and i thought it'd be great to have family around for my children. And it IS great for my children to have family around. But, it hasn't been great for me. I naively thought MIL would be like the mom i never had (nice, available, etc..) but instead I felt that she tried to replace me as my son's mother. She cared for him three days a week and I really felt that she was trying to replace me. Any decision I made as the mother she criticized. Every decision was the wrong one. It was SO hard. And dh really wanted the "free" childcare so i felt surrounded and trapped. It was awful for me. Dh and I ended up in marriage counseling and that probably saved our marriage bc the counselor explained to him why he has to have boundaries with his parents and why it has to come from him. Anyway, i guess i still feel that these things happen but to a far lesser degree since now we see them far less often. It look me so long to accept that MIL will never like me, and letting go of the idealized r/s i wanted to have with MIL in my head was very challenging. But I have now. I accept that they hate me, like this past Christmas they tried to convince dh to bring the kids over on christmas day without me. But i know they're not terrible people, they are good people in many ways. I think they are just very controlling and snobby and dh is their only child. I don't think this is where they thought he'd end up. Anyway, I love how much they love my children, and they do provide much needed respite from time to time. I just wish wish wish we could have a better relationship, but i've come to accept that this is out of my control. Thank you to all who answered, and for again reminding me to let go and remember the importance of family and being gracious.
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#29 of 41 Old 03-30-2015, 05:37 AM
 
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and thanks to you for sharing your situation ... because it's helping me right now
(we are no longer dealing with plastic toys over here, but MIL behaved quite .... in the same line as the type you describe for years, and now, i have just realised that without actually building a real relationship with my children - since i was in the way, i'm her son's choice, not her choice, which is now rather obvious to all, she choose to withdraw when she realised i was not going to do all that she wanted ... - she's actually expecting my 16 years old to go and visit by herself in the near future .... trying to arrange things in my back too .... the same heavy psychological issues i had reservations about .... have not vanished on the day my eldest turned 16 .... so am still in the "mother tiger protecting her children mode" for the moment

except that i had a group talk about conflicts 3 years ago, with other moms, and the notion mentionned by Linda just above was then braught to my attention, it's been hard, but i learned indeed ...
You have zero control over your ILs behavior, but you 100% of the control over your own behavior. Their bad behavior doesn't excuse yours.
You are setting an example for your DD. Setting the example that other people's behavior is never an excuse for our own behavior will have a bigger impact on her ...

so have been trying my best for the last 10 days to abide to that suggestion ...

basically, how to stand your ground, have your values respected
whilst at the same time not being "too much in their face" about it ....

Last edited by IsaFrench; 03-30-2015 at 05:40 AM.
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#30 of 41 Old 03-30-2015, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IsaFrench View Post
and thanks to you for sharing your situation ... because it's helping me right now
(we are no longer dealing with plastic toys over here, but MIL behaved quite .... in the same line as the type you describe for years, and now, i have just realised that without actually building a real relationship with my children - since i was in the way, i'm her son's choice, not her choice, which is now rather obvious to all, she choose to withdraw when she realised i was not going to do all that she wanted ... - she's actually expecting my 16 years old to go and visit by herself in the near future .... trying to arrange things in my back too .... the same heavy psychological issues i had reservations about .... have not vanished on the day my eldest turned 16 .... so am still in the "mother tiger protecting her children mode" for the moment

except that i had a group talk about conflicts 3 years ago, with other moms, and the notion mentionned by Linda just above was then braught to my attention, it's been hard, but i learned indeed ...
You have zero control over your ILs behavior, but you 100% of the control over your own behavior. Their bad behavior doesn't excuse yours.
You are setting an example for your DD. Setting the example that other people's behavior is never an excuse for our own behavior will have a bigger impact on her ...

so have been trying my best for the last 10 days to abide to that suggestion ...

basically, how to stand your ground, have your values respected
whilst at the same time not being "too much in their face" about it ....
Yes it certainly can be challenging!
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