My husband and I have a one and a half year old son and this story happened around his 1st birthday. My husband’s mother, Frances asked us what she should get for our son’s 1st birthday. I told her (a number of times, because she inquired a number of times) to keep purchases very modest. Maybe books, clothes or simple baby necessities. He is only 1 and really doesn’t need large, expensive toys. But maybe he is starting to grow out of the size pants he has, and maybe an extra package or two of diapers would be a nice thing to have on hand.
I explained this to Frances (pretty sternly) about not wanting my 1-year old to have tons of toys. That is a personal choice my husband and I have made for our child, mostly because we don’t want to create a pattern of over-stimulation or always needing to be stimulated by something loud and flashy, and that is just what we’ve chosen for our family.
For our son’s 1st birthday, we did not throw a big family bash. We had a very nice little party at home, just the three of us and a little cake. About 6pm, Frances shows up at the house uninvited, with about 3 different large sized presents in tow. Ok. Husband’s father and step-mother stopped by earlier in the day to wish our son a happy birthday, so no biggie. Husband’s step-mother got our son some new clothes and a couple books. Perfect! But Frances bought three large, flashy, loud toys, along with 4 or 5 other small toys. To say the least, it irked me, simply because I had asked her not to buy those toys specifically, and explained why we did not want them. A couple times!
I understand grandparents especially like to spoil their grandchildren. It’s fun to buy presents for babies, period. I get that. But I think people need to understand that especially when a child is only 1 year old, you really should listen to the parents about gifts.When a child is that young, I think the parents need more things FOR the baby (clothes, diapers, new bottles, etc) than the baby actually needs for himself.
My question is, would it be wrong for me to return these gifts? I understand these are just toys, but this is a choice my husband and I have made for our family and I do believe that my son will turn out to be a well-adjusted boy despite the fact that he does not have tens and tens of toys to play with every which way he turns.
Any advice would be great! 1113-11
My husband and I had a similar problem with a grandparent after the birth of our first child. Despite recommendations that we celebrate Christmas modestly and to please limit her gift giving to a few small items, Grandmother B sent a huge box filled with many gifts. We thanked her, gave two or three of the gifts to our daughter from the box and then put the remainder in storage. Over the next year we raided the stash for new gifts to give her and regifted a few for other children. I may have donated some as well.
Etiquette doesn’t really permit the recipient to dictate to the giver what they should or should not be giving. When asked it is perfectly polite to give suggestions and recommendations but any more direction starts to gain the appearance of micromanaging other people’s generosity. We should be loathe to curtail generosity in a typically stingy, me centered world. The trick is to figure out how to encourage generosity in other areas such as writing letters to the child, building their personal library, or opportunities and adventures the child might not otherwise have. Grandfather A was the complete opposite of Grandmother B in that he was very frugal in his gift giving but he was very generous in providing experiences that Dear Son still remembers and treasures many years later.
Grandmother B continued to send many gifts to the kids over the years and eventually tapered off as she slowly realized her gifts were not necessary to ensure the love of a child. In response to her overly ambitious generosity, we began encouraging our children to give gifts on their birthday to counter the perception that they are owed a mountain of gifts.
There will be a few comments that suggest that grandparents ignore their children’s wishes for they wish to raise their children to which I say, the answer to the dilemma is still the same. Have an attitude that one cannot dictate the generosity of others, accept gifts graciously and with appropriate thanks, and then feel free to dispose/regift any way you choose.