Why does she keep buying us more crap?? - Mothering Forums

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Old 05-18-2007, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know my mom loves her grandkids, but why does she have to keep expressing that love with STUFF?

She just came back from visting a college with my 17yo cousin. While she was there, she bought stuff for the kids as souvenirs. For DS, she got a 4-pack of pencils with the school's name on it. That's fine, as DS loves pencils right now (and the electric pencil sharpener) and pencils are not bulky and are useful, even though we already have plenty of them.

But for the girls, she bought binders- one lavendar with white flowers on it and one hot pink with light pink hearts. Now, I personally would have loved those anytime from kindergarten through college, but my girls HATE stuff like that. I doubt they're going to use them. DD2 prefers spiral notebooks, when she uses notebooks at all. But tell that to mom and she'll freak out that DD2 isn't doing something "schooly enough" if she doens't need notebooks. :

But what irks me most of all is that these binders are bulky and I really have no place to store them. and it's not like my kids even care about this particular college or have any need for a "souvenir" from there. It would be different if my cousin purchased a few items for the girls from whatever school she actually decides to attend.

A few weeks ago, when I had DD2's birthday party, mom got DS two cars from the Disney Cars movie. That's nice and all, but these 2 cars are a larger scale than the rest of his car/road collection and can't be used together. It's also 2 characters he already has in the smaller version. But what bothers me most of all about this is that DS is 5.5 years old- he's no longer a toddler and he's old enough IMO to understand that this is DD2's birthday and not his own. He would have been quite satisfied with just the goody bag we gave to all the party guests.

How do I get her to stop buying us useless gifts for no reason? I don't think she "gets it" that we have VERY limited space in the house, and it causes the kids stress and frustration, not pleasure, to have more stuff to try and find a home for. Even books are not really appreciated, as we have limited space on the bookshelves, we make great use of the public library, and we'd rather not own any books unless they're going to be read again and again- so we need to read it (or at least the first book in the series) from the library first!

How do I get her to stop buying the kids material items that cause stress rather than pleasure? And how do I do this without hurting her feelings?

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 05-18-2007, 03:13 PM
 
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just tell her... and tell her again. i do this w/ my mom all the time. she gets it, but still breaks down and buys stuff sometimes. it isn't as bad as what it would be if i didn't keep reminding her. i always reinforce the environmental reasons.

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Old 05-18-2007, 03:16 PM
 
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How do I get her to stop buying us useless gifts for no reason? I don't think she "gets it" that we have VERY limited space in the house, and it causes the kids stress and frustration, not pleasure, to have more stuff to try and find a home for. Even books are not really appreciated, as we have limited space on the bookshelves, we make great use of the public library, and we'd rather not own any books unless they're going to be read again and again- so we need to read it (or at least the first book in the series) from the library first!

How do I get her to stop buying the kids material items that cause stress rather than pleasure? And how do I do this without hurting her feelings?
My mom loves the dollar store. In the house, I swear we have around 50 coloring books. No joke. I think I maybe bought three of them. She also gets them little knick knack sort of things. Lots of cheap plastic toys.

On one hand, it's cheap enough that eventually they break. On the other hand, I'd rather her give them one nice thing they could use rather than a lot of little crappy things that are either going to be thrown out or donated.

So, I can completely relate. Sigh.

My mom has gotten better recently with getting me stuff....but she still sends the same stuff with the kids.

My mom lives (all alone) in a 3,500 sq foot colonial, 4 bedroom, FULL basement, 2 1/2 car garage. It's jam packed with stuff. : Which is why she can't move and be with her grandkids.

Here, I am...under 1800 square feet, no basement and the attic is too hot to put anything in it really. With 5 people plus a couple of cats living here, we're pretty packed!

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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Old 05-18-2007, 04:03 PM
 
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I have no idea what the answer is... it is so frustrating because I have told my mother and my mother in law, over and over and over again! I prepared my mother in law before we even had kids -no useless stuff! We are practical people! Everytime I see her I go on and on endlessly about how much we can't stand knick knacks, etc, and I'll talk about how someone else sent us a knick knack and we have no place for it and we hate it and it just ended up broken and still she actually said to me, "I know you hate this kind of stuff but I just want to do this for my grandkids" and started buying them some useless themed collection of knick knacks and that's all the get from her now and she even told other family members about it so all my inlaws buy these things, argh! And they aren't tiny, some of them are over 2ft tall... why on earth would people buy these things for children, especially when they know we hate them? And my mother brings over garbage I swear... she will see people leaving scraps from various projects and gather them all together and bring them over to my house for the kids, rocks and pinecones, the broken things people leave out in boxes with a free sign, useless oddball items she finds around her house (my kids already manage to gather enough of this sort of stuff all on their own).

Oops, I hit the wrong button! Wanted to add, the hardest part is that my kids are extremely grateful... they feel like they are showing their love and care for the person by the expression of their gratefulness so then I think family just thinks my poor kids are deprived so they have to go against my wishes or something, but of course then my kids are all so upset about it and don't know what to do because they don't want this stuff around and yet they don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. We have no room for the gimongous knick knacks especially, but it is just soul wrenching for the kids not to have that stuff out on display to show how important the people who got them those things are.
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Old 05-18-2007, 04:17 PM
 
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You need to come to peace with the fact that you can't make her change, you can't make her do what you want. I finally got to that place, a few months before my mom died. Now, I'd accept happily any crappy stuff she gave the kids if only I had her with me again.

If the girls don't want the binders, give 'em away. But do thank your mom for thinking of them. It really is the thought that counts, and if you focus on that, on the message that she was thinking of your girls, you can let the physical thing go with no guilt.

It is frustrating that they don't get it, but it comes back to not being able to change another person.

Mom to DD1 (11/1999),  DD2 (07/2003), and DS (11/2012), all born at home and cloth diapered. 

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Old 05-18-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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Can you redirect her giving? Maybe suggest that if she is going to get the kids souvenirs from x, y, or z - that they would probably enjoy t-shirts, or hair clips, or whatever useful thing you can think of. For birthdays, maybe you could make her a list ahead of time or the classes from the local rec center that the kids "are really jazzed about and would LOVE to take." Would something like that work with your mom?
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Old 05-18-2007, 05:05 PM
 
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I actually cried the last time MIL came with a bag of junk. I didn't think she noticed since she was in the other room but it's frustrating when I spend hours each day decluttering and trying to get things under control and mom and MIL literally give the kids bags of stuff each week thengo overboard with every occasion. She apologized and said she couldn't help it. I just said that I have to control myself or we would never get control of things. I hope she got the hint. I know I tell mom point blank, but she still does it. I have been ruthless about giving it away lately unless it's something the kids LOVE.
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Old 05-18-2007, 09:59 PM
 
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I don't know what to say, I'm just chiming in because we deal with the same thing. For example, last year for DS2's birthday, my mom gave him a FOOS BALL TABLE! He has to play with it in the garage. Arggghh!

Holly

So...I'm 43 and pregnant with #3 - how'd that happen?  

 

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Old 05-20-2007, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you redirect her giving? Maybe suggest that if she is going to get the kids souvenirs from x, y, or z - that they would probably enjoy t-shirts, or hair clips, or whatever useful thing you can think of. For birthdays, maybe you could make her a list ahead of time or the classes from the local rec center that the kids "are really jazzed about and would LOVE to take." Would something like that work with your mom?
Well, she did get them binders, which on the surface seem useful, except that my kids don't like the binders she picked out. Truth be told, they're NOT going to enjoy t-shirts from someplace they've never even heard of or hair clips they didn't pick out themselves. They really don't like t-shirts with any words or designs on them, unless the design specifically matches a skirt they can wear it with.

For birthdays and Hanukkah, she gets the girls cash and buys a $1 gift to wrap up the cash with, and for DS she usually gets him something he truly enjoys and has a place to put, such as cars and/or trains that work with his existing car and train collections. It's these random gifts for no reason that are throwing things out of balance!

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 05-20-2007, 02:29 PM
 
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Don't try to change your mom. Or your dad or inlaws. It is a waste of everyone's time.

For everything that comes into our house, something must leave. The kids know this, too.

(This is not to say that we rush upstairs with a trash bag after every birthday party, but we do four periodic kid's room declutters per year, the two biggest being in June- between their birthdays- and December- before Christmas.)

If it's new, with tags, I sell it on eBay. If the kids got a hold of it, played with it, and are thru with it, I take it to Vinnie's. If it's junk, it gets tossed.

I know I probably sound like a Nazi, but my kids have 15 (yes, fifteen) grandparents. If I did not have some rules about stuff, we would be buried in our own junk.

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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Old 05-20-2007, 02:43 PM
 
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Can you intersect the gifts and put up the ones you actually want the kids to have for a real gift giving day?

Amy ~ Web Designing Single Mom to 4: DD14, DS12, DS5, DS3
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:14 AM
 
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I feel your pain. My DD has 12 grandparents, great-grandparents, and grandparent-type figures. I have tried absolutely everything I can think of to get them to cut back on the gifts, and I'm met with resistance and comments like, "It's a grandmother's right to spoil a child with presents." Christmas was so bad that I couldn't walk through DD's room afterwards, and I just sat in the room and cried over all the hours of decluttering I had ahead of me.
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:51 AM
 
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So....can one of you fine young ladies call my MIL and talk to her? We've had this same chat so many times over the past 3 years, I've lost count. Literally EVERY time they come to visit (which is about once a month), she brings a little gift for my ds. It's invariably something he doesn't need....like yet another bottle of bubble stuff. I'm so tired of it, I can't even begin to explain....yet I know you all understand.

The other thing I'm so incredibly tired of hearing is the grandparent's inalienable right to spoil their grandkids. Give me a break!!! Spoil them with your undivided attention....with so many hugs and kisses they get a rash....with activities and fun stuff to do. Quit showing your love with coloring books, cheap toys, and bubble solution!!

Shannon & Paul...married since 2000. Parents to Alexander Paul Martin - 30 October, 2003 Grace Elizabeth Maile - 12 June, 2009
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Old 05-21-2007, 04:22 AM
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Sounds like my kids' grandmother (their dad's mom, not even my MIL)...

The only way this woman knows how to express love is through things...I've never seen such an emotionally stunted adult in my entire life...and I spent the first 10 years of my kids lives fighting her on this.

It insulted me and made me angry that she thought she could buy their love...and on more than one occasion I tried to talk to her about the problem. It only served to alienate her and confuse her.

For a long time I thought her confusion was manipulation, but I've come to realize that she simply doesn't know any other way.

It frustrates me. She is a shopaholic and there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't call me to tell me about the latest thing she's bought for the kids or for me or for the house or for my husband (not her son). Her intentions are good. Her motivation is sincere.

I simply accept her gifts with a smile and a thankyou, and I keep what we can use and pass along the things we can't...It isn't worth it to me to hurt her by rejecting her gifts...because to her, the gifts are an extension of herself and to reject them means we reject her...

::sigh:: People are so complicated, aren't they?
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Old 05-21-2007, 05:12 AM
 
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Ahhhh yes my MIL loves Walmart and the Dollar Tree, so nearly all my kids gifts from her come from those two stores. I have an entire bin of plastic crap that gets collected and then brought to the Goodwill.

I sucessfully headed off my mom today, I called her and we talked about how my DS4 loved the monkey slippers she sent, and she immediately goes into how they had monkey this and monkey that and maybe she'll pick some of that up too!!! (plastic monkey stuff mind you). I told her gently, no...actually he has enough stuff right now and she said ok! One box of junk toys down!! WHOO HOOO!!
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Old 05-21-2007, 11:37 AM
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It's the thought that counts!
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:01 PM
 
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We have the same problem here, although it has gotten a touch better lately. I don't know if it is anything I've done or the fact that my parents are realizing that spending money they don't have is a bad idea the older they get, LOL.

They know we are soon to be 7 people packed in 1100 square feet - and how I have a lot of trouble with chaos and visual clutter. I've expressed that I wind up yelling/nagging the kids all the time because they have trouble cleaning up when they have too much stuff. I've also told them that for everything that comes in something must leave, and that "something" is almost always something they bought with their good money (because they buy most of their stuff, lol). Then I make good on my threats to give stuff away and they see things that they just bought months ago (or sooner) disappear. I *think* it's sinking in a bit.

We donate constantly to Goodwill/St. Vincent de Paul, and freecycle. It is really frustrating/tiring to have to deal with it, but I try hard to look at how blessed we are and the *good* things I like about my relatives who do this. We also have a ready list of suggestions and an amazon wish list for gift giving suggestions!

Amy
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:36 PM
 
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Honestly, I don't think there's much you can do about it. There are some people in the world who need to show their love through giving gifts to others. You can enforce a "no gifts" policy on these people, but in my experience that has the effect of shutting off their outlet for showing love, and then they feel frustrated and unappreciated. It can be very hard for someone, especially later in life, to learn new ways of showing love, especially when it's someone like your grandchildren that you don't see every single day.

I'd probably just Freecycle the unwanted items or give them to Goodwill or something like that.
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Old 05-21-2007, 12:51 PM
 
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I actually cried the last time MIL came with a bag of junk. I didn't think she noticed since she was in the other room but it's frustrating when I spend hours each day decluttering and trying to get things under control and mom and MIL literally give the kids bags of stuff each week thengo overboard with every occasion. She apologized and said she couldn't help it. I just said that I have to control myself or we would never get control of things. I hope she got the hint. I know I tell mom point blank, but she still does it. I have been ruthless about giving it away lately unless it's something the kids LOVE.
It's not them who has to find the million pieces of broken plastic crap all over their house & yard & dispose of them. Yesterday we spent an hour that could've been playing or gardening (with me directing them) picking up the gazillion little things like plastic twisty straws and cheap cards and just, junk that they got for 'graduation'. It was miserable- I tried to make it light, a 'game', a 'race', but bottom line, it was garbage picking and we all knew it.

I've begged for things like memberships and lessons (or good art supplies, etc). Nothing but WalGreens garbage, a barrage of it.
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Old 05-21-2007, 02:51 PM
 
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I think amyable has the right idea. It is hard to bear when you've got small children & heavy expenses & they get cheap plastic junk instead of useful toys, art supplies, clothes or lessons. Been there, done that.

From the other side of the fence, though, I've tried & tried to buy meaningful gifts for my 3 grandchildren & with one or two exceptions have not succeeded.

Example: it became clear early on oldest dgd was not a girly girl & wanted to be outdoors playing rough & tumble activities as did her brother 20 months younger. I remembered that my own kids loved a gift from their aunt that was a deal you hung between 2 points--trees, buildings, whatever & jumped on holding with your hands to ride down the wire from point a to b. Here's a link to show what I'm talking about:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_t/...0&Go.y=0&Go=Go

Anyway, it was expensive but I figured it would be the main gift for both kids (youngest wasn't born yet). They live in the country in a mobile home with hundreds of trees on their property. The kids liked to be outside, liked active play--you'd think this would be a winner, wouldn't you? No small parts, nothing to make noise, nothing to ever pick up or put away. Except my daughter & sil never got it put up for them despite the fact that sil was laid off so there were two parents home full time. It still makes me sad, because I do think they would have gotten a lot of fun & play value out of it & it would have had none of the disadvantages that so many folks have had with their relatives & gifts.
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:06 PM
 
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Oh man, Ruth...I am right there with you!
My mom always goes overboard (as does MIL) when it comes to gifts. For their birthdays, they both asked me what I thought the kids would like...yeah. Big waste of breath. They ended up either going with my ideas and getting about 5 different versions of the same thing, or completely blew me off and ran down the aisles grabbing whatever they thought the kids would like: . I actually can see my mom's eyes widen as she picks a nd pulls little cutesy kid fodder .
Anyhow, I have decided that the next time they want my ideas, I will let them know plainly that I want them to choose one thing for my kids. I am particularly worried about my ds. He seems to think it's easy to get any toy whenever he'd like--MIL stops by with stuff a bit too often--"This was so cute, I couldn't pass it up...". The one blessing is that he does understand our space issues and is willing to store away and freecycle things on occasion.
The hardest part is being gracious about each and every gift without grumbling! I am not a person who will actually request/ask for specific things--I suggest things, but whatever comes of it in the end is the other person's decision. Afterall, it is a gift. Gifts are supposed to come from the heart. So, if their heart points them toward the little plastic remote control tractor, so be it. The kids are enjoying it. I am okay with that. Just don't go overboard and buy one in each color!!

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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Old 05-21-2007, 03:38 PM
 
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My MIL and mom do not buy my kids things between birthdays or Christmas. I have gotten very vocal about anticonsumerism. Last year for Christmas my parents got the boys winter coats (Carharts), hats, good gloves and two movies. Since the boys have outside chores all winter, regardless of weather conditions, they were super happy. MIL will usually do fair. She'll buy decent big gifts but then does this scavenger hunt (read here junk hunt) that gets all this crappy little stuff the kids play with for a hour then pitch.

This year for Christmas I am going to request half of their allotted money go into Barnes and Noble gift cards. They usually get spent around 100$ each. So fifty dollars in the reduced section of BN will get them quite a bit.
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Old 05-21-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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I simply accept her gifts with a smile and a thankyou, and I keep what we can use and pass along the things we can't...It isn't worth it to me to hurt her by rejecting her gifts...because to her, the gifts are an extension of herself and to reject them means we reject her...
What a great way to deal with this situation, thanks for posting it. I need to keep this in mind when my MIL suggests another Buzz Lightyear action figure...Sometimes its hard to remember that she is just trying to express her love for ds or wants to give him something she thinks he'll like. As the grandma, I guess they dont think about the long term consequences of stuff, they are just spoiling.

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...She'll buy decent big gifts but then does this scavenger hunt (read here junk hunt) that gets all this crappy little stuff the kids play with for a hour then pitch.....
This sounds like a special tradition, I bet your kids love it, despite the cheapy toys.
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Old 05-21-2007, 05:37 PM
 
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after having gone through painful experiences, i'm also in the process of learning "you can't change them." i figure: i have a hard enough time changing myself, how can i change someone twice as old as me. or my IL's, FHS.

Don Aslett talks about this in his book Clutter's Last stand and gives the example of flowers. What if someone gave you flowers? You would ooh, ahh, display them, appreciate them, and when they wilted, toss them out.
With premanent objects, it ought to be the same. Receive it, express appreciation, enjoy it as much as you can, then toss it out (or donate, recycle, freecycle, sell, etc). It's the thought that counts!
IMO, though, asking someone to respect my boundaries is not changing them as a person. Asking my MIL to refrain from reading Christian books to my toddler is not asking her to stop being a Christian, but rather asking her to not impose her religion on us. Asking my mom to not bash my dad in my house is not asking her to change her feelings towards him, but rather asking her to not impose her bitterness on us. And likewise, asking relatives to limit their gift giving is not asking them to change their consumerism, but rather asking them to not impose it on us. In fact, I could argue that by continually breaking our boundaries on gifts, they are asking me to change into a person who is consumeristic and who equates objects with love, and why should they have the right to expect me to change?

Using the flower example, if a person had explained to the gift giver that the flowers aggravated her allergies and asthma, then I would have the same boundary issues with a person who continued to give the flowers. Continuing to give or do something after you have been asked to stop is overstepping a boundary, period.

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From the other side of the fence, though, I've tried & tried to buy meaningful gifts for my 3 grandchildren & with one or two exceptions have not succeeded.
This side of the story is interesting to me, and I'd like to hear more. Before you give a present, do you clear it with the parents first? Do you ask the parents what the child needs or wants?

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You need to come to peace with the fact that you can't make her change, you can't make her do what you want. I finally got to that place, a few months before my mom died. Now, I'd accept happily any crappy stuff she gave the kids if only I had her with me again.
I'm so sorry that you lost your mom, and I agree that people shouldn't take for granted the people they love. However, I don't think that gratitude should have to extend to things like boundary breaking and emotional manipulation.
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Old 05-21-2007, 06:38 PM
 
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Ruthla, I thought of something while I was out hanging laundry. When my in-laws give DD a present that we don't have room for, can't use, etc., we have started telling them, "We don't have room for this right now, but I'm sure DD could play with it here at your house." Now, my in-laws are the ones are starting to accumulate a room full of junky toys.
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Old 05-21-2007, 06:45 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Jennisee View Post
"We don't have room for this right now, but I'm sure DD could play with it here at your house."
We do this, too.

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Old 05-21-2007, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ruthla, I thought of something while I was out hanging laundry. When my in-laws give DD a present that we don't have room for, can't use, etc., we have started telling them, "We don't have room for this right now, but I'm sure DD could play with it here at your house." Now, my in-laws are the ones are starting to accumulate a room full of junky toys.
That would work beautifully if I didn't live with my Mom. She and Dad have the downstairs part of the house, we have the upstairs part.

I already do that with the really bulky toys she *used to* purchase for DS at garage sales. But what about non-toys? She's not about to return to the college 4ish hours away to return unwanted binders. But I can't ask my kids to "play with' the binders downstairs either!

She IS pretty good about buying clothes for the kids and then returning what doesn't fit/they don't like/I don't approve of- whatever won't get worn.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19, Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 13(homeschooled)
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Old 05-21-2007, 07:06 PM
 
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Jennisse, my grandchildren are 11, 9 & 4. I used to always ask my daughter before each gift-giving occasion & she'd inevitably say "Oh, they'd like anything". However, I noticed some things & tried to adjust accordingly. For instance, the 11-year old's birthday is less than 2 weeks after Christmas which means not only may I be fresh out of ideas, but the stores are picked over. So sometimes I try to get something that's not a standard toy, but that kids like anyway. A sleeping bag & flashlight come to mind. When younger she was crazy about Junie B.Jones & Magic Tree books so that was easy enough.
It's always been difficult, though. For her first birthday Dh & I bought an unfinished child-sized Adirondack chair & handpainted it with designs for her. Figured even after she was too big to sit in it she could use it in her room for dolls or stuffed animals. Anyway, we put rainbows & clouds & hearts & similar designs freehand on it & it turned out prety cute. Less than 6 months after her birthday we went to see them & it was broken in pieces, thrown under their mobile home. Her THIRTEEN YEAR OLD cousin sat in it & smashed it, a la Goldilocks.

I got dgs a wagon when he was around 4 & his uncle drove over it & destroyed it.

One of their aunts gave them a Trouble game, which has the bubble top you push to know how many spaces to move. An older cousin stepped on it, smashed the bubble so it had to be pitched. Do you see a pattern here? So for the past few years I try to find something they'll like but am never very hopeful of (a) being successful or (b) any item lasting longer than a week.
Obviously, the oldest is old enough to take care of her things now, but not able to control others around her so its still never a certainty a gift will be liked & last.
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Old 05-21-2007, 07:29 PM
 
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That would work beautifully if I didn't live with my Mom.
Ouch, that really complicates things. In that case, I think your best bet is to try to gently explain to her the things you put in your OP--no room, your daughters are picky, you don't want her to waste her money, etc. If that still doesn't work, then I think your only option is to purge mercilesssly and without guilt. I know how much it sucks, though.

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I used to always ask my daughter before each gift-giving occasion & she'd inevitably say "Oh, they'd like anything".
In that case, they asked for it. But, seriously, if that was her answer, then I don't think the frustration expressed in this thread applies to you. It sounds like you've made an effort to respect her boundaries.
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Old 05-21-2007, 07:36 PM
 
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Oh, I try to do that all right. If it wasn't my original intention, being scarred for life after seeing the approximately 24"x 18" pink plastic unicorn with irridescent mane & tail that looked like polyester cotton candy given to C. by her other grandmother would have scared me straight on the spot!
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