Open Thread

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  1. Angela L.

    My husband and I recently had our first baby. We live in a different state from all his family, but maintain a good relationship with all of them. His 3 adult brothers have not even sent a card to celebrate the occasion. Each could afford to send something and each is single. They similarity did not give us gifts at our wedding until I mentioned it to my mother-in-law. Am I beings petty in my expectation of at least a card (we have talked with each one once on the phone since the birth)? Or should I say something and if so what/how should I say?

    • Elizabeth

      I wouldn’t say anything. Your husband should call his brothers with the good news. It is up to him to maintain good relations with his brothers. You cannot manage it for him. They do not owe you a gift, but it would be nice for them to acknowledge the new arrival. If they have called or otherwise communicated about it already, they may have considered their obligation fulfilled. Frankly they sound a bit clueless, is that how they were raised? Once they marry and have children, you can bet their perspective will change!

    • Alicia

      You should never expect gifts from people. So yes it is unreasonable. Some people never send cards. If they have verbally wished their congratulations that is a lot. I will admit I did not send cards or gifts when my nieces and nephew were born however the first time I saw each kid I had something for them. I think you are taking offense where none is meant and yes being a smidge petty and should not say anything for risk of sounding gift grubby.
      Congrats on the kid! Enjoy parenthood!

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      Gifts are not required per se; however they are a gesture of caring and you would think the child’s uncles would want to show that they care. I have noticed that sometimes young adult men in particular for whatever reason don’t pick up on social norms such as when to give gifts, especially when they are still living with parents or haven’t been on their own very long and are accustomed to Mom writing their names on the card and not having to think about it themselves. I don’t know if that’s the case with your brothers-in-law. I say this not to justify their behavior but just to say that it likely isn’t personal. It is possible they are waiting until they see you in person to give their gifts (though I doubt it considering the lack of wedding present). In any case you cannot say something about it. It is rude to suggest gift giving, and even if it weren’t it would defeat the purpose of showing that they care by giving from the heart.

  2. jnoreenj

    Grateful for my sister-in-law & brother-in-law wanting to buy gifts for our 21-month-old daughter. However, how do I tactfully request that they ask my husband & I about what they are getting for her? Not for little things – puzzles, books, clothes, etc. I am talking about big things. Kind of over-the-top things that my husband & I would like to get for her. Example: they almost bought a play kitchen at Christmas. Thankfully, my mother-in-law happened to mention that we had already gotten that for her for Christmas. Otherwise, they would’ve just bought it and shipped it to our house. They bought her a huge metal/plastic swingset. My husband & I were planning on getting her a nice wood swingset this spring (when she can actually enjoy it in MN) for her 2nd birthday. Yesterday we just received a sit & spin from them. She already has one. I would never do that. I (and almost everyone I know) would just send a quick text saying “hey I was thinking about getting D this or that or this for her birthday. What do you think? Would she like it? Does she have one?” How do I handle this subject without coming off rude or ungrateful because that is certainly not the case. Extremely frustrated but want to nip this in the bud. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated:)

    • Elizabeth

      Honestly, I think some of the gifts you mention would be an overstep if you (the parents) were not consulted in advance. A swingset is something you have to install and look at all year round. It is not really an appropriate gift without consulting the recipient. The others are more easily returned if you already have one. I would not be so concerned about who buys the item for your child. They will not know who paid for it, they will only know who set it up for them and who plays with it with them. For duplicates, though, I would call and just say apologetically, “Thanks so much for the thoughtful gift, unfortunately little Sally already has one! Great minds think alike! You know we’re a little guilty of spoiling her, and I feel terrible when you go to all the trouble to get her something and its a duplicate. Why not run your ideas by me in the future, so we can avoid that? For the swingset, I would still return it (and be sure to ask for the receipt and where you should return it), because “due to the weather and the aesthetics of the neighborhood, we’ve decided that a wooden set would last longer and be a better investment.” An alternative would be to simply thank them for the gift and then quietly donate it. If they ask about it after you’ve thanked them, you can be honest. “Oh, Sally already had one, so we thought we’d donate it so another child could enjoy it. Would you prefer that we handle it differently in the future?”

      You may put them off a bit, and it’s true that according to etiquette one should not try to direct gifts but only be an appreciative recipient. However, it sounds like this is close family and they are spending quite a lot on your daughter. I think if you approach it sensitively, that they will be receptive to your message. If they are miffed, then the gifts will either stop or decrease to the smaller gifts you mention, which it sounds like would be just fine with you anyway.

  3. Danielle

    My widowed mom moved out of state and her niece sends her evite invitations to her kids birthday parties in her old state. Obviously she isn’t going to fly over there for those events. Is she obligated to send presents? She already sends gifts for Christmas. (Note that none of the nieces/nephews send birthday cards to my mom and she will occasionally get a thank you card.)

    How long should my mom continue to send gifts to her niece’s and nephew’s children – until what age is appropriate? She stopped giving gifts to the nieces and nephews when they graduated high school. Now she has to give gifts to all of their children (there are 7 and counting) through high school as well?

    Thanks for any advice.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      If she does not go to the parties, she does not have to send a gift. There is nothing saying great aunts need to give gifts regardless of the ages of their great-nieces or nephews. It is entirely up to her discretion whether or not to give and if so how much to spend. Personally I don’t recall ever getting a birthday or Christmas gift from any of my great aunts or uncles.

    • Elizabeth

      A heartfelt note in a card would be a nice way to mark the occasion, with or without the $10 slipped in. But actual physical gifts? No, your mom is not obligated to send gifts. They might be sending the birthday invites as more of a “wish you were here, wish you could come” sort of message – that’s how she should go about interpreting it anyway.

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