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#61 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 04:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
No, I don't think this is a relative issue. There are forms of entertainment that are inseparable from the pain they cause others or imaginary hurting of others (violent toys, pornography) or which are addictive (lottery tickets, drugs... okay, I'm not sure who's giving drugs to kids but that is not my point). I can see saying, "Look, this thing is harmful. My child can't have it."

However, a fairy tale doll, marketed by Disney or not, is really, really hard to fit into that box. I don't see it as a slippery slope. All characters in stories live in unjust worlds. There is no perfect narrative, and if it is, I can assure you it lives at the bottom of a landfill in obscurity because it's boring.
I think this is just all subjective. Yes, you disagree with the OP that characters are harmful. That's fine, you have a right to your opinion. The OP has a different opinon. She believes that characters are harmful.

So my attempt was to steer away from the subjective part and on to the core issue. We could all go round and round about whether it is ok to let little Johnny eat gummy worms or something loaded with sugar and dyes. Some people see them as absolutely harmless. Others see them as toxic and with lasting effects. We're not going to agree, so the question is, is it ok for little Johnny's grandmother to buy him gummy worms if his mother believes they are toxic for him?

And yes, whether you actually agree with it or not, there IS a case to be made for gummy worms - and characters - as being toxic for children. I don't have enough hubris to be able to proclaim on behalf of the whole world what the answer really is and shut the discussion down for those who disagree with me.

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Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
And I'm not reading anything into the mom or OP here. Frankly, I don't think that what kind of person she is to the mom should interfere with her relationship with the granddaughter, unless it gets massively screwed up in its own right. I'm not saying her mom is normal or great or bad or anything. I have no idea. I just don't think it bears on her relationship with her granddaughter.
Of course it does. If you have a toxic, controlling, manipulative grandmother, she is going to be toxic, controlling and manipulative to her granddaughter as well as her daughter. Is the OP's mother toxic? I don't know. Certainly enough people saw enough red flags to consider it a possibility.

Open question to everyone: does ANYONE know of a TOXIC mother who is not toxic to their grandkids? Not just a mother with some foibles (like my own) but a TOXIC mother who approaches the whole world on her own agenda and is willing to use other people, including her own child(ren) to acheive it?

It's not like the grandmother is suddenly a new person when a granddaughter is introduced. She is who she is, and she will use the same methods of interacting with people as she has used in the past. That goes for regular people, toxic people, and saints as well.

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Family is family, and that is about accepting what you got.
I know some people feel that no matter how toxic your family is, you should stick with them. I don't agree, though. I think toxicity is not something to be lived with, but to be healed. And unfortunately, by their very nature, toxic people will not be healed.

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I think that nobody here should be judging either the OP or her mom, because all we know is that MIL got the child a toy, the OP took it away, and the mom replaced it. And I do think the mom is right if she believes that she has a right to her OWN relationship with the grandchild, apart from any issues she has or does not have with her daughter.
When did buying a toy expressly forbidden by the mother become the crux of her relationship with her granddaughter? If buying a toy to undermine the mother is the basis of the relationship, how valuable is it?

Of course, I allow that the grandmother may have bought it in totally good faith - maybe misunderstood or something. But that's not what you're saying. You're saying that the grandmother's right to do whatever she wants, even if that involves manipulation, undermining and passive-aggression, is strictly between her and the (minor) child, and the mother has no right to interfere, even to protect her own child. Because family is family.

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#62 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 05:20 PM
 
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And I do think the mom is right if she believes that she has a right to her OWN relationship with the grandchild, apart from any issues she has or does not have with her daughter.
Oh, I respectfully but most emphatically disagree.

(And bless you, Laohaire, for getting it. )

If someone has a strained relationship with me because of their abusive/manipulative actions, there is no way I'm giving them unfettered access to my child.

Family means everything to me. I had wonderful relationships with my grandparents and I cherish the strong bonds between my children and their (mentally) healthy grandparents. I do all that I can to facilitate those relationships.

But if there is a lifetime of treating me poorly that is only reigned in because I'm now an adult and don't have to take it, then that person is lucky to have any sort of contact with my children. I'm going to monitor it like a hawk and nip issues in the bud.

P.S. Gummy worms are yummy.

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#63 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 05:47 PM
 
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If someone has a strained relationship with me because of their abusive/manipulative actions, there is no way I'm giving them unfettered access to my child.
I guess I just cannot see how anyone would think that buying their grandaughter a Snow White doll (that the child did like according to the OP) is abusive.
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#64 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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I guess I just cannot see how anyone would think that buying their grandaughter a Snow White doll (that the child did like according to the OP) is abusive.
I don't think so, either. I'm refering to many previous years of psychological abuse and manipulative actions.

If the OP's mother has been repeatedly asked not to get character items and repeatedly does so, then to me, that can be seen as being manipulative. Especially the part where the grandmother does this in front of the OP and child, thus causing the OP either to "make a scene" or to ignore the boundary violation.

Truly... and I mean this most sincerely... I am so glad that the majority of posters can't even imagine what a genuinely manipulative mother is like.

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#65 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 06:29 PM
 
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If said grandparent is as toxic as many are assuming, then said grandparent shouldn't be spending alone time with said grandchild.

If one really feels like someone is a negative influence and will damage a child, why on earth are they going off places by themselves? If indeed said grandparents *can* be trusted alone with your kid, then they can be trusted to have their own relationship with their grandchild.

You can't have it both ways- you can't allow someone to gallivant across town with your kid while dictating their relationship. If someone is so manipulative and toxic that every gesture they make toward your child is actually an attack on you and your parenting, that person ought not to have unsupervised access to your child.

Doctors aren't out to kill you or your children. Childbirth isn't inherently safe. Science is actually smarter than your intuition. Lighten up. Use sunscreen.

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#66 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 07:12 PM
 
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veering off topic for a bit but why not the easy bake oven?
I only ask because I'm slightly fascinated by it and would've wanted one as a child. Is it a safety risk?
Sounds funny doesn't it. It started off because the mixes for the oven are fairly expensive for what you get and I don't want to waist my money on that (she'd be free to use her own money, but she doesn't have any ) Now, it's because her little brother seems to be allergic/intolerant to gluten and dairy and none of the mixes are gf or df. I would feel really mean allowing dd to have something and telling ds no (and we're limiting his sugar intake so I don't want to make a gf, df treat for him.)

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#67 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 07:14 PM
 
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Note to self: when sending keepsakes for parents to keep for children as memories of Christmases gone by, include explicit instructions for parents in the card itself.

My mom kept ornaments from a great aunt for us each year. We got to hang them on the tree when we were older, and take them with us when married. I think of her every time and I'm amazed as well that you gave them to your babies.
I would have done that, trust me! But we get together for Christmas with them every year and she actually just handed the ornaments to the boys when my SIL and I were both looking away. There is NO WAY we would have handed them over!

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#68 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 07:52 PM
 
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If said grandparent is as toxic as many are assuming, then said grandparent shouldn't be spending alone time with said grandchild.

If one really feels like someone is a negative influence and will damage a child, why on earth are they going off places by themselves? If indeed said grandparents *can* be trusted alone with your kid, then they can be trusted to have their own relationship with their grandchild.

You can't have it both ways- you can't allow someone to gallivant across town with your kid while dictating their relationship. If someone is so manipulative and toxic that every gesture they make toward your child is actually an attack on you and your parenting, that person ought not to have unsupervised access to your child.
But there is a lot of gray area here!!

Some grandparents are practically *perfect* and you can easily trust them to take care of your child both physically & mentally/emotionally/spiritually... other grandparents may be great at keeping a child physically safe but perhaps overstep some emotional boundaries or vice versa... And some cannot be trusted in any regard. I'm not really sure how to clearly explain what I mean (haven't slept in 3 days lol) but what I'm trying to say is that things aren't always as black & white as what you've stated. I don't think buying a Snow White doll is a reason to not allow grandma & daughter to go out together (unless this is just part of a larger problem), but I do think the OP's mom needs to respect her daughter's wishes. This is no different than if my mom fed my vegan son a cupcake made with dairy/eggs -- sure, there are worse offenses, but that clearly oversteps a boundary I have set that I believe is in my DS's best interest.

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#69 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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Personally, and I'm saying this in the most gentle way possible, I'd just let it go.

The way I look at it is I try not to criticize the gifts my kid's Grandparents (and Great-Grandparents) buy for them.

My Grandmother, every year, would faithfully buy Barbies, Doras, Tranformers, Disneyish toys/books for my kid's birthdays and Christmases.

I never said a negative thing about any of it, not to the kid's, or even DH (although I often rolled my eyes at yet another Barbie) .

But I knew she loved buying for them, she was old and it made her happy.

She passed away last month and I'm so glad I never wasted a single moment griping to her about the gifts she bought for my kids, or to the kids about the gifts she bought.


Same with the Christmas my Dad found a massive Barbie camper for DD - complete with a swimming pool and disco lights at someone's curb on garbage day.
He took it home and spent days cleaning it, oiling all the moving parts, geez, my Mom even made real bedding for Barbie's bed. And wouldn't you know it, DH's elderly aunt sent a Bratz doll in the mail for DD - complete with hooker boots and a miniskirt.
Even though DH and I completely disapproved of the whole shebang - he claimed that the Bratz doll was turning tricks in the camper while DD was sleeping we never said anything negative to my folks, or his aunt.

I just think if it's a gift given with love for the receiver then really, there's not a whole lot wrong with it.
Beautiful story!!!

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I guess I just cannot see how anyone would think that buying their grandaughter a Snow White doll (that the child did like according to the OP) is abusive.
Word.

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#70 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 10:47 PM
 
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I would have done that, trust me! But we get together for Christmas with them every year and she actually just handed the ornaments to the boys when my SIL and I were both looking away. There is NO WAY we would have handed them over!
Had you seen the ornaments before the boys had them? If you hadn't, cynical me is wondering if they were already broken.
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#71 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 11:19 PM
 
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Had you seen the ornaments before the boys had them? If you hadn't, cynical me is wondering if they were already broken.
We heard them break.

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#72 of 83 Old 07-27-2010, 11:29 PM
 
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Open question to everyone: does ANYONE know of a TOXIC mother who is not toxic to their grandkids? Not just a mother with some foibles (like my own) but a TOXIC mother who approaches the whole world on her own agenda and is willing to use other people, including her own child(ren) to acheive it?
Yes and no.

My mother definitely could qualify. As my powerhouse quick example, I was abused and raped as a child by a relative. This all came out in my early 20s and is well known. My mother inherited one of the chairs over which I was raped along with the matching ottoman. When she put them in her home I explained that I would not go into her home while they were there and I explained why even more bluntly than I just put it here.

It took 2 years of only meeting her on the porch or in public spaces before she got rid of the chair...and she still. has. the. ottoman. These are not priceless antiques either, nor is she without financial resources.

She is a pretty decent grandmother to my son, so far. I'm careful about certain things but I have honestly been bowled over by how much further she can get around her own limitations out of love for him than she can get with me or my sister. I can't say I am expecting this will last forever as my son gets older and less adoring but I have been glad I maintained the relationship - it's a plus - and I didn't think I would be saying that 5 years into it.

But I have to say...this is why I don't sweat the small stuff. For me anything important is completely non-negotiable (hitting, belittling, teasing). If there were dietary issues those would come a close second. But I try to focus my communication on that. If there were 4000 rules I'm pretty sure we'd just be in constant argument and then when it counted I'm not sure it would have the same impact.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#73 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 01:50 AM
 
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You cannot, nor should you, control all aspects of the way your child interacts with the world.

The doll only has the power you give it - both in terms of what your daughter perceives it as and what you see it symbolize within the context of your relationship with your mother.

So you can use it as a great starting point to talk to your daughter about everything from fairy stories around the world to sweatshops to accepting a gift graciously and with an open heart even if you aren't sure that was the way it was intended to be given.

I have a MIL who didn't get some of my parenting parameters with my oldest (and I freely admit they were uptight first time parent things ). And our relationship was ripe for a power struggle. But somewhere along the line I finally woke up to the fact that she adored my kid(s) and that was expotentially more important in their lives and in mine than if she let them watch a disney movie.

She still chooses some stuff I wouldn't - lol she feeds my kids snicker sandwiches - peanut butter, slices of a snickers chocolate bar on buttered white bread and all lightly toasted. I kid you not. Omg it's gross and hilarious at the same time. But they LOVE that they feel so special that she will do that for them and I love that when they are parents themselves they will tell stories about the wacky food she gave them and remember how she made them feel so loved.

You can absolutely choose what toys you want for your daughter. But (and I say this gently) are you going to prioritize the right "things" over a relationship. Is that the message you want to teach your daughter? If it isn't going to matter a year from now that your daughter once owned a Snow White doll (and it sounds like the first doll wasn't an issue for *her*), is it worth putting your energy there? Fifteen years from now when you have to explain this situation to your kid, what is the take away that you want her to have from it. I'd start there.

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#74 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 04:12 AM
 
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I am the Mom. If I say my child can't have something and my mother buys it not once but TWICE she is showing total disrespect for me as a parent.
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#75 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 04:53 AM
 
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I think this is just all subjective. Yes, you disagree with the OP that characters are harmful. That's fine, you have a right to your opinion. The OP has a different opinon. She believes that characters are harmful.
But everything can be harmful in one way or another. Legos made with petroleum products. Wooden toys harming the forest. Even Montessori toys are considered by some to be too strict, Waldorf to be implicitly racist, mainstream to be sexist... there is a case to be made for some amount of harm, but there really is not a case to be made for the fact that one dolly is going to physically or psychologically scar a child for life. Or the maker. Really, I would like to see that case made. I think it's based on a really weak argument that relies on guilt by association.


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Of course it does. If you have a toxic, controlling, manipulative grandmother, she is going to be toxic, controlling and manipulative to her granddaughter as well as her daughter. Is the OP's mother toxic? I don't know. Certainly enough people saw enough red flags to consider it a possibility.
Every time someone on MDC complains about their DH, and I have seen this, they get oodles of recommendations for books about abuse, and the same for moms. I once posted about my mom. SHe's passive-aggressive. She was irritating me and I was pregnant and hormonal. I got a huge response saying I should cut all ties with her. Wow! I was like... she's imperfect, she's human, but she's not evil or anything. I love my mom.

Kind of like every baby that doesn't STTN gets the suggestion of being tested for a dairy or wheat allergy.

Do these things exist? Yes! Are they important? Yes! However, everyone is seeing their own issues in this and there is precious, precious little information. All this is filtered through the OP, and however nice she may be, she's not perfect. Nobody is.


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Open question to everyone: does ANYONE know of a TOXIC mother who is not toxic to their grandkids? Not just a mother with some foibles (like my own) but a TOXIC mother who approaches the whole world on her own agenda and is willing to use other people, including her own child(ren) to acheive it?
But honestly... why would you assume that this is the case?

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It's not like the grandmother is suddenly a new person when a granddaughter is introduced. She is who she is, and she will use the same methods of interacting with people as she has used in the past. That goes for regular people, toxic people, and saints as well.
Actually, from a distance, she might have a much more normal relationship with the child. I find that toxic people often choose particular victims and then are normal to others.


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I know some people feel that no matter how toxic your family is, you should stick with them. I don't agree, though. I think toxicity is not something to be lived with, but to be healed. And unfortunately, by their very nature, toxic people will not be healed.
Here is where we disagree massively. I do not think that there is one person on this planet beyond redemption, beyond hope. Not one single person. (Can we change them? No. But they can change, and we can forgive.)

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When did buying a toy expressly forbidden by the mother become the crux of her relationship with her granddaughter? If buying a toy to undermine the mother is the basis of the relationship, how valuable is it?
It's not the toy. It's about them having their own space that the mother does not control, unless there is imminent danger. And I'm sorry, if you are reacting to a Snow White doll as imminent danger, then you not only live a very isolated and privileged life, but you also have some priorities out of whack.

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You're saying that the grandmother's right to do whatever she wants, even if that involves manipulation, undermining and passive-aggression, is strictly between her and the (minor) child, and the mother has no right to interfere, even to protect her own child. Because family is family.
No, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that except in cases of imminent danger, she should. Because the OP did not post about spanking, potty-training, feeding junk food, using foul language, or anything NEAR manipulation.

She BOUGHT HER A DOLL AND REPLACED IT. The mom didn't like the doll. Is that "manipulation, undermining, and passive aggression"? Is that imminent danger? Your kid is going to face bullies and sexual harassment on the street in five years max, and you are putting that kind of stuff on the same level as a doll?

If you think so, I think you are risking putting a lot of people and things in the "toxic" category that don't deserve to be there. Lots of people are selfish and clueless but at least have a kind heart.

Million to one what this grandma thought was, "Mom said she doesn't buy character things. Something about sexism or whatnot. These poor girls today, can't even have dollies without someone saying they're sexist. I used to love my dollies! At least DGD can play dollies with me, even if her mama doesn't want to. Now where's that Snow White doll?"

And that's assuming that the daughter didn't bring it up, because even though she doesn't bring it up to her mom, she might have to grandma.

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I would have done that, trust me! But we get together for Christmas with them every year and she actually just handed the ornaments to the boys when my SIL and I were both looking away. There is NO WAY we would have handed them over!
Holy cow. Wow. Okay, I see your point! That's... in need of help. Not sure where she came up with that idea. Wow, my mouth keeps dropping open, LOL! That sucks, what a situation to be in. "Do not feed baby glass." One of those rules you wouldn't think you'd need to write down!

Now, a lot of you are talking about abusive parents that hurt and hit and manipulated. Okay, I can see that. But if you think that giving someone a doll and replacing it is a sign of abuse, then... I am not sure whether we have anything close to the same starting point. I know the mom said "no" but we have no idea what the words were that she used to express that, and how grandma interprets things, and so on. I mean there is a certain level of willful ignorance that woman in each previous generation had to maintain to survive. My cousin mentioned how amazingly blind to the obvious evils of the world depression-era women are... as if on too much Prozac, only not. They just had to develop that to survive. It's a foible, not a toxic, abusive character trait, yk?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#76 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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OP - are you still around? Any thoughts?
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#77 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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wow, I was just reading through in thinking that, this is totally my family and I'd love to see how others handle this...

I think some posters took this way over the top. This EXACT same situation could have happened in my home with either my mother or MIL or dd's bio grandparents. We don't do tv characters in book or toy form, we don't have a tv and dd watches an occasional nature based movie on the computer. it's the way we live in our home. Dd's extended family all know the details of why we do this and still go outside these boundaries all the time. We talk it over with dd and usually rid our home of the toy or book or movie. Sometimes they end up at a grandparents house, or a friends place. But they don't stay in our home.

I don't think any of her grandparents are toxic or passive aggressive really. I think they just plain and simple don't get it and don't want to get it. They want to pick out things that they think dd will like and sometimes that is a barbie castle because dd is into a doll house with little wooden princesses and fairies. They don't know how to shop online and find things at little family run businesses or places like magic cabin and they want to choose things themselves. Nonetheless, I still explain that we don't do these toys. Like one of the pp mentioned, repetition...and model by example...all her gifts from us that are given during family occasions.

Sure a snow white doll isn't harming the child really...but it is skewing the activity of her imagination when she hears story books containing princesses. I love to imagine what dd's mind must draw up when we read together about certain characters in our stories. I think SHE loves what she creates...and I have seen her disappointment when she sees what the characters look like in pictures if the books have pictures, she WANTS to create her own images.

I don't necessarily take things away by having them disappear, but I do talk to dd about why something might need a new home (the barbie castle is at a friends place who plays with barbies). I don't have to validate myself to her grandparents, I just keep repeating that this is the way I choose to raise my child. And if their only method of formulating a good relationship with dd is through gift giving then they seriously need to re-evaluate anyways. I know that dd and her grandparents create relationships that are meaningful through the things they do together, not through gift giving. My mother probably gets this more than any of them because I can be most forth coming with her...but she still does it sometimes...and sure she gets all sensitive and says "ugh...you are so picky, you know this is going to backfire on you one day"...but we don't let it get in the middle of our relationship (which is and always has been lovely) and dd and her have a fantastic relationship. Now dd is at the point where she will tell my mom what things she thinks are appropriate and if she doesn't know will tell her to call and ask me. it works for us...

alas I was still hoping for other ideas.
what a twist on the OP's questions this thread became.

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#78 of 83 Old 07-28-2010, 02:22 PM
 
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I am the Mom. If I say my child can't have something and my mother buys it not once but TWICE she is showing total disrespect for me as a parent.
I'd consider that an overreaction.
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#79 of 83 Old 07-29-2010, 03:42 PM
 
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I think the OP should calmly say "Mom, I feel disrespected when you buy things that you know I don't approve of for my kids. Yet this Snow White doll seemed to really matter to you - enough that you would buy it twice even though you know it goes against my values." Then just see what Mom has to say. Maybe she'll just pretend she didn't realize (and if she's this cowardly, she probably won't buy anything like that again), or maybe it will open up a dialogue about everybody's feelings. I think this is the best way to stop passive-aggressive behavior in its tracks. Calmly open up about your own hurt feelings (not another explanation of your values, which are not really at issue here), and hopefully Mom will explain how she feels, and maybe understanding each other's feelings will lead the way to a compromise.

But I know staying calm is not easy. I have issues with my FIL and the food he feeds DD, and when he does it in front of me, I get so angry that I have to stay quiet because if I speak, it will be in language unfit for DD's little ears. One day I'll figure out how to calmly tell him how I feel.
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#80 of 83 Old 07-29-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LaFlaca1226 View Post
I think the OP should calmly say "Mom, I feel disrespected when you buy things that you know I don't approve of for my kids. Yet this Snow White doll seemed to really matter to you - enough that you would buy it twice even though you know it goes against my values." Then just see what Mom has to say. Maybe she'll just pretend she didn't realize (and if she's this cowardly, she probably won't buy anything like that again), or maybe it will open up a dialogue about everybody's feelings. I think this is the best way to stop passive-aggressive behavior in its tracks. Calmly open up about your own hurt feelings (not another explanation of your values, which are not really at issue here), and hopefully Mom will explain how she feels, and maybe understanding each other's feelings will lead the way to a compromise.

But I know staying calm is not easy. I have issues with my FIL and the food he feeds DD, and when he does it in front of me, I get so angry that I have to stay quiet because if I speak, it will be in language unfit for DD's little ears. One day I'll figure out how to calmly tell him how I feel.
Such good advice!

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#81 of 83 Old 07-30-2010, 09:50 PM
 
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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.
yep that exactly. though my mum is getting really good cause she knows my 3 don't know characters and my sis's kids do (so they get the commercial junk)
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#82 of 83 Old 07-31-2010, 03:48 PM
 
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I understand your concerns.
However- what is the most important thing here? That she gets toys that pass your test, or that she has an involved loving grandmother? My mom died a few months ago and I really wasted time and put added strain on our relationship with things like this.
I wish I hadn't. They aren't as important as one thinks.
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#83 of 83 Old 07-31-2010, 07:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by VillageMom6 View Post
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!
I agree with all of this, except maybe the last sentence. MY mother wouldn't stop, on the contrary she would be urged on to cause more provocation (pretending that she couldn't understand why her daughter was being so horrible to her), determined not to "lose". Your mother sounds pretty manipulative, so maybe she's of the same ilk - but maybe not.
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