Author Topic: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?  (Read 9707 times)

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TootsNYC

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #30 on: November 16, 2012, 03:50:15 PM »
Given the way your girls are reacting, I think your husband definitely has a point.

And I know that I would *never* do that to my grandkids' other grandparents. Never.

I wouldn't cut down on the times I see them, but I would sure cut down on the amount of money I spent and the amount of treating I do.

Were I in your shoes, I'd absolutely be talking to my kids right now about whether THEY show favortism, and maybe even whether they mentally/emotionally *feel* it. You can't dictate to someone how they feel, but for my kids, I'd want to say, "Remember when you compare them with one another--and you will--to recognize that your paternal grandparents have bigger demands on their time. And so *you* have a responsibility to do some of the work of creating a relationship with them."

As for showing favortism, "let's see what the other g-parents got me!"--that would be a big deal to me. I'd be working on that with them.

I'd be talking about the widow's mite, a LOT.

I was going to suggest your parents substitute time (or sometimes, the *quality* of that time) for money and material things, but it sounds like they don't have a ton of time compared with your folks, either.

The one thing my far-away-and-not-as-rich parents could do is truly *see* my kids--listen to them, care about the *real* them (my ILs often get stereotypical in their vision of the kids and of their 'grandparent relationship,' instead of appreciating the uniqueness of them and working to create a relationship; when my son goes over, for a long time, he would just watch TV and not interact with DH's folks, which ticked DH off).


CakeEater

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #31 on: November 16, 2012, 05:01:43 PM »
My kids are too young to understand disparity in gifts, but definitely notice a disparity in attention. My parents play with my kids from morning til night when we visit them. They really lavish attention on them. My MIL prefers to make sure the house is spotless and the dishes are washed, and FIL is not a play-er at all. Kids have taken a lot longer to warm to the ILs, and it is a bit uncomfortable at times if both sets of GPs are together, and kids clearly prefer one set over the other. Mine are too young to explain about not showing favouritism.

In my case, I've decided that it really can't be helped. We work hard to help the kids develop more of a relationship with the ILs - we try to create situations where they have time to play, ask them to babysit etc. Any disparity is really up to them after that.

In situations with money, it's a bit harder. I agree with Toots in that I, as grandparent, would try hard not to outshine the 'other side' to the extent of buying 16 presents, to the others' 1. Really, I wouldn't want my kids receiving 16 presents total, let alone from a single gift-giver. And as you say, they're kind of keeping you from being able to buy stuff you want to give your kids, because then there will be too much.

To answer the question, I think a reasonable gift from grandparents is a package the kids can hold in their hands. Toy and book. Toy and dress. Two small toys and book. etc. Board game

lilfox

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #32 on: November 16, 2012, 05:44:34 PM »
16 gifts for a single event, particularly from a single giver, would bother me too (I'm assuming it was 16 toys + books + clothes or similar, not one big gift broken down into 16 parts?).  Along with the things PPs have pointed out, the sheer amount of stuff probably cannot be appreciated by kids 5 and under.  A decent number of those gifts were probably immediately forgotten and might never really get played with.  What might have been a good gift some other time just becomes so much clutter.

We're working on this with our daughter's grandparents (both sides).  Gift-wise they're about equivalent - mostly modest gifts for birthdays and holidays, but always the bonus gifts when visiting, or snuck into packages for DH's or my birthdays.  It adds up to a lot, and then we have to find places for all the stuff.  I've been working hard to hint, suggest, and otherwise indicate that DD has plenty of everything, and to keep gifts small in number and cost.  So far I've been able to stop my mom from buying expensive playhouse type things and a really expensive doll-that-becomes-an-expensive-hobby by talking her out of her suggestions.

I try not to have to say outright "you're spending too much on her" but instead focus on the practical considerations.  No place to put a playhouse.  She still drags her toys around and would not want to care for a delicate doll*.  In the case of a gift deluge, you could point out that the kids just aren't able to appreciate all that they get, and they would have an easier time being happy with a few select items.

* Mom still holds out hope that the gene for playing with dolls skips a generation and DD will actually enjoy that.  So far she has vastly preferred stuffed animals like I did, yay!   :)

Drawberry

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #33 on: November 16, 2012, 05:46:31 PM »
Part of the problem is that the girls strongly prefer my parents, not because they're better people but because my parents tend to shower them with gifts and special trips, plus lots of time.  They'll take them out for fast food and get them whatever they'd like to eat, plus milkshakes, unless I specifically put limits on it.  They want to give them sweets all the time.  My mom wants to buy my oldest an American Girl doll.  My oldest is 5, and her dolls still get dragged around the house.  A previous Christmas, I counted at least 16 presents per kid.  My parents are retired (well, my mom works two days a week), so they've got all the time in the world to take the girls to the park, to the mall, play with them outside, etc.  They live on 1/3 of an acre and have a beautiful, child-friendly backyard with swings, sandbox, play kitchen, bikes, etc.

His parents love our girls just as much, but they've been unemployed for a long time, and while they're both now employed, they work full time and can't take much time off, so they can't spend time taking the girls to the mall or park as easily.  They live in a small house with a tiny yard, so they don't have a ton of toys on hand for the girls to play with.  They have 7 grandchildren and can't afford to spend a lot on each, so it's generally more like one present per child, often a book.

Trust me, the girls notice the difference.  My 4-year-old just had a birthday, and she happily opened the single present each from my husband and myself, her aunt and uncle, and my husband's parents.  Then, she was like, "NOW, let's see what all the presents from Grammy and Grandpap are!"  There were three, so not a *ton* more, but each present was the equivalent of a single present from anybody else and it obviously made a huge impression.  They definitely regard my parents as the givers.


This sounds like an awful big difference then that of the cost of presents and I understand that you want your children to appreciate family members for who they are...not what they can do for them.

Perhaps now would be a good time to start gathering up old but in good condition toys and clothes from your girls and donate them to charity funds. Have your children pick out X amount of toys that they really love and play with often and bring them with you to donate the other toys. Explain to them that they already have a lot of toys and get new ones often but other kids don't get to have as many. Show them that by giving up the toy, they are not giving up the love they felt for it or the memories they had with it.  Teach them not to value the object.

I think it's very easy for young people to develop an unhealthy relationship with gifts. We put so much importance on them that a lack of a gift or one 'lesser' gift is seen as a personality fault in the individual who's lacking in presenting a gift. We come to associate gifts with love. There is nothing wrong with asking Grandma and Grandpa to please scale down on the gifts, but you may have to put your foot down on the matter. If you feel like very lavish gifts are not appropriate or should be kept as something mommy and daddy buy it's up to you to personally consider the amount you find appropriate and request that nothing is spent above that.

 It also seems appropriate to set limits on what the children are allowed to consume. Buying the kids all the fun meals they like whenever they want it is a branch off of a 'gift'. If you feel this is not appropriate, say as much. Tell your parents to please stop indulging them and put your foot down on the matter.

To be honest I have never spent more then $30 on presents for my niece and nephew, they have loved the presents every year. While my brothers ex-wife had her parents buy expensive toys like a miniature ballpit/trampoline contraption the kids have never even used it. The drawing/painting sets I put together for my niece however get much use.Same for the bug 'hunting' set which included a little plastic 'cage' for the bugs and other 'exploring' equipment like binoculars and a canteen. All of these where well under the $50 mark and where loved and played with right away. The ballpit sat unused in the basement for as long as I can remember.

What's important for all of us to learn, young or old, is that we should not put so much value in the object we are given but the memories and times we have from it. Teaching young children to appreciate a gift for it's meaning, but not it's material value will help them to disconnect the quantity or 'quality' (not to say cheaper presents are not quality)of the gift with how much they love the gift giver.  If you children only want to be with your parents because they get things from them that is not cultivating a loving relationship, that's just teaching your children that their grandparents are gift machines.

Zilla

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #34 on: November 16, 2012, 06:16:04 PM »
We had this issue as well when the girls were small.  Their income was about the same however one mil put alot more importance of gifts than the other. 
 
Honestly I didn't try to limit one to match the other.  It's an inequal world and a great way to show your kids that no matter how much or how little, it's the thought that a gift/gifts were picked out and bought.  And that one has more money but doesn't mean there is more love displayed.  Obviously you change the wording to suit yoru children.

Yvaine

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #35 on: November 16, 2012, 06:17:49 PM »
To be honest I have never spent more then $30 on presents for my niece and nephew, they have loved the presents every year. While my brothers ex-wife had her parents buy expensive toys like a miniature ballpit/trampoline contraption the kids have never even used it. The drawing/painting sets I put together for my niece however get much use.Same for the bug 'hunting' set which included a little plastic 'cage' for the bugs and other 'exploring' equipment like binoculars and a canteen. All of these where well under the $50 mark and where loved and played with right away. The ballpit sat unused in the basement for as long as I can remember.

I'll say that when I was a kid, I don't think we ever really noticed whether Grandma Jane had more money to spend on gifts than Aunt Elizabeth, or whether Aunt Elizabeth's gifts were pricier one year and then cheaper the next when she was in less pleasant financial straits. The only gift situation that seemed patently unfair was that one relative gave obviously more expensive and better thought out gifts to boys than to girls. That, we noticed and got upset about (though were polite to relative's face). I think that if any given relative avoids blatant favoritism to one kid over another, kids can enjoy gifts at pretty much any price point.

Brisvegasgal

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #36 on: November 16, 2012, 06:26:15 PM »
I have a similar situation to you. Growing up my Dad's parents gave gift that were worth more than Mum's parents but as a younger child I didn't notice then when I got older I understood why and appreciated the gifts I did get.  Now my kids are in the same boat.  My in laws give cash and my Mum goes crazy.  I just asked my 12 year old if he noticed the difference in monetary value and he said sure but he didn't mind.  Firstly because Nanna (my Mum) goes over the top & 'remember she used to get stuff that wasn't age appropriate' plus as he was getting cash from his Granny & Grandad that was 'awesome'.

I used to argue with my Mum all the time about this issue because I was worried about how the in laws could feel, then I had a chat with MIL and she told me that they didn't mind & that I should let my Mum spend whatever she liked on gifts for our boys. 

Having said this, I mostly agree with Drawberry's response & we have worked very hard to get the boys to appreciate and greatfully receive all gifts.  BTW, both my boys said a similar thing when receiving gifts at age 4.

JenJay

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #37 on: November 16, 2012, 06:38:06 PM »
DH and i have three kids and we don't limit cost at this point, because kids are usually pretty unaware of that, but we do limit the number of gifts to two (except when the gift is several small things like coloring or crafting supplies, etc.). Otherwise they just get overwhelmed in all the stuff and don't appreciate what they received. Our parents have been in similar situations where one set of grandparents were able to get an expensive gift and another was limited to about $10. If my kids noticed I couldn't tell.

bonyk

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #38 on: November 16, 2012, 07:41:36 PM »
I don't think the other grandparents should factor into what your parents give/spend.  They should give/spend whatever you and they are comfortable with. 

And I know that I would *never* do that to my grandkids' other grandparents. Never.

This seems a bit unfair.   There's no evidence that the OP's parents are attempting to show up the other grandparents.  It also seems strange to me that one would make their spending choices based on what another party can afford.

CakeEater

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #39 on: November 16, 2012, 07:55:49 PM »
I actually don't think the amount mattersto kids so much as the appearance. A pile of gifts from one party that dwarfs all the other gifts received is very noticeable, and if I had given the pile, I would try to scale it back next time.

Zilla

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #40 on: November 16, 2012, 08:26:43 PM »
I don't think the other grandparents should factor into what your parents give/spend.  They should give/spend whatever you and they are comfortable with. 

And I know that I would *never* do that to my grandkids' other grandparents. Never.

This seems a bit unfair.   There's no evidence that the OP's parents are attempting to show up the other grandparents.  It also seems strange to me that one would make their spending choices based on what another party can afford.

I agree.  My Mil never tried to up one my Mom or had it even entered her mind that her gift giving had anything remotely to do with my Mom's gift giving. And vice versa.  I myself used it as a great teaching moment with my kids in appreciating and expressing gratitude for any gifts no matter the quantity or quality.

sparksals

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #41 on: November 16, 2012, 08:38:29 PM »
I'm wondering what is driving the OP's dh to ask her parents to limit the gifts.  Is it coming from him because he feels badly for his parents or have his parents expressed discomfort? 

blarg314

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #42 on: November 16, 2012, 09:21:16 PM »

I don't think it's fair to restrict the grandparents to the level that the other set of grandparents can give.  I don't think the kids are going to love one set of grandparents more because they get big gifts, any more than they'll love the parents better if they buy big gifts. Treat each set separately, and figure out what your limits are on gifts as parents in general. 

For me - I would want grandparents to check with me first for certain types of gifts. Anything that requires maintenance cost or work (pets, video game machines, an iphone, a car) should not be given to or promised to kids without first clearing with the parents.  Big singular items (a new bike, a musical instruments) should be checked to, to avoid confusion.  Physically large gifts should probably be cleared, to make sure there's room for it.

If there's a chronic issue with the type of gifts - wildly age inappropriate, unsafe, or simply way more stuff than you can handle, then that should be addressed as it comes up.

I think parents can also express a few general gifting parameters to family - "No toy guns", for example, but this should be done with restraint. If you're pre-emptively announcing that you will only accept hand-crafted gifts made from local hardwoods and hand-woven natural fibres, in flower and butterfly themes, nothing purple, green or orange, then you've gone too far.
 

kareng57

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #43 on: November 16, 2012, 11:59:54 PM »

I don't think it's fair to restrict the grandparents to the level that the other set of grandparents can give.  I don't think the kids are going to love one set of grandparents more because they get big gifts, any more than they'll love the parents better if they buy big gifts. Treat each set separately, and figure out what your limits are on gifts as parents in general. 

For me - I would want grandparents to check with me first for certain types of gifts. Anything that requires maintenance cost or work (pets, video game machines, an iphone, a car) should not be given to or promised to kids without first clearing with the parents.  Big singular items (a new bike, a musical instruments) should be checked to, to avoid confusion.  Physically large gifts should probably be cleared, to make sure there's room for it.

If there's a chronic issue with the type of gifts - wildly age inappropriate, unsafe, or simply way more stuff than you can handle, then that should be addressed as it comes up.

I think parents can also express a few general gifting parameters to family - "No toy guns", for example, but this should be done with restraint. If you're pre-emptively announcing that you will only accept hand-crafted gifts made from local hardwoods and hand-woven natural fibres, in flower and butterfly themes, nothing purple, green or orange, then you've gone too far.


Actually, I'm looking at the OP's post #5 - where it does seem that they look forward to this set of GP's gifts more than anyone else's.  I do think that this is an issue, and I give kudos to OP for trying to nip it in the bud.

Kids are naturally greedy, and it's our job as parents to curtail this.  Young kids of course don't understand $$ values, but they will see that they get 15 presents from one set of grandparents, and maybe 1 or 3 from another set.  No, parents can't demand that the more well-off set give less expensive presents - but I endorse giving something like a bank account where they make regular deposits.  Naturally the parents can't command anything about this, but I would hope that something like "we want our kids to value all gifts from relatives, and not become greedy or make comparisons" would get co-operation.

mbbored

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Re: What do you think is a reasonable gift from grandparents?
« Reply #44 on: November 17, 2012, 01:25:41 AM »
My parents dealt with a similar issue while I was growing up, with my dad's parents being very wealthy while my mom's parents were just trying to get by. I honestly don't remember being more excited by one set of gifts than another. However, my dad's parents agreed to contribute to college funds and offered to anonymously pay for a week of the camp of our choice every summer. To them seeing us having a lot of fun and getting to make our own decision about it was worth more than getting credit for it.

I know your parents wouldn't be interested in contributing to college funds, but would they be interested in help paying for an experience for the kids, whether or not they could be there?

I guess their wishes weren't kept...?

I didn't find out until I was an adult. An overly concerned uncle sat me down and felt the need to tell me that my grandparents spent exactly the same on each grandchild: I may not have gotten fancy toys but I got all those summers at camp. For the record, I never even noticed that I got fewer and cheaper presents than my cousins did, much less asked about it, but we lived far away from the rest of the family.