Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 05:15:26 PM

Title: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 05:15:26 PM
DH is a wonderful, patient husband and father. He communicates well, and listens (for the most part) to what people say. His mother, on the other hand is not patient and doesn't listen. We have had boundary trampling issues in the past with our family as a whole and DS in particular. We have changed our behavior to keep minimal contact for DH and I with MIL.

DS (14) decided this summer that he would like to have a guitar. I did research and got advice from a few friends that are musicians and picked out the perfect guitar to buy for him. I planned to spend a few hundred this Christmas on an archival quality instrument that he could pass down to his children. My family is on a budget, but we have found it worthwhile to spend the money for a better product than something we could get cheaper.

Somehow, MIL found out about the guitar idea. MIL went out and bought a damaged, used guitar at a resale shop. I am absolutely speechless at this point. Do I continue with my plans to buy DS the guitar? Do I confront MIL? Do I continue to let DS spend time with her?

What would you do in my place?
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Beyond The Veil on November 13, 2012, 05:22:09 PM
My husband would be reading her the riot act. That is high disrespectful and inappropriate, and she clearly disregarded boundaries and your relationship with your child.

Above all else, your husband should be handling it. It's not acceptable.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Jaelle on November 13, 2012, 05:25:45 PM
I agree. He should deal with her ... and tell that you already have a guitar for DS and that's the end of it.

I'm sorry. :(  I'd be livid.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Shoo on November 13, 2012, 05:28:17 PM
I would be so mad, I'm afraid I'd really lose my temper with her, so I'd give the job of reading her the riot act to your husband, where it probably belongs.

And no, I would no longer allow her to spend time with him.  She has lost that privilege, IMO.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Quest_ on November 13, 2012, 05:28:43 PM
That is not okay. She really took it upon herself to (poorly) hijack your gift idea? It was going to be your special present to your son. I would continue as planned. Your MIL will look foolish when she presents the damaged guitar but that's really her problem.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 05:31:56 PM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::)

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 05:32:58 PM
I would give MIL a heads up and let her know you already had the guitar picked out. Continue to give yours. Your son can have two.

Maybe hers can be used if he needs to go somewhere and doesn't want to take the real one. Or maybe it is so awful he never uses it.

It doesn't seem like a really big deal to me, as a bonus instrument seems useful.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Shoo on November 13, 2012, 05:34:58 PM
I would give MIL a heads up and let her know you already had the guitar picked out. Continue to give yours. Your son can have two.

Maybe hers can be used if he needs to go somewhere and doesn't want to take the real one. Or maybe it is so awful he never uses it.

It doesn't seem like a really big deal to me, as a bonus instrument seems useful.

The big deal is that grandma just completely stole the boy's parents' Christmas thunder. That guitar was going to be special.  It was picked out with love, and his parents obviously looked forward to giving him his first guitar.

Grandma took that right away from them.  That's a pretty big deal, IMO.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Hmmmmm on November 13, 2012, 05:38:24 PM
MIL way over stepped her boundaries. 

Since she didn't consult you before buying her guitar, I see no reason why you should consult her before buying the one you want your son to have. 

If on Xmas she throws a fit about you "duplicating" her gift, your DH can say no, it was she who duplicated the gift as it was always your intent to buy your son a guitar and she was well aware of that. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Jaelle on November 13, 2012, 05:39:02 PM
She gave it to him already??  :o >:(

Oh, yeah, that would be it. She would be on a lengthy enforced break, especially with the background about Thanksgiving.

I do still think your DH should be the one to deal with her. Completely let her know that this is not acceptable.

Please continue to give your guitar. It will still be special. :(  I am so sorry.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: CocoCamm on November 13, 2012, 05:46:26 PM
I would give MIL a heads up and let her know you already had the guitar picked out. Continue to give yours. Your son can have two.

Maybe hers can be used if he needs to go somewhere and doesn't want to take the real one. Or maybe it is so awful he never uses it.

It doesn't seem like a really big deal to me, as a bonus instrument seems useful.

The big deal is that grandma just completely stole the boy's parents' Christmas thunder. That guitar was going to be special.  It was picked out with love, and his parents obviously looked forward to giving him his first guitar.

Grandma took that right away from them.  That's a pretty big deal, IMO.

Was he given the guitar already? I read it as that Grandma bought the used guitar with the intention of it being a Christmas gift. If this is the case then the OP will still get to give the first guitar on Christmas morning. If he gets another guitar later in the day or week, especially a used one I highly doubt it will spoil the OPs plan as hers is cooler. Heck even if he does already have the used guitar I bet he's still stoked about the new fancy one!

Thats not to say that Grandma is in the right. If she knew this was the plan then she waaaayyy overstepped and a talking to is in order.

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Outdoor Girl on November 13, 2012, 05:48:38 PM
Not cool at all.  I agree with the others; have DH read her the riot act, gift DS with the quality instrument at Christmas and return/sell the substandard one.  (Unless you/DS wants to keep it as a travelling instrument.)

When my nephews were getting to the point that they'd need a razor to shave, my Dad wanted to buy one for them for the next gift giving occasion.  I suggested that he double check with my brother to make sure my brother didn't care one way or the other about being the person to buy them their first electric razor.  Brother didn't care so my Dad went ahead.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: atirial on November 13, 2012, 05:51:24 PM
I would be furious, not just because of the whole issue of upstaging your gift, but you should probably let your DH handle it as she is his mother.
Somehow, MIL found out about the guitar idea. MIL went out and bought a damaged, used guitar at a resale shop.
This is what I don't get.  A second hand instrument I can understand, but a damaged one not so much. Is it actually useable? If not, is she expecting you to pay for the repairs?

Giving your son a damaged instrument apparently expecting he will give up playing the guitar seems more likely to put him off than encourage a love of playing.

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 06:02:28 PM
I would absolutely still give the guitar you picked out.

I would not discuss it with anybody except DH.


Yours will be the one he takes with him everywhere, the one he plays.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: squeakers on November 13, 2012, 06:34:17 PM
Having a shabby secondhand guitar is good for going camping/at the beach or when the bratty younger cousin wants to play your good guitar.  A damaged non-playing one on the other hand is only good for the fire.

I think it is time to stop discussing any future gifts with your MIL.  If she doesn't know about them she can't try to steal your thunder.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: doodlemor on November 13, 2012, 06:42:32 PM

The big deal is that grandma just completely stole the boy's parents' Christmas thunder. That guitar was going to be special.  It was picked out with love, and his parents obviously looked forward to giving him his first guitar.

Grandma took that right away from them.  That's a pretty big deal, IMO.

I agree with this.  But let your husband handle this.  Grandma is very self centered and entitled.

I play the guitar.  Just because something is shaped like a guitar and has strings doesn't really mean that it is even playable.  I doubt that your son will necessarily want to play the thing that MIL bought.  If it was cheap at a thrift ship, it was there for a reason.  It's quite likely that MIL basically threw her money away.

Cheapo guitars are difficult to tune and keep in tune, the strings hurt the fingers more, and the sound is inferior.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 06:42:43 PM
When DS went to the in-law's house, she showed him the guitar, told him it was for him, and explained her reasoning for buying a used guitar to him. Later, she told him she is taking it to a local repair shop, to see what can be done for it.

I had been in the cold shoulder stage for a while, but I am strongly favoring the cut direct after this.

DH and I never mentioned the guitar to DFIL or MIL, DS had mentioned it in passing, specifically that he had asked us for one. Neither DH or I were ever asked if we were going to buy one.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: weeblewobble on November 13, 2012, 06:46:07 PM
Go ahead with your plans to buy him a nice guitar.  Don't let your MIL ruin your plans.  Most musicians have a "good instrument" and a backup "angry practice" instrument.  So it's not a big deal for your son to have two.  If anything, working with a busted old instrument it might show your son how important it is to take good care of his guitar.

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: sevenday on November 13, 2012, 06:54:51 PM
Yeah, this is cut direct time.  Based on your statement that you did not mention it to the in-laws, what gave her the idea that you would even LET your DS have a guitar?  (This is a parenting decision.)  I wanted a guitar when I was little. My parents didn't get it for me.  I had a fit, but later as I got older I realized they understood me better than I knew myself and I wouldn't have treated it well, and fell out of love with the idea soon enough anyway.  You know your DS better than anyone and know whether he would maintain the instrument and interest in it, et cetera.  It's not a choice of "do we buy him a matchbox car?" It takes commitment. Not to mention the noise level.   So yeah, WAY over the boundaries. 

I say you buy him the good guitar for Christmas as planned.  Let him take the cruddy one for kicking-around like to a friend's house.  That's if it's even repairable.  I wanted to say 'give it back to the MIL' but that would be punishing DS, who doesn't know your secret plans.  Then I would give MIL the cut direct.  There comes a point where someone's involvement in your life is more harmful than it is good.  She's proven herself willing to overstep her boundaries and make decisions for you regarding what goes into your house.  What will she try to give him next against your wishes? 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: TootsNYC on November 13, 2012, 07:10:36 PM
When DS went to the in-law's house, she showed him the guitar, told him it was for him, and explained her reasoning for buying a used guitar to him. Later, she told him she is taking it to a local repair shop, to see what can be done for it.

I had been in the cold shoulder stage for a while, but I am strongly favoring the cut direct after this.

DH and I never mentioned the guitar to DFIL or MIL, DS had mentioned it in passing, specifically that he had asked us for one. Neither DH or I were ever asked if we were going to buy one.

This is one of those things that would set me off. If he'd simply said he wanted to learn, that would be one thing. I couldn't get mad at Grandma. But that he had asked you for one?

I say, go ahead and give the one you've planned. Your son will "get it"--all the work, etc., that went into it.

And he'll probably also end up "getting" the idea of respecting these sorts of boundaries--it'll be good education for him.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: blarg314 on November 13, 2012, 07:11:27 PM
I would reassure your son that you still plan to get him a proper guitar.

If it's playable but battered, you can keep it as a 'party' guitar - something your son can take places that you wouldn't want to take an expensive, high quality instrument (the beach, parties, etc). If it's not playable, throw it out.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 07:14:55 PM
Before we went on vacation back in September, I had begun to eliminate MIL from my life, no phone conversations and our only face to face visits were during family dinners. MIL told outright lies to my SIL about us and our plans while on vacation. She asked DH if we expected her to care for our animals while we were on our trip after telling my SIL that we were demanding she do that! I then realized that reality has nothing to do with what MIL thinks or says and that was enough for me. We had booked a professional weeks before our trip!

Many times, MIL has tried to compete with me, but this is the last one. We had already decided to do a low-key Christmas for everyone but DS, and now I am just sad that no matter what I do, there will not be a guitar surprise this Christmas. DS is old enough to realize MIL is competitive with me.  :(
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Amara on November 13, 2012, 07:21:49 PM
I am just sad that no matter what I do, there will not be a guitar surprise this Christmas.

No, no, this is wrong. There will be a guitar surprise for Christmas. It will be a gorgeous, incredible instrument that you DS is going to realize is way, way above what Grandma gave him. He will be thrilled beyond thrilled. And it will, I am sure, be even more of a surprise than originally because he will never be expecting another one, especially a fine one.

Go for it, OP. Nothing has been ruined between you, your DH and your DS. I will lay a thousand to one odds he is stunned on Christmas morning.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Surianne on November 13, 2012, 07:33:56 PM
I'm not getting why this is a cut direct worthy offense, or really, any offense at all.  She didn't know you were planning to get him a guitar, from the sound of it?  So I don't see how she was intentionally stealing your gift.  It sounds like he mentioned he'd asked for a guitar, so she decided to buy him one.  Why is that so wrong?  Duplicate gifts happen.  If it's not deliberate, I don't see how it's malicious.

Your guitar sounds much better than the one she picked out, but having two is very useful.  I have my $300 guitar for camping trips, and my $800 guitar for home use.  I love them both and they're both quite special to me in different ways.  In fact, after playing the "lesser" guitar for a few months, he will likely appreciate the better one even more! 

(What's an archival quality guitar, by the way?  I'm still a relative newbie to the instrument so I've never heard the term and I'm super curious.)

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: AustenFan on November 13, 2012, 07:39:12 PM
Ladyknight, did she know exactly what you were planning, or did she just know your son wanted a guitar?

If she just knew son wanted a guitar and that you guys are on a budget she probably figured that her buying it may take some of the strain off you guys with Christmas coming up. I can see my parents doing that for me & my kids in a heartbeat, but your mileage with your MIL obviously varies.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: MrTango on November 13, 2012, 07:43:53 PM
DH and I never mentioned the guitar to DFIL or MIL, DS had mentioned it in passing, specifically that he had asked us for one. Neither DH or I were ever asked if we were going to buy one.

Based on this, I wonder if maybe you're over-reacting a bit.  If you and your DH never mentioned to your FIL and MIL that you were planning on buying your DS a guitar, then there wasn't any way for them to know of your plans.

If they couldn't have known about your plans, how could they be stealing your thunder?
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 13, 2012, 07:53:51 PM
I'm not getting why this is a cut direct worthy offense, or really, any offense at all.  She didn't know you were planning to get him a guitar, from the sound of it?  So I don't see how she was intentionally stealing your gift.  It sounds like he mentioned he'd asked for a guitar, so she decided to buy him one.  Why is that so wrong?  Duplicate gifts happen.  If it's not deliberate, I don't see how it's malicious.

Your guitar sounds much better than the one she picked out, but having two is very useful.  I have my $300 guitar for camping trips, and my $800 guitar for home use.  I love them both and they're both quite special to me in different ways.  In fact, after playing the "lesser" guitar for a few months, he will likely appreciate the better one even more! 

(What's an archival quality guitar, by the way?  I'm still a relative newbie to the instrument so I've never heard the term and I'm super curious.)

As my 80's rocker friend put it, "buy a guitar that can be played for a few years, then stay in a closet until DS's kids want to play it and still be good to go". From what I was told, many of the "starter" guitars are mass produced with wood that warps easily and are not pieced together well. This reflects many of the things I have found wrong with the less expensive guitars we have seen. I don't have a set price point, but I know from my musical background that the bottom line is not the most important factor here.

 DS mentioned to MIL a month ago that he had asked us for a guitar. MIL took it upon herself to buy this one, and never mentioned it to DH or I. This is a repeated behavior on her part, as a sort of competition.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: GSNW on November 13, 2012, 08:10:37 PM
I think the important thing to note is that OP's DS told MIL that he asked his parents for a guitar.  This is not the same as saying, "I am hoping for a guitar for Christmas."  This is exactly the kind of line skirted by the manipulative and scheming MIL (and I believe she is exactly that).  I know for a fact that the generous family members I have that contributed to my childhood holiday glee cleared things with my parents first, as I now do with my younger cousins and neices. 

If this had been MIL's first issue it would be easy to resolve with a request that gifts be cleared with the parents.  It is not her first instance of competitive behavior and should be dealt with accordingly.  MIL overstepped by a long shot.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Deetee on November 13, 2012, 08:50:13 PM
I would give MIL a heads up and let her know you already had the guitar picked out. Continue to give yours. Your son can have two.

Maybe hers can be used if he needs to go somewhere and doesn't want to take the real one. Or maybe it is so awful he never uses it.

It doesn't seem like a really big deal to me, as a bonus instrument seems useful.

The big deal is that grandma just completely stole the boy's parents' Christmas thunder. That guitar was going to be special.  It was picked out with love, and his parents obviously looked forward to giving him his first guitar.

Grandma took that right away from them.  That's a pretty big deal, IMO.

Before I reply, I want to note that  it is  obvious from subsequent posts that this is not an isolated incident and there is a lot of back story and that MIL has a history of behaving poorly. Therefore I think the OP should do what is right for her family.

That said, if this happened in my family, it simply wouldn't be an issue. I have a daughter and if the exact same situation happened where a grandparent bought a sad second hand instrument and I had bought a fantastic instrument of fabulousness, the thought that the grandparent was going to steal "my thunder" would simply not occur to me. I would only feel some concern that their gift would be completely overshadowed or sneered at (hopefully not sneered at as I plan to raise my kid better than that. She is only 4 now, so would love the one with most sparkles).

It is kind of embarrassing to give a decidely inferior gift, not thunder stealing at all. To minimize that,  I would likely arrange it so the main gift was given and then the back-up guitar would go with the music books, stand and other assessories so it was compared to those and not to the main present.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: bbgirl on November 13, 2012, 10:22:42 PM
With all of your background it sounds as though there is some major friction in the familial relationships that I'm sure have tons of preceding history.

With that said, I think you are completely overreacting in this situation. He mentioned something in passing, she didn't have any idea that your or your husband were going to get him one, she decides to buy him a beater that she's going to have fixed up for him to learn on. I really don't see the trampling on parental rights watoozy here that's being espoused that would lead to a cut direct.  Grandma did something she thought he'd like..you're mad but at an extreme level and I think your history with her is coloring your views on her intentions. 

My advice...though it's only worth the internet ink spent on it....let it go. Buy him the awesome guitar and don't say anything. Don't turn this into something not worth the drama for the mama.  Your son is richer in the long term being gifted a fantastic instrument and one that he can play around with outside or travelling without worrying he could damage it. The surprise is not gone and could be amped up if you play your cards right. (What? Two guitars?  Wow...) etc...

By the way, the idea of buying a used instrument for someone to learn on is an attitude I come across quite frequently as a music teacher.  Most people don't want to shell out the big bucks until they know the student is going to be interested long term. I myself have three different violins that I've acquired over 26 years of playing with the most recent one being my most expensive one that I saved up to get for months beforehand. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: oz diva on November 13, 2012, 10:28:22 PM
When she heard that your son had asked you for a guitar, she could have called you and offered to help you buy him a nice one. But undermining your efforts by buying him a crappy one and then trying to fix it, that's just crazy behaviour.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: kudeebee on November 13, 2012, 10:33:06 PM
I don't think you are overreacting. She has done this type of thing before.

Ds mentioned to mil that he had asked HIS PARENTS for a guitar.  It wasnt a wishful " i would like".  It was a specific statement.  Mil should never have taken it upon herself to buy a guitar.  She should have asked if you were planning to do it.  If you weren't she could have said she would like to get him one.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Last_Dance on November 14, 2012, 04:06:56 AM
I don't think you're overreacting.

By going out and buying the guitar yourself when she knew your DS had asked you for one, she might have well have said "I know you're not going to that so I, being the nice caring granny I am, will make sure my grandson is not disappointed"
She hsould have definitely checked with you.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: laud_shy_girl on November 14, 2012, 04:19:38 AM
I don't think you are overreacting. She has done this type of thing before.

Ds mentioned to mil that he had asked HIS PARENTS for a guitar.  It wasnt a wishful " i would like".  It was a specific statement.  Mil should never have taken it upon herself to buy a guitar.  She should have asked if you were planning to do it.  If you weren't she could have said she would like to get him one.

Not only this but she made sure he saw it and knew about it well before Xmas. why tell him unless she was trying to beat OP to the 'proverbial' punch.

That said, play the situation like a simple misunderstanding. "Oh mum (DH should be the one doing this.) I wish you had asked if we were going to get Son an instrument. Don't wast your money on getting the Guitar fixed as we have already gotten Son a supper duper Gold plated guitar with sprinkles.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Gyburc on November 14, 2012, 05:27:48 AM
I'm with laudshygirl on this one. I think it's highly telling that MIL rushed out immediately to buy the guitar and told DS about it.

I would be really steaming about this. Ladyknight, you and your DH are the best placed to decide how to handle this, but I would definitely want to put my foot down hard.

I don't think you should jump straight to the cut direct, though - I would advocate your DH telling her that you are both angry and why. If she apologizes and seems sincere, great. If not, then you can escalate.

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: MamaMootz on November 14, 2012, 07:16:33 AM
I have to chime in and respectfully disagree with those posters that said this is no big deal.

If my DD had mentioned to her grandmother that she asked her for a guitar, and then grandma bought her one without checking with me first, I'd be pretty ticked off. The competitiveness doesn't enter in to the situation for me. How did the grandmother know that the parents said it was OK for the kid to have the guitar in the first place? Maybe the parents don't want the kid to have the guitar because it's too loud and they know their child will never follow through on learning to play it.  Or maybe the parents want the kid to earn the guitar with chores, or by a part time job. To me, it's about that - she actually just usurped the parent's decision making by buying the guitar without discussing it first.

Time for DH to have a good long talk with his mom - and actually, I would make her return the guitar/refuse the gift on DH's behalf.

Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Jones on November 14, 2012, 07:37:35 AM
I can't believe she bought him a broken, used guitar, showed it to him while it was broken, told him she was taking it to be fixed and it would be her Christmas gift. I've given secondhand things to people before but I take care of fixing and cleaning them up before the recipient sees it, and I don't show it to them a month out.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Harriet Jones on November 14, 2012, 07:42:29 AM
If one of my kids had told someone that they had asked me for a certain big ticket gift, I'd hope that person would think to ask me before running out and buying that item.  What if I had already bought it or there were certain specifications that needed to be met?
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 14, 2012, 07:58:44 AM
The ball is now in DH's court. I told him that I will be polite and no more when we have to see MIL, but he needs to deal with this. Other than those occasions, I will have no contact with her. This is just the latest in 18 years of PA and competitive behavior on her part, and I simply do not need to deal with it any longer. (There are two people in my family that I am also cutting out, so this is not just singling out MIL for this one occasion. Anyone who brings pain to my life is my past, not my present.)

The guitar bought by MIL and shown to DS yesterday is used and damaged on the exterior, with no strings, so I don't know how the interior is or if it can even be played. She told him she had bought it from a thrift store. As far as I know, it can't be returned.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: WillyNilly on November 14, 2012, 08:06:29 AM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)

And I think the direct cut has to be a family cut... or otherwise it can't be a direct cut, because clearly she needs only supervised conversations with the kid(s) if she thinks she gets to just make holiday plans with the still-minor-in-their-parents-care-kids without even discussing let alone getting the ok from the parents!  I mean did she expect son to ditch his holiday plans with his parents for her, or did she think son got to decide for the whole family where they went, mom & dad not even getting in on the conversation let alone the decision?!?!?
We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: blue2000 on November 14, 2012, 08:19:01 AM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)

And I think the direct cut has to be a family cut... or otherwise it can't be a direct cut, because clearly she needs only supervised conversations with the kid(s) if she thinks she gets to just make holiday plans with the still-minor-in-their-parents-care-kids without even discussing let alone getting the ok from the parents!  I mean did she expect son to ditch his holiday plans with his parents for her, or did she think son got to decide for the whole family where they went, mom & dad not even getting in on the conversation let alone the decision?!?!?
We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

I don't think this is a 'first love'. First serious disappointment maybe, since the guitar is broken and can't be played. Most kids would be crushed if they asked for a big fancy present and got an old junker they can't even use.

She may be trying her best to make hers first but IMO, he should be thrilled to bits to have a really nice working guitar on Christmas morning, rather than the broken one Grandma gave him.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Shoo on November 14, 2012, 08:27:01 AM
I don't think you are overreacting. She has done this type of thing before.

Ds mentioned to mil that he had asked HIS PARENTS for a guitar.  It wasnt a wishful " i would like".  It was a specific statement.  Mil should never have taken it upon herself to buy a guitar.  She should have asked if you were planning to do it.  If you weren't she could have said she would like to get him one.

Exactly.  She should have never just gone ahead and bought it.  A purchase that significant needs to be cleared with his parents first.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Sophia on November 14, 2012, 08:30:32 AM
If the MIL is trying to compete, she is doing a bad job of it. She bought a guitar that might not even work. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: rashea on November 14, 2012, 08:33:08 AM
I don't know. When I started playing violin, I got a half decent one. It plays fine, but it's not a beautiful instrument. It's certainly a step up from what Grandma found, but you get the point. It was fine for learning fingering and bowing and basics.

Then, my DF got me a beautiful violin for Christmas. I was involved in picking it out, so no surprise. But, I love that violin. I play it every chance I get. It is my first love on the violin.

I still have the other one though. I can take it when I travel, or when I want to let a child play. Children love the idea of playing, but I'm not letting them touch my nice one until they can show me they know how to handle it appropriately.

I think Grandma overstepped. But I don't think it would occur to me that getting a guitar would need to be cleared through parents. I can understand the noise issue, but as for them giving it up, well, they give up most presents eventually. And the noise issue would depend on the living situation. So, if the dynamic wasn't already toxic, I would chalk this up to a misstep. With the background, I can understand why the OP isn't likely to do that, but I wanted to give that perspective.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: WillyNilly on November 14, 2012, 08:39:20 AM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)

And I think the direct cut has to be a family cut... or otherwise it can't be a direct cut, because clearly she needs only supervised conversations with the kid(s) if she thinks she gets to just make holiday plans with the still-minor-in-their-parents-care-kids without even discussing let alone getting the ok from the parents!  I mean did she expect son to ditch his holiday plans with his parents for her, or did she think son got to decide for the whole family where they went, mom & dad not even getting in on the conversation let alone the decision?!?!?
We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

I don't think this is a 'first love'. First serious disappointment maybe, since the guitar is broken and can't be played. Most kids would be crushed if they asked for a big fancy present and got an old junker they can't even use.

She may be trying her best to make hers first but IMO, he should be thrilled to bits to have a really nice working guitar on Christmas morning, rather than the broken one Grandma gave him.

But with gifts isn't the cardinal truth "its the thought that counts"?  Grandma's thought was somewhere along the lines of "so... he asked his parents for one for Christmas... I know I'll get him one before that!"  Whether he loves the junker or even likes the junker is not really the big picture, the big picture is she tried to take that first guitar experience as her own.  Her thoughts weren't "oh wow my son & DIL work so hard and guitars are expensive, let me work with them to get grandson something wonderful" her thoughts were "ha!  Let me get him one first!"

It doesn't matter if her plan didn't/doesn't work.  It doesn't matter so much if the son doesn't actually fall in love with her junker.  The issue, what matters is that that's what she was trying to do.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Luci on November 14, 2012, 08:43:06 AM
I would be livid, too, for all the reasons mentioned above and agree with your decisions.

Another thing that really bothers me is that not only is it used and battered, but she got it from a thrift shop, not from a music store where someone had used it as a trade in or left with them for resale and has been examined by someone who knows what he is looking for. I wouldn't be a bit surprised is the thing can't be fixed. It may really sour the boy's enthusiasm for playing in the long run, which is really, really sad. Does she know anything about instruments to begin with?

I know people who have wasted more cash on cheap or used stuff than they could possibly have saved. That makes me sad. It also hurt me when I received used stuff because it made me feel substandard, not worthy. I buy used for myself sometimes, but I like to think I know what I'm doing and why it will be a reasonable purchase.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: SeptGurl on November 14, 2012, 08:45:33 AM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)

And I think the direct cut has to be a family cut... or otherwise it can't be a direct cut, because clearly she needs only supervised conversations with the kid(s) if she thinks she gets to just make holiday plans with the still-minor-in-their-parents-care-kids without even discussing let alone getting the ok from the parents!  I mean did she expect son to ditch his holiday plans with his parents for her, or did she think son got to decide for the whole family where they went, mom & dad not even getting in on the conversation let alone the decision?!?!?
We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

POD to all of this. I'm highly suspicious of the motivations behind MIL's gift of the guitar. The MIL usurped the parents' gift. She knew this was THE gift DS wanted, and she took the opportunity to give it. The parents wanted to present DS with a guitar because it is a special gift. MIL jumped ahead in line to be first. This action on her part was hurtful.

In my mind, the fact that it is a guitar is sort of a red herring, IMO. We could see the same happen any highly desired and anticipated gift, guitar or otherwise. Substitute guitar for drums, a first hunting rifle, or a puppy, and the MIL's behavior can be seen for what it is -- usurping the parents' authority in decision-making.

Back to the guitar: The instrument MIL bought is questionable. She bought it at a thrift store, and it does not have strings. At present, no one knows whether it is playable. It is possible that this guitar could be a find, but it would require strings and repair to know that. On the other hand, the guitar MIL bought could be unplayable period. The cost of repairs may not be justified by the guitar's value. As an aside, a friend of mine found a great 1920s Gibson parlor guitar in a thrift store for next to nothing -- but that was 20 years ago, and the thrift store didn't know what they had.

It sounds as if this is a pattern of behavior on MIL's part and not an isolated incident. The concern about Thanksgiving is just the icing on the cake. If the OP believes a cut direct is justified, then I'm not going to disagree. I hope that the OP and her DH will give their DS the instrument they chose for him regardless of the MIL's actions. If MIL's guitar is unplayable, then perhaps it could be used decoratively in DS's room as wall art or be broken down for parts.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: artk2002 on November 14, 2012, 09:03:05 AM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

Exactly. The point is that since she didn't know what the parents' plan was, it was her duty to find out before proceeding! This is a significant family decision and not one that can be made unilaterally by a grandparent. I would never buy a musical instrument more complicated than an ocarina for my granddaughters or niece and nephews without a conversation with the relevant parents first. (And I'd get the ocarina only if I were really annoyed with the parents!)
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 14, 2012, 09:15:36 AM

Snip

She may be trying her best to make hers first but IMO, he should be thrilled to bits to have a really nice working guitar on Christmas morning, rather than the broken one Grandma gave him.

This is my hope, and I am continuing with my plans for the nice guitar.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Eden on November 14, 2012, 09:35:29 AM
Were there no backstory, I too would think this incident simply ill-advised, not necessarily an egregious offense. Given the history, though, I totally understand the reaction.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Virg on November 14, 2012, 10:27:05 AM
WillyNilly wrote:

"I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed."

I tend to agree with this sentiment.  For something more than a simple gift, clearing with his parents is the most appropriate way to proceed.

"And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)"

This I can't really get behind.  I've been a musician for decades, and I have many many friends and relatives who are also musicians, and saying "one always..." about such a diverse group doesn't follow.  In fact, I find that it's extremely rare that someone loves their first instrument most, barring getting a top-notch instrument to start or perhaps an heirloom.  There's a lot of love for the first instrument someone got themselves or for the above-mentioned heirlooms, but I don't see any not-yet-proficient teenager getting a pair of guitars on Christmas and feeling more love for the used piece from Grandmom over the new high-end guitar from the 'rents just because he saw it first.  I imagine that this was grandmom's intent, but it's just not very likely to fit with reality unless Grandmom is willing to pour an absurd level of cash into refurbishing it.

Virg
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: whatsanenigma on November 14, 2012, 11:10:03 AM
When DS went to the in-law's house, she showed him the guitar, told him it was for him, and explained her reasoning for buying a used guitar to him. Later, she told him she is taking it to a local repair shop, to see what can be done for it.

This part really sticks out to me.

If she has gone out of her way to explain to him why she bought a used guitar, this could be interpreted as an attempt by her to put down or dismiss your reasons for buying him a good quality, new one.  So, when he gets the good guitar for christmas, he will think less of it, because of the explanation from grandma as to why a used one was the "best" option.

Whether or not he will fall for this, I don't know, and I hope he doesn't.  And whether or not it was a deliberate move on her part, I don't know that either, but I am sure you can get a good idea for yourself.   And even if DS doesn't fall for this, the fact that she would make an attempt to undermine your gift (if, in fact, she has made the attempt and didn't give him the explanation for innocent reasons) would greatly influence how I would deal with her in the future.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Elenelle on November 14, 2012, 11:21:05 AM
I can completely relate to this and how angry the OP feels, because I've been there... but with a full size piano instead of a guitar.

My DD decided that she wanted to learn how to play the piano when she was 14. Thanks to various video websites with tutorials, and her uncle's old keyboard, she started teaching herself how to play. She *seemed* serious about it, but... she was 14 and had exams coming up. We didn't want to drop too much money on what could well have turned out to be a passing phase, y'know?

My mother decided that the video websites tutorials and an old keyboard weren't good enough. No. She went out and found a 30 an hour tutor... who, admittedly, was wonderful, but he himself admitted that DD had taught herself enough that he wasn't actually needed - especially as she didn't want to do "grades". My mother heard "musical prodigy" somewhere in the "there's really nothing more that I can teach her!" and, well... she ran with it. She insisted on paying for the lessons (which I tried to dissuade her from, but at the end of the day I figured that my mother's a grown woman, it's her money, let her waste it how she likes!), being the only one to accompany DD to the lessons (which embarrassed my DD because my mother has no social boundaries when it comes to young men whatsoever!). And then?

That Christmas she bought my DD a piano.

The first of which *I* knew about was when I came home one afternoon to discover that she'd let herself into my house, having arranged delivery some weeks prior, to discover it had replaced my desk.

Which my father had broken into pieces and was carting to the local refuse tip.

The piano's still in my house, because it was my DD's gift - and because she loved it. Briefly. For maybe a month. Because she discovered boys as teenage girls are prone to do, had exams, went to college... It hasn't been played since, undoubtedly never will be, and it is a constant sore point. My parents had their key to my house taken away that day, and they will *not* be getting it back. They have no idea what they did wrong and no matter how many times we explain it to them? They simply cannot understand.

So my mother wasted hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on a passing fad simply to be "the better person" in her grandchild's life, I'm without a desk which I loved, my DD feels guilty every time she looks at the piano, and the trust between myself and my parents? Irrevocably destroyed forever.

My advice? Nip this undermining in the bud, OP. Before it's too late.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: StuffedGrapeLeaves on November 14, 2012, 11:38:11 AM
Ellenelle, your parents bought your DD a full-size piano without your knowledge, brought it into the house, destroyed your desk to make it fit, and they don't understand why this was wrong??  Do they have a history of doing this?  That is so egregious, and so is ladyknight's MIL. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Deetee on November 14, 2012, 12:22:24 PM
Um the piano one is out and out hostile.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 14, 2012, 01:06:43 PM
Elenelle, I am completely speechless in response to your story.

My primary concern is that for now, it is a guitar. What happens in just over a year and a half when he is sixteen and can legally drive? Do they just buy him a car?

MIL has broken every personal relationship but a few over this kind of behavior and competition. She thinks that her "generosity" earns her immediate forgiveness for any and all offenses.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Mikayla on November 14, 2012, 01:13:39 PM

Giving your son a damaged instrument apparently expecting he will give up playing the guitar seems more likely to put him off than encourage a love of playing.

I've read to the end and agree with the majority, but this really stuck with me.  There's a fine line between a beach guitar and a subtle attempt at sabotage.  OP, something you said in here implied she may think this is a passing phase.  If true, this is her "I told you so" insurance policy.

Honestly, I would ask DH to thank her for the "thought", but that if she chooses to give DS this guitar, it will be donated or thrown away. 

In a weird way, this reminds me of Grandma rushing out to buy baby's first Christmas outfit.  In some cases, this is a lovely gesture.  In others (with a backstory), it's sending a message.  And when a message comes with a gift, and the message is rejected, I see no problem in rejecting the gift.  This guitar has so many messages attached you need a flow chart to keep track of them!
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: blue2000 on November 14, 2012, 01:15:40 PM
I don't understand the posters who are saying "she didn't know you were going to buy him one."  She knew he'd asked them to buy him one.  So regardless of their decision she knew he'd put it to them to decide, not her, and at the end of the day that's all that matters - mom and dad have been presented with this desire for them to decide how to proceed. 

And to the poster who said its not big deal they have two guitars and they love both - um that's exactly the issue!  OP wanted the chance to give her son his first guitar love.  One always loves their first just a bit most, even if its beater.  And grandma came and stole the guitar love thunder!  And that's no doubt why she showed it to him already, before even Thanksgiving, so his heart would fall in love with the one she got (does he even know there was a plan for a nice one in the works?  Sounds like it was supposed to be a surprise - so no matter what that first love possibility is gone.  And that to me is definitely a direct cut worthy move.)

And I think the direct cut has to be a family cut... or otherwise it can't be a direct cut, because clearly she needs only supervised conversations with the kid(s) if she thinks she gets to just make holiday plans with the still-minor-in-their-parents-care-kids without even discussing let alone getting the ok from the parents!  I mean did she expect son to ditch his holiday plans with his parents for her, or did she think son got to decide for the whole family where they went, mom & dad not even getting in on the conversation let alone the decision?!?!?


I don't think this is a 'first love'. First serious disappointment maybe, since the guitar is broken and can't be played. Most kids would be crushed if they asked for a big fancy present and got an old junker they can't even use.

She may be trying her best to make hers first but IMO, he should be thrilled to bits to have a really nice working guitar on Christmas morning, rather than the broken one Grandma gave him.

But with gifts isn't the cardinal truth "its the thought that counts"?  Grandma's thought was somewhere along the lines of "so... he asked his parents for one for Christmas... I know I'll get him one before that!"  Whether he loves the junker or even likes the junker is not really the big picture, the big picture is she tried to take that first guitar experience as her own.  Her thoughts weren't "oh wow my son & DIL work so hard and guitars are expensive, let me work with them to get grandson something wonderful" her thoughts were "ha!  Let me get him one first!"

It doesn't matter if her plan didn't/doesn't work.  It doesn't matter so much if the son doesn't actually fall in love with her junker.  The issue, what matters is that that's what she was trying to do.

I agree that it is the thought that counts. And you know her best - you know what thoughts she is likely to have over this. Just pointing out that her plans aren't guaranteed to work if she can't cough up a decent instrument.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Elenelle on November 14, 2012, 02:09:32 PM
My primary concern is that for now, it is a guitar. What happens in just over a year and a half when he is sixteen and can legally drive? Do they just buy him a car?

MIL has broken every personal relationship but a few over this kind of behavior and competition. She thinks that her "generosity" earns her immediate forgiveness for any and all offenses.

Exactly. Obviously, you know the situation with your MIL better than anyone here does... but this *really* struck a chord with me.

Essentially, you described my own mother.

You don't say, but is your DS the only grandchild, or perhaps the oldest? If he's not, does she "treat" the others like this? Because, in my own experience, it might be that she's viewing your DS as her "however many times it is, chance to make everything perfect". My DD is my mother's only granddaughter. Her two grandsons she treats as an inconvenience at the best of times (my nephew rarely, if ever, has anything to do with her as he's now working in Australia, my 8 year old DS also rarely has anything to do with her, because I strive to limit contact, but knows that he's "second best" to his sister). As far as my mother's concerned, my DD is her chance to "be a better mum" than she ever was to my brother and myself.

Also... does your MIL have any close friends? Maybe, if she does (mine doesn't; no one will talk to her, actually, which is pretty sad...), your DH could ask *them* to intervene, if that's not overstepping any etiquette guidelines? Sometimes we listen more to people our own age/from our own generation, than we do to those younger than we are, such as children and children-in-law...

I'm more than sure your DS will love the guitar that you and your DH have (?are) buying for him. Especially if he's old enough to work out what his grandmother's like and your past history of competitiveness with her. My DD worked it out almost a year ago, when she was 15. My DS worked it out when he was 3 years old. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes...

They need to learn it.

I really hope this all works out for you.

(Incidentally, my DD becomes old enough to learn how to drive next year... and I'm terrified my parents are going to undermine me again and buy her a car, even though I've told her point blank that her wages from her part time job have to put to one side to pay for it... I pay her college fees and will pay her university tuition if she decides to go, but a car? Nope. Knowing what my parents are like, though, and knowing how many road accidents involve teenagers? It scares the *life* out of me!)
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: turnip on November 14, 2012, 02:21:57 PM
OK - I'm going to back up because this is an etiquette board, and there is an etiquette question here.

Your MIL bought her grandson a gift.   He should thank her graciously, use the gift as it suits him, and that should be enough.   

I know there's a lot of back story that I'm ignoring - but a lot of this seems to me like you descending to her level.   Is this her trying to steal your thunder?  Buy her grandson's affections?   Prove she is a better, more generous person?   Perhaps - but why get into it with her?   She bought your son a present and you are ready to declare WW3 over it.  What would be the harm in letting it go?

Your MIL bought her grandson a gift.   He should thank her graciously, use the gift as it suits him, and that should be enough.   


Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: artk2002 on November 14, 2012, 02:43:32 PM
OK - I'm going to back up because this is an etiquette board, and there is an etiquette question here.

Your MIL bought her grandson a gift.   He should thank her graciously, use the gift as it suits him, and that should be enough.   

I know there's a lot of back story that I'm ignoring - but a lot of this seems to me like you descending to her level.   Is this her trying to steal your thunder?  Buy her grandson's affections?   Prove she is a better, more generous person?   Perhaps - but why get into it with her?   She bought your son a present and you are ready to declare WW3 over it.  What would be the harm in letting it go?

Your MIL bought her grandson a gift.   He should thank her graciously, use the gift as it suits him, and that should be enough.   

As far as the interaction between the DS and MIL, you're absolutely correct. Between the OP and her DH and the MIL, you're not. It is an etiquette question when another person interferes with your parenting decisions. The question is how to deal with that person within the bounds of etiquette. OP has a range of choices between nothing and an all-out cut direct. I'm much more on the cut direct side because of the back story.

The harm in letting it go is the MIL then being told implicitly that this kind of behavior is acceptable (and even wanted), when it isn't. It's giving her license to do this again, and with bigger things. OP has expressed a concern for when her son turns 16 and MIL decides he needs a car. With the back story, that's not an unreasonable fear. The best way to stop this behavior is to stop it as early as possible. Every time MIL succeeds in trampling a boundary, it gets harder and harder to enforce them. It's not just a present, but something much, much more. It's a present with a message -- the message being "I don't have to respect your choices and decisions as a parent." Do you think that OP should just "let it go" when MIL buys DS a car against her wishes?

Setting a boundary with a boundary-trampler is not "descending to her level." It's taking appropriate action.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: mathchick on November 14, 2012, 05:29:41 PM
As far as the interaction between the DS and MIL, you're absolutely correct. Between the OP and her DH and the MIL, you're not. It is an etiquette question when another person interferes with your parenting decisions. The question is how to deal with that person within the bounds of etiquette. OP has a range of choices between nothing and an all-out cut direct. I'm much more on the cut direct side because of the back story.

The harm in letting it go is the MIL then being told implicitly that this kind of behavior is acceptable (and even wanted), when it isn't. It's giving her license to do this again, and with bigger things. OP has expressed a concern for when her son turns 16 and MIL decides he needs a car. With the back story, that's not an unreasonable fear. The best way to stop this behavior is to stop it as early as possible. Every time MIL succeeds in trampling a boundary, it gets harder and harder to enforce them. It's not just a present, but something much, much more. It's a present with a message -- the message being "I don't have to respect your choices and decisions as a parent." Do you think that OP should just "let it go" when MIL buys DS a car against her wishes?

Setting a boundary with a boundary-trampler is not "descending to her level." It's taking appropriate action.

I'm with Art.  When Mathprime was a baby, we had discussed with my in-laws that we didn't want certain kinds of toys.  For one birthday, they bought Mathprime a toy that had all but one of the qualities we didn't want in a toy, and it was something that would have taken up all of the free space in our living room.  When the toy was unwrapped, Mathprime would have taken it out to play with right then except that I said right then and there that that was not going to be opened right now.  The toy disappeared that night, and at this point we open and check anything that my in-laws send to the children before the children get to see it.

They have gotten better about what they choose as gifts, but that only happened because we got fed up and made it crystal clear to them that any inappropriate gifts would not even be seen by the children.

People who want to trample you boundaries won't respect them any more than you do.  If you don't enforce your boundaries, they will ignore them.  If you don't start enforcing them when it's about smaller things, you're going to have an enormous fight on your hands about something at the level of a car, where you say that of course they should have checked with you; you'll have to buy insurance, repair it, register it, etc.. They'll say that they never had to check with you about anything else before, and what do you mean they can't give it to him? They paid $$$$ for it, and they can't return it, you have to take it.  The longer you let someone get away with something, the more difficult it is to quash the behaviour when you decide to.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Zilla on November 14, 2012, 05:52:36 PM
I would give MIL a heads up and let her know you already had the guitar picked out. Continue to give yours. Your son can have two.

Maybe hers can be used if he needs to go somewhere and doesn't want to take the real one. Or maybe it is so awful he never uses it.

It doesn't seem like a really big deal to me, as a bonus instrument seems useful.

This is what I was thinking.  He can play/beat up the used guitar and have a nice one for Christmas. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 14, 2012, 06:00:05 PM
My primary concern is that for now, it is a guitar. What happens in just over a year and a half when he is sixteen and can legally drive? Do they just buy him a car?

MIL has broken every personal relationship but a few over this kind of behavior and competition. She thinks that her "generosity" earns her immediate forgiveness for any and all offenses.

Exactly. Obviously, you know the situation with your MIL better than anyone here does... but this *really* struck a chord with me.

Essentially, you described my own mother.

You don't say, but is your DS the only grandchild, or perhaps the oldest? If he's not, does she "treat" the others like this? Because, in my own experience, it might be that she's viewing your DS as her "however many times it is, chance to make everything perfect". My DD is my mother's only granddaughter. Her two grandsons she treats as an inconvenience at the best of times (my nephew rarely, if ever, has anything to do with her as he's now working in Australia, my 8 year old DS also rarely has anything to do with her, because I strive to limit contact, but knows that he's "second best" to his sister). As far as my mother's concerned, my DD is her chance to "be a better mum" than she ever was to my brother and myself. DS is the only grandchild.

Also... does your MIL have any close friends? Maybe, if she does (mine doesn't; no one will talk to her, actually, which is pretty sad...), your DH could ask *them* to intervene, if that's not overstepping any etiquette guidelines? Sometimes we listen more to people our own age/from our own generation, than we do to those younger than we are, such as children and children-in-law... MIL has zero close friends and is down to one friend total. She alienates people.

I'm more than sure your DS will love the guitar that you and your DH have (?are) buying for him. Especially if he's old enough to work out what his grandmother's like and your past history of competitiveness with her. My DD worked it out almost a year ago, when she was 15. My DS worked it out when he was 3 years old. It's a hard lesson to learn, but sometimes...

They need to learn it.

I really hope this all works out for you.

(Incidentally, my DD becomes old enough to learn how to drive next year... and I'm terrified my parents are going to undermine me again and buy her a car, even though I've told her point blank that her wages from her part time job have to put to one side to pay for it... I pay her college fees and will pay her university tuition if she decides to go, but a car? Nope. Knowing what my parents are like, though, and knowing how many road accidents involve teenagers? It scares the *life* out of me!)

I am reassured that at least the car would involve too much red tape and paperwork. I am sorry you deal with this too.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: miranova on November 14, 2012, 06:18:22 PM


My primary concern is that for now, it is a guitar. What happens in just over a year and a half when he is sixteen and can legally drive? Do they just buy him a car?



EXACTLY.  And this is the same reason why when we caught MIL sneaking candy to our children AFTER we had just gotten done telling them no, we took action.  It's NOT about the candy.  The kids would not have been permanantly harmed having a piece of candy.  We know that.  If she had given it to them innocently before we had the chance to say no, that would be different.  But when she deliberately goes against our wishes to appear to be more "fun" than us to the children, that is NOT going to be tolerated.  She was teaching them that our rules were made to be broken, and that had to be stopped when the kids were little before it snowballed into "oh you don't have to wear your seatbelt when you ride with me" or "I'll get you the dangerous gift that your parents won't give you".  She already is banned from taking them to the beach because she refused to put sunscreen on them even AFTER being told that it was a requirement for taking them to the beach.  They came home totally sunburned and told us that they hadn't put ANY sunscreen on.  Why?  Because the kids don't like it and "when we were growing up we never worried about things like sunscreen so it's no big deal".  Ok, well thousands of people dying of skin cancer might disagree with you and now you don't get to take them to the beach EVER again.  We are too mean, we don't care.  That's the way it goes, you don't respect us as the ACTUAL parents of the children, you get less access to the children.  Plain and simple.

It's NOT just a gift.  It's a way to usurp and ignore the actual parents here and send a message to the son that she doesn't have to play by their rules.  Learning an expensive instrument (or not) is a parenting decision, and no one but the parents have the right to make it.  She didn't even ask!  Heck, maybe my MIL has improved greatly because she has called already this year talking to me about what she is getting for the kids and making sure I'm not already getting the same thing.  Boundaries can work sometimes, if they are enforced!  But you can't let all the little things slide and expect anyone to take you seriously. If you let someone ignore your parenting authority in the little things, they will just keep going until it's something like a car.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Doll Fiend on November 14, 2012, 06:51:10 PM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: figleaf on November 14, 2012, 07:05:21 PM
This sounds to me like the teenage version of MIL purchasing a grandchild's first Halloween costume or Christmas dress without checking with the child's parents. As the kid gets older, the purchases get costlier. My MIL did both of the things I mentioned, and was upset when her "gifts" went unused. Ther were many "but I just" conversations in those years.

Many years later, I think MIL and I have a reasonable relationship. There were about 5 years of her testing boundaries, and DH and I never giving an inch when she started "but I just"-ing. Now MIL would not purchase a big-ticket, large or 'main' gift for our girls without asking. In return, we've let her take the "super-grandma" spotlight a few times. Sometimes I regret that MIL and I had those prickly years, because there will always be some wariness between us, but it is jut the way it worked out.

The difference is, my MIL responded to our 'training'. Your MIL seemingly just took your boundaries as a challenge. Problem is, she was never going to win.

If this is just the last in a long series of oversteps as you describe, I'd take it as a signal than it was time to limit her access to my family. A few posters brought up the issue of a car, what is to prevent her from bankrolling his first apartment without your consent in a few years, or something equally huge?  I am (I hope) exaggerating, but I have heard of it happening. Recently I've been asking myself, " what positive impact does this person have for my family?". If the answer is none or not much, I'd be cutting them out, especially as, in your case, she has shown no willingness to respect you.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: blarg314 on November 15, 2012, 03:32:42 AM

If this were just a one-time thing, in a normally healthy relationship, getting really upset would be an over-reaction. It would be worth a "What was up with that? We've already bought a guitar for a Christmas gift, and this makes things really awkward!" 

I also know cases where the parents are way over the top in how they try to control their kid's environment and their interactions with everyone in it. You've probably met the parents who insist on only organic hand-crafted toys, made of wood and hand-woven natural fibres, or the ones who throw a tantrum when they're over at your house and the older kids are watching TV, and demand you turn if off because they don't let their kid watch any TV.

But this doesn't sound like either case, rather part of a pattern.  I have a friend whose MIL tends to do stuff like this. She'll keep trying to get in first for special stuff, knowing very well that this is something the parents would really like to do. She also has the bad habit of spontaneously doing 'favours' or buying 'gifts' that end up costing them money, like picking up something at the store and presenting a bill for it, or a gift certificate for something they wouldn't normally get, but only for 2/3 of the price. Each event doesn't seem that bad, until you string it all out.

I can see the car happening, too. But she'll buy some clunker off of Craigslist that is not safe to drive and doesn't have proper papers, and needs extensive repairs to be safe on the road.  DS will get really excited at the idea of a car, and be disappointed when the parents say absolutely no way.


Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: SPuck on November 15, 2012, 06:33:28 AM
Just because you receive a gift does not meant you have to be happy about it, and in certain situations you don't have to be cordial either. I'm kind of reminded about that thread where one grandmother wanted to give her granddaughter a box of  a thousand lady bugs. It is a thoughtful gift only up to the point where you realize it wasn't thought through. Yes it might have been exciting, but then what you realize is that you have a box of a thousand lady bugs you have to get rid of or release without upsetting anyone or releasing a wave of lady bugs upon an unsuspecting area.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 15, 2012, 08:19:14 AM
The guitar MIL bought will remain at her house. We will be buying a new, good quality instrument for him to learn on, and hopefully play for years. DS loves music, and was in school band during middle school, and picked up a guitar while at our vacation house. He really enjoyed playing.

This is a perfect example of how my MIL thinks and behaves. She loves to go buy used goods that end up breaking or getting ruined (due to exposure, improper use) in a short time. It is not my money and I have no right to tell her what to do, but I am not going to allow her to continue to usurp gifts that were planned or to buy gifts I don't want DS to have yet. We give DS a lot of freedom and independence because he has been brought up with boundaries and has a level head and moods. In just over three years, DS will be legally an adult, and I want him to be able to live independently.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: O'Dell on November 15, 2012, 09:53:09 AM
Unless you all cut MIL out of your lives completely, she'll keep this up. Your husband can talk to her about her boundary trampling until he's blue in the face and she won't change.

What you can do, however, is talk to your son about what she does. You've taught him good boundaries but he's also going to need to deal with people who don't have good boundaries themselves. He might as well learn the inevitability of that and how to handle it with dear granny. Consider it part of his education.

I think your best option for dealing with her is to act as if there is nothing wrong with her attempts to compete. It can be quite deflating to the competitor if their target refuses to participate. I'm thinking go with a "Bless your heart" attitude with her. Her way of competing with you is pretty pathetic anyway...a busted second-hand guitar that may or may not be repairable? A genuine "Bless your heart" response would be appropriate even if her heart were in the right place.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Virg on November 15, 2012, 10:15:35 AM
Elenelle wrote:

"The piano's still in my house, because it was my DD's gift - and because she loved it. Briefly. For maybe a month. Because she discovered boys as teenage girls are prone to do, had exams, went to college... It hasn't been played since, undoubtedly never will be, and it is a constant sore point."

This story is really stunning, I must say.  That said, if your DD feels guilty about the piano and you don't like it, I'd suggest talking with her about selling it.  If you're hesitant because it's her piano, you can always give her the proceeds and if she really wants to play, you can get a great keyboard for the money you'd get out of selling a piano.

ladyknight1 wrote:

"My primary concern is that for now, it is a guitar. What happens in just over a year and a half when he is sixteen and can legally drive? Do they just buy him a car?"

Be proactive about it and it won't be an issue.  Talk to your DS about how and when he'll get acces to a car (or get a car) and lay it out the way you feel is best.  Let him know that you won't allow anyone to go around that, to the point where you won't accept a car if someone gives it to you (unless that's an allowed part of your plan).

Then advise your MIL of your plan.  If she goes around it and buys him a car, thank her for the gift and then sell or donate it.  She can't force you to step off the plan and if you discuss it with your DS beforehand it'll turn her attempt at backdooring you to your advantage.

Virg
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: CakeEater on November 15, 2012, 09:03:50 PM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.

I disagree. Buying expensive, top quality items says nothing about your love or respect for your child, or their dreams. Grandma's reasoning (buying something cheaper for someone to learn on, until you see if their interest holds) is a perfectly reasonable plan.

Buying broken garbage, as grandma did, obviously isn't. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: mmswm on November 16, 2012, 12:08:38 AM
Oh, boy.  I understand perfectly how you feel, only with me, the issue is with my mother.  There's a reason I live 3000 miles away from my parents.  My adult siblings (I have two siblings that are still minors) also live nearly 1000 miles away from them for the same reasons. I don't have anything else to add, but I did want to post to let you know that I don't think you overreacted at all, and if you do decide to give her the cut direct, I think that would be perfectly reasonable considering the back story.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: snowdragon on November 16, 2012, 12:22:41 AM

The big deal is that grandma just completely stole the boy's parents' Christmas thunder. That guitar was going to be special.  It was picked out with love, and his parents obviously looked forward to giving him his first guitar.

Grandma took that right away from them.  That's a pretty big deal, IMO.

I agree with this.  But let your husband handle this.  Grandma is very self centered and entitled.

I play the guitar.  Just because something is shaped like a guitar and has strings doesn't really mean that it is even playable.  I doubt that your son will necessarily want to play the thing that MIL bought. If it was cheap at a thrift ship, it was there for a reason.  It's quite likely that MIL basically threw her money away.

Cheapo guitars are difficult to tune and keep in tune, the strings hurt the fingers more, and the sound is inferior.

I've found two violins at a local thrift shop that looked quite rough. I had them in mind for decorations but when I told my teacher about them he wanted me to bring them in - they were early 20th century instruments, and with $50 in repairs total, I had a couple of really nice instruments.  Sometimes the reason an instrument is in a thrift shop is because the owner died and their heirs didn't want it around.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Iris on November 16, 2012, 12:28:40 AM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.

I disagree. Buying expensive, top quality items says nothing about your love or respect for your child, or their dreams. Grandma's reasoning (buying something cheaper for someone to learn on, until you see if their interest holds) is a perfectly reasonable plan.

Buying broken garbage, as grandma did, obviously isn't.

This. IME it is extremely common practice for people to buy cheaper instruments for children to learn on and then upgrade when it becomes evident that the child is committed to learning the instrument for an extended period of time.

As for the original question it is difficult for me to comment because this would be so far away from being a big deal in my family that it's not funny. I think this is definitely one of those 'context' situations.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: snowdragon on November 16, 2012, 01:05:55 AM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.

I disagree. Buying expensive, top quality items says nothing about your love or respect for your child, or their dreams. Grandma's reasoning (buying something cheaper for someone to learn on, until you see if their interest holds) is a perfectly reasonable plan.

Buying broken garbage, as grandma did, obviously isn't.

This. IME it is extremely common practice for people to buy cheaper instruments for children to learn on and then upgrade when it becomes evident that the child is committed to learning the instrument for an extended period of time.

As for the original question it is difficult for me to comment because this would be so far away from being a big deal in my family that it's not funny. I think this is definitely one of those 'context' situations.


  I bought guitar awhile ago for my nephew to use and made him a deal, if he could prove to me that he would treat it right and practice it reasonably regularly I would by him a good one for his next birthday. ( his mother was all for it because they can't afford to give their kids music on a regular basis and the school they go to doesn't teach it). It had nothing to do with not respecting the kids dream...actually it was a way of honoring the dream with a cheaper instrument ( $100) while saving for the good electric instrument he was lusting after ( $500 plus an amp). The understand was that when he got his "real" instrument he would return the  cheap one to me so that the next child who expressed an interest could work with it, not everyone can afford to buy a kid a large ticket item at the drop of a Christmas tree - but we think it's important enough for kids to be able to try things out that we think it's worth it to do what we can, even if it's not the absolute best instrument on the market.  just my 2 cents.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Doll Fiend on November 16, 2012, 02:19:25 AM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.

I disagree. Buying expensive, top quality items says nothing about your love or respect for your child, or their dreams. Grandma's reasoning (buying something cheaper for someone to learn on, until you see if their interest holds) is a perfectly reasonable plan.

Buying broken garbage, as grandma did, obviously isn't.

This. IME it is extremely common practice for people to buy cheaper instruments for children to learn on and then upgrade when it becomes evident that the child is committed to learning the instrument for an extended period of time.

As for the original question it is difficult for me to comment because this would be so far away from being a big deal in my family that it's not funny. I think this is definitely one of those 'context' situations.


  I bought guitar awhile ago for my nephew to use and made him a deal, if he could prove to me that he would treat it right and practice it reasonably regularly I would by him a good one for his next birthday. ( his mother was all for it because they can't afford to give their kids music on a regular basis and the school they go to doesn't teach it). It had nothing to do with not respecting the kids dream...actually it was a way of honoring the dream with a cheaper instrument ( $100) while saving for the good electric instrument he was lusting after ( $500 plus an amp). The understand was that when he got his "real" instrument he would return the  cheap one to me so that the next child who expressed an interest could work with it, not everyone can afford to buy a kid a large ticket item at the drop of a Christmas tree - but we think it's important enough for kids to be able to try things out that we think it's worth it to do what we can, even if it's not the absolute best instrument on the market.  just my 2 cents.

And may I point out that it is what Grandma said with her words, not just what she said with her deeds that is what is sad. I understand buying a lesser instrument for a beginner. But actually saying to some one, to their face, that you don't believe in them is just nasty.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Iris on November 16, 2012, 06:48:03 AM
Thank you for the comments. We have already had some friction over the past week since MIL thought it was DS' decision to visit them during the Thanksgiving holiday instead of his parents' decision.

This happened today, and she told DS the reason she bought a used one is she didn't want to waste money if he changes his mind about playing the guitar.  ::) 

Internally, I am screaming, but I am trying to remain calm until DH comes home.

This got me. So sad that Grandma basically said that he is not worth a better guitar and the belief and pride in him that he will take to the instrument. I believe that your better and more worthy guitar will say to him about how much you believe in him and how much pride you have in him. Your love and respect for him and his dreams is easily told just by the quality of the guitar you are getting him.

I disagree. Buying expensive, top quality items says nothing about your love or respect for your child, or their dreams. Grandma's reasoning (buying something cheaper for someone to learn on, until you see if their interest holds) is a perfectly reasonable plan.

Buying broken garbage, as grandma did, obviously isn't.

This. IME it is extremely common practice for people to buy cheaper instruments for children to learn on and then upgrade when it becomes evident that the child is committed to learning the instrument for an extended period of time.

As for the original question it is difficult for me to comment because this would be so far away from being a big deal in my family that it's not funny. I think this is definitely one of those 'context' situations.


  I bought guitar awhile ago for my nephew to use and made him a deal, if he could prove to me that he would treat it right and practice it reasonably regularly I would by him a good one for his next birthday. ( his mother was all for it because they can't afford to give their kids music on a regular basis and the school they go to doesn't teach it). It had nothing to do with not respecting the kids dream...actually it was a way of honoring the dream with a cheaper instrument ( $100) while saving for the good electric instrument he was lusting after ( $500 plus an amp). The understand was that when he got his "real" instrument he would return the  cheap one to me so that the next child who expressed an interest could work with it, not everyone can afford to buy a kid a large ticket item at the drop of a Christmas tree - but we think it's important enough for kids to be able to try things out that we think it's worth it to do what we can, even if it's not the absolute best instrument on the market.  just my 2 cents.

And may I point out that it is what Grandma said with her words, not just what she said with her deeds that is what is sad. I understand buying a lesser instrument for a beginner. But actually saying to some one, to their face, that you don't believe in them is just nasty.

This is off the track of the OP but as a general thing I don't think "I'm buying you a cheaper instrument so that if you decide it's not for you I haven't wasted a whole heap of money" IS saying you don't believe in someone. People of all ages DO try out new interests and then decide it's not for them. If I said to DH "That's great that you have a new interest in photography, but how about we buy NotAsGood Camera for $500 because we can afford that in this month's household budget and you can try it out, and then save up for Awesome Camera that costs $2000 in a year if you still want it?" it means that I don't believe in him or support his interests. It just means that I recognise that a new interest may or may not be a lasting one.

Anyway, this has little to do with the OP which seems to be more about an over competitive MIL than the wisdom of buying instruments of a certain type for a beginner - especially since a broken guitar with no strings doesn't fall under the usual range of 'beginner instruments'.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 16, 2012, 07:30:58 AM
DH talked to MIL and it turns out she spent $$ on the guitar. There is visible damage on the interior and exterior. The music chain store she tried to take it to, wouldn't touch it. She called someone else to take a look at it and it will be at least another $$$ to repair it, which is more than we are spending on the nice guitar.

If money was an issue, then I would understand buying a used instrument. My in-laws are comfortable financially and tend to spend a lot on things they will never use. There are only the two of them, but they buy everything in bulk and the food goes bad or stale before they can use it.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: LeveeWoman on November 16, 2012, 07:50:52 AM
DH talked to MIL and it turns out she spent $$ on the guitar. There is visible damage on the interior and exterior. The music chain store she tried to take it to, wouldn't touch it. She called someone else to take a look at it and it will be at least another $$$ to repair it, which is more than we are spending on the nice guitar.

If money was an issue, then I would understand buying a used instrument. My in-laws are comfortable financially and tend to spend a lot on things they will never use. There are only the two of them, but they buy everything in bulk and the food goes bad or stale before they can use it.

They have problems with planning, don't they?
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: artk2002 on November 16, 2012, 08:43:02 AM
DH talked to MIL and it turns out she spent $$ on the guitar. There is visible damage on the interior and exterior. The music chain store she tried to take it to, wouldn't touch it. She called someone else to take a look at it and it will be at least another $$$ to repair it, which is more than we are spending on the nice guitar.

If money was an issue, then I would understand buying a used instrument. My in-laws are comfortable financially and tend to spend a lot on things they will never use. There are only the two of them, but they buy everything in bulk and the food goes bad or stale before they can use it.

"Penny wise and pound foolish"
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Virg on November 16, 2012, 09:28:32 AM
artk2002, I'm not even sure this would qualify as penny wise, since the instrument as it stands doesn't work.  I think I'd label it foolish through and through.

Virg
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Minmom3 on November 16, 2012, 01:13:48 PM
DH talked to MIL and it turns out she spent $$ on the guitar. There is visible damage on the interior and exterior. The music chain store she tried to take it to, wouldn't touch it. She called someone else to take a look at it and it will be at least another $$$ to repair it, which is more than we are spending on the nice guitar.

If money was an issue, then I would understand buying a used instrument. My in-laws are comfortable financially and tend to spend a lot on things they will never use. There are only the two of them, but they buy everything in bulk and the food goes bad or stale before they can use it.

They have problems with planning, don't they?

They have shopping issues.....  As well as the boundary/control issues.  The thrill of getting 'that perfect thing' becomes far more important than getting a good choice, or the proper amount, or storage - it's the thrill of BUYING it.  It's been addictive to many, many people.  When my FIL retired, they had $18,000 credit debt, because my MIL had a serious shopping addiction.  It took FIL years to pay it off.  She'd buy multiple of something 'great', give some of them away, and then give again when she found the rest of them.  She gave me the same book 3 years running, because that's how many copies of it she bought.  And she had memory issues from a stroke, so she had NO idea what she bought, where she put it, or who she gave it to.   She LOVED being benevolent to all of us, and she LOVED shopping. 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: violinp on November 16, 2012, 03:17:38 PM
artk2002, I'm not even sure this would qualify as penny wise, since the instrument as it stands doesn't work.  I think I'd label it foolish through and through.

Virg

This. So, the grandmother bought something useless for her grandson (or anyone else, really, since the shop she took it to refused to repair it) on the basis that he might give up guitar in a few months. That may be true, but if my grandma had done that to me or Cabbage, our parents would be annoyed at best. At the very least, the grandmother could have gotten a cheap guitar that actually works.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on November 17, 2012, 04:11:45 PM
DFIL called me last night and we talked. I told him that we were planning to buy the guitar, but needed to see if DS would need a left-handed or right-handed guitar first. He explained that MIL had gone out during the week to get the guitar she bought and when he looked at it (he is only home on the weekends), it was made poorly and the pieces inside rattle when you move it. It is going to live at their house, but I talked to him that we don't expect them to give DS gifts, but that we would appreciate them talking to us for anything major first.

So, progress was made.  :) We found the guitar for DS, and just have to get the handed question answered first.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: blarg314 on November 17, 2012, 07:01:38 PM

From a financial perspective, the concept of "cheap instrument" can be a lot more expensive that non musicians expect.

When I was in high school band, the cheap, second hand version of my instrument was $200 to buy, with another $50 for a good cleaning needed.  We rented from the district for the first year (giving me a chance to figure out if this was the instrument I wanted to play), then looked for the second hand version to buy, which was cheaper in the long run.  A low end new instrument would have run at least $1000. 

From a kid perspective, the parents should generally have a good idea if a child is serious about a hobby and is likely to stick with it. The kid who flits from enthusiasm to enthusiasm on rapid basis and has a closet full of barely used sports, art and music gear gets a thrift store or rented guitar until they've demonstrated they want to stick with it. A musical kid who tends to stick with the same enjoyments is a different story, and could well benefit by starting with a decent instrument.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on December 03, 2012, 08:52:37 AM
It turns out the guitar can't be fixed. It likely was never intended to be played, according to the music store repair center. The pieces inside aren't secured properly.

We are taking DS to try left-handed and right-handed guitars tonight, and we will be ordering the one for him.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: girlysprite on December 03, 2012, 09:25:43 AM
It turns out the guitar can't be fixed. It likely was never intended to be played, according to the music store repair center. The pieces inside aren't secured properly.

We are taking DS to try left-handed and right-handed guitars tonight, and we will be ordering the one for him.

We could hope that this will serve as a learning moment for your MIL, but based on your posts I don't think there's much of a chance.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: bopper on December 03, 2012, 01:10:05 PM
I still would think about buying a 14 year old an archival guitar.  I would get a pretty good guitar and see if he continues to play it. Maybe he will.  Maybe he will switch to electric. Maybe he won't.  If he does go on to play on a regular basis, then when he is older you could upgrade him.  Maybe what you buy him now won't be the tone he wants.  Also he would have an extra guitar to bring when he doesn't want to bring the good one.  And if he doesn't continue, then you won't have a large expensive item taking up room.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Lexophile on December 03, 2012, 05:03:49 PM
"Look, Son! Grandma got you a guitar you can smash on the amps! This is a one-time opportunity, so enjoy!"

Turns on digital camera.
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: HermioneGranger on December 07, 2012, 08:08:16 AM
"Look, Son! Grandma got you a guitar you can smash on the amps! This is a one-time opportunity, so enjoy!"

Turns on digital camera.

Snerk.   >:D
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: boxy on December 07, 2012, 08:26:58 AM
I'd do one of two things.

1)  Confront mom before the gift exchange and gently, politely, say something like, "I appreciate the intent of this gift, but it's undermining what we're doing.  It probably would be better for you to give this to someone else.  Thanks for understanding that I'm not ungrateful, I just want to give something specific to Son."

2)  Take the gift gracefully then give it away, smash it on an amp, whatever.  When questioned later as to its whereabouts explain, "well, it wasn't in good shape (didn't meet our needs, etc.) and we found one that suits Son better."
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on December 07, 2012, 03:11:27 PM
We tried them out, and DS needs a left-handed guitar. MIL is horrible at doing any sort of research before buying larger purchases and this is just another example in a long line of bad purchases. She tried to return the guitar to the thrift shop, but they don't take returns.  ::)
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: Sophia on December 07, 2012, 03:53:10 PM
Wait, she bought a guitar that was broken from a thrift store that was so low quality it had probably never meant to be played in the first place.  And she spent real money on it? 
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: LeveeWoman on December 07, 2012, 03:54:25 PM
We tried them out, and DS needs a left-handed guitar. MIL is horrible at doing any sort of research before buying larger purchases and this is just another example in a long line of bad purchases. She tried to return the guitar to the thrift shop, but they don't take returns.  ::)

Am I a bad person for laughing?
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: snappylt on December 07, 2012, 04:05:16 PM
We tried them out, and DS needs a left-handed guitar. MIL is horrible at doing any sort of research before buying larger purchases and this is just another example in a long line of bad purchases. She tried to return the guitar to the thrift shop, but they don't take returns.  ::)

It's pretty clear to me that chances are high that your son is going to enjoy your well-thought-out gift much more than he is going to enjoy MIL's non-working gift.  I know it must have been infuriating to watch her try to one-up you on the gift, but I think you came out "ahead" at least this time.  I'm at a loss as to how to keep this from happening again, but maybe if MIL doesn't plan ahead any better next time she'll have a similar result then, too. Good luck with her!
Title: Re: At a Loss
Post by: ladyknight1 on December 07, 2012, 04:16:08 PM
Wait, she bought a guitar that was broken from a thrift store that was so low quality it had probably never meant to be played in the first place.  And she spent real money on it?

From what MIL has said she spent between $50 - 75 US on it. The Fender acoustic we are buying him is less than $200. I just don't get it!

Why bother buying used, from a thrift store, then have to have it repaired? Not to mention, she knows nothing about guitars and didn't bother to check with her son, who would have steered her another direction. You know, a starter music book, guitar picks, a stand, something.