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Author Topic: Inequitable Gift Giving  (Read 21971 times)

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Autumn Rose

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Inequitable Gift Giving
« on: May 22, 2012, 01:59:13 PM »
Someone in another post made the comment of "tiered gift giving".

This gave me some food for thought...because I am sure I am not the only IL facing this dilemma.

BG -
My DH and I have been married 5 years.   I have a DS with my ex.    Every.Single.Holiday my IL shower their DS and my DS with gifts.    Tons of high end, expensive gifts.   I receive "gifts" that are probably 5% of what the rest of my family receives.

An you understand that I am NOT trying to be a greedy, SS.   
(this is just ONE example of 7 years of gift giving…)

This past Christmas, my DH received the following:
$400 watch
$200 home depot gift card
....thoughtful gift #15

My DS received:
$300 worth of Legos
$100 worth of various toys
....thoughtful gift #10

I received:

Dollar Store thank you notes
An  orange colored  "fringe-thingy"
A T-shirt 2 sizes two large
Bandaids.   Literally…. bandaids.


In the beginning, I was just incredibly grateful that they were so good to my DS their "step-grandchild"

After a couple of years...I thought...well, they just don’t know me that well...and don’t know what to get me.   (we live far away from them).

7 years later....this is still going on.


Now,  please allow me to note:

1)   It is their money…and they can spend it as they please

2)   It is the thought, not the money spent.

3)   I mail thank you notes and make calls of appreciation every time.

4)   My mother is poor and gives DH and I gifts that are probably around $25.   We always love them because she puts effort into getting us things we would enjoy.

5)   ANY gift given should be appreciated….but what if it’s a passive aggressive gift?

I am starting to feel snubbed by my IL’s.

And annoyed that my DH doesn’t “see” any of this.

I haven’t spoken with him about this…because I am finding it hard to articulate my feelings without just seeming greedy.   But its not about the GIFTS!!!!    I am starting to feel disrespected.

What is the proper, etiquette filled way of dealing with this??    :)


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2012, 02:02:49 PM »
...Band-aids? That isn't a gift, that's an insult.  :o

I can be sarcastic. I'd probably send them a huge, overdone thank you letter dwelling on how AMAZING band-aids are as a gift.  ;D


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2012, 02:14:12 PM »
I seriously can't see how you've never had a conversation with your DH about his parent's gifts to you.  Seriously, my DH and I would have been rolling on the floor had I opened up a gift of bandaids.  My comment would have been something like "So do they think your beating me and I need bandages?" 

Unfortunately, I think you've got put in the second class "almost" family category.  Since you say you've been married for 5 years, but have been receiving gifts for 7 years, I'm assuming you've been a "part of the family" prior to being married.  I'm familar with this scenario.  I have a single mom friend (Jade) you began dating the son of one of my mom's friends (Topaz).  During the first Xmas, Topaz was very sure to make a big deal out of Jade's son and get him lots of nice gifts.  She gave Topaz a "token" gift that she would have given to any of her son's girlfriends.  Though Jade never married Topaz's son, they were togethe for several years.  I spoke to Topaz about it once and she said she wanted them to know that they were very accepting of Jade's son "and of course, any mother would rather her child get gifts."  It was very odd thinking but made complete since to her.   

I'd be having a whole lot of fun on Xmas morning with anticipation of what MiL's would come up with this year.  I'd be saving it for the very last present so the whole family could get a giggle out of it.  Especially if more "orange thingies" arrived.


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2012, 02:47:44 PM »
The King is very aware of what I receive, and what the children receive, as gifts. There is no way it would go unnoticed by him if I was being treated the way you are.

First, have a conversation with your husband (away from your son's ears). Make it clear it's not about $$, but when he receives a watch that costs more than a car payment and you get Band Aids and a t-shirt, a message is being sent. A message that you hear loud and clear, and that you don't like. Find out what he thinks/has to say about it. At the very least, he'll know you're hurt.

I don't know that this will change things, but at least it will make hubby aware of the situation. In your shoes, I would stop writing thank yous  >:D  How do you write a thank you note for Band Aids?

How do you, as a family, give gifts to them?


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2012, 03:20:11 PM »
In the beginning, I was just incredibly grateful that they were so good to my DS their "step-grandchild"

This is the only thing that really matters.  They treat their stepgrandchild the same as their son.  Maybe in their family inlaws don't get equal gifts. Maybe they count you and your son as one unit.  I can see why it would bug you, but think there is really no way to address it.


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2012, 03:20:28 PM »
I am not in any way condoning the giving of band-aids as a Christmas gift by any means but I wonder if these ILs think that the gifts to your son already count as a gift to you, OP.  Is that a possibility?

Not to say that is a positive thing.  In fact, it would make the gift-giving scenario even worse in my mind because DH gets a comparable big gift.  Therefore it would beg the question, who of the remaining two are not considered part of the "family"?  You or DS?  It would only make sense if DH ALSO didn't get big gifts.  Then you can consider the gifts to DS as a household gift.  But the fact that DH does get these gifts throws this all off kilter.

The ILs gifting practices are making no sense to me whatsoever... I see why you are perplexed! :o
Paperweights, for instance - has anyone ever established what, when, and why
paper has to be weighed down? ::) ~Don Aslett


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2012, 03:29:15 PM »
You have got to talk to your DH about this!  Make him aware.  Maybe there is something you can get at home depot with "his" card.

Does your DH have a brother?  Is he married?  Is his wife also treated this way?

Your DH can ask his parents to treat you more fairly.  He can't demand because, as you said, it is their money but my guess would be after 7 years they think you are fine with this arrangement.
One option in a tug of war with someone is just to drop the rope.


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2012, 03:34:41 PM »
2)   It is the thought, not the money spent.

Yes...and they're not spending much of either.  :-\

I would feel disrespected also in that situation. I think you need to explain to your husband exactly what you explained here. I think you articulated the problem quite well and don't come across as greedy at all. He needs to understand your feelings about the matter and it's possible that he can explain the logic behind their actions.

All that said, I don't think you should address the matter with the inlaws unless they treat you badly in other ways. I agree with Hmmmmm's strategy: treat the whole thing as an inside joke between you and your husband and try not to read too much into it.

If the inlaws show you disrespect in other ways apart from the lousy gifts, then it's time for a Come To Diety meeting with your husband, as he needs to address it.
Esan ozenki!



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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2012, 04:47:13 PM »
I once gave Bandaids as a gift.  They were really cool designer bandaids that looked like pieces of bacon.  It was an inpulse purchase (duh) for my BFF's husband, who is a major bacon freak.  I stand by my gift.


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2012, 04:57:19 PM »
I once gave Bandaids as a gift.  They were really cool designer bandaids that looked like pieces of bacon.  It was an inpulse purchase (duh) for my BFF's husband, who is a major bacon freak.  I stand by my gift.

Bacon is different.  ;D

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2012, 05:01:48 PM »
It isn't the monetary value so much as the complete lack of thought.  I mean, if they gave you a bath set in what they knew was your favourite scent, you probably wouldn't be nearly as upset.

My Dad is very careful to spend about the same amount of money on the actual gift portion for my brother and my SIL (and me) but then gives my brother and I a significant cheque for ourselves.  He generally gives some thought to the gifts, as well, although sometimes that thought is 'hiring' me as his personal shopper.   ;D
After cleaning out my Dad's house, I have this advice:  If you haven't used it in a year, throw it out!!!!.


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2012, 05:03:41 PM »
If it were me, so long as they treated my son as well as their own son, I'd not say anything.  Like a PP mentioned, they may consider it gifting you as well.  I know I consider it a gift to me when others treat my children extra special.

I'm not saying what they are doing is necessarily "right" but so long as they aren't ignoring your son, I wouldn't rock the boat. 


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2012, 05:09:02 PM »
I agree, it's really weird that they give your son, who is not technically their grandchild, great gifts, but don't give you much at all. I mean, it's great that they give him nice gifts, it would be awful if he, as a child, felt like a second-class citizen at family events. But why they should leave you out, I don't really understand.

All I can think is something I suggested in the other thread, that maybe they consider gifts given to their son as household gifts that he will use to "take care of the family," even if they only have HIS name on them. But that goes out the window if they specify that, say, gift cards are to be used for hobby items for him.

Plus, the gifts they DO get you are so random and cheap. I mean, if they didn't know you well, and didn't much care to, you'd think it would at least be an expensive set of scented products that you're allergic to, or a nice gift card to a store you hate.

And forget questioning the bandaids... I would question why they are giving you thank you cards as a gift! Isn't that something we joke about on eHell for people who don't send thank you cards when they should?  :P

Well, I definitely think you should talk to your husband about it. If possible, could you make a list of all the gifts you remember--like three columns, him, DS, you? If he sees it in stark black and white, maybe it will be more obvious to him. I think you can just outright say, "It's not about the actual gifts, it's what they represent. You get thoughtful gifts tailored for your interests. I get what seem like last-minute random items from the dollar bin. I feel like this is a huge disparity in their respect for and interest in me, and it hurts. Can you explain this or see something I've overlooked?"

Any chance at all that the in-laws do/did something else big for you, that in their minds might be compensating for the lack of gift-giving? Like, say, they changed the date they celebrated family Christmas for the last 50 years to accommodate your schedule, or once bought you a new car when yours died? I'm not saying that would make everything right, but I'm grasping at straws here. Or maybe, as PP suggested, they think that generously welcoming your son into their family is their gift to you?


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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2012, 05:15:06 PM »
I think it is worth discussing with your husband, so he can understand your feelings and views - and I would probably frame the discussion so he understands that you are sharing your feelings and views, not necessarily aiming to or asking him to address the situation with your ILs.

You have noticed the inequity, and the actual items gifted to you are understandably giving you pause - I think some version of your OP, or the actual OP would be great to share with your DH.  He may be able to offer some insight into why your ILs gift this way, or not, but I hope he would be understanding of your perspective and feelings.  If he is, then like a PP noted, you might together share a chuckle over future odd, uneven gifting - or you might decide jointly that there is something behind the gifts which needs to addressed.
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Re: Inequitable Gift Giving
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2012, 05:38:15 PM »
Joining the crowd:  Please discuss this with your husband, the sooner the better.  Show him the lists in your lead post and reconstruct any past ones you can.   This is so wrong.