Author Topic: The "obligation" of gifting.  (Read 7850 times)

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wolfie

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #15 on: January 29, 2014, 12:31:44 PM »
Why are you informing Jeff of all these events? If he is an adult he should get invitations himself so doesn't need to get the reminder from his parents - and if he isn't getting an invitation himself then he isn't invited and shouldn't be getting reminded of the event by his parents.

Hmmmmm

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2014, 12:36:37 PM »
maybe for next Christmas someone should give him a calendar for the following year with important dates marked in them.  Give it to him and say this is the last you will hear of it; it's up to you what you do.

Also, if he is also referring to occassions like weddings, etc.  Are the invitations going to him?  If not, since he doesn't live at home, it's time to tell people to send them to him directly and let him do what he wants, rsvp, etc. And, since he is so angry about these things, don't mention them to him, if he misses a birthday or a wedding, that's his own doing.

but, I will say, money as a factor, did come to mind.  Perhaps, you don't feel it was since he bought the gifts, but you may not know how bought the gifts (i.e. didn't pay a bill, used credit cards, etc.)

He should be getting his own invitations. I wouldn't know for certain whether others are sending them to him though. I can say that we don't get mail for him at our house, but it's possible some may be sent to his mom's house.

I like the idea of giving him a calendar with birthdays, etc. marked on it.

I'm honestly not sure what to make of the money question. It's not possible for me to answer it. It could be an issue. It might not be an issue.

I dislike this idea because you are still implying that these events should be important to him. And if they really were important, he as an adult shouldn't need to be reminded.

I think a parent calling and saying "Hey, don't forget your brother's bday" implies the parent expects some type of acknowledgement of the event even if it is a call. But that isn't an adult parent's place unless the parent is being told "oh, gosh, thanks so much for the reminder. I'll get a card out tomorrow."

So I don't think the issue is the gifting, it's the being told "these are things I think you should see as important". To me that is what he is rebelling against.


TootsNYC

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #17 on: January 29, 2014, 12:47:09 PM »

As for Christmas, I would point blank ask him the situation closer to the holiday season. For some that could be the beginning of October when people choose to pre buy their gifts.  "Jeff, so that we are clear, would you like to exchange gifts this year or not?".  Don't let him get wishy washy.  All you need is a simple yes or no. It is no big deal and he does not have to make it into one.


And if he calls later to ask for gift ideas, say, "We decided not to give gifts this year, remember? I'm holding you to that. But do call us on Christmas; or should we call you? We'd love to talk to you on the holiday; we miss you."

lkdrymom

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2014, 12:58:28 PM »
So he wants you to tell him about family events then gets upset over needing to send a gift? That doesn't make sense. If he didn't receive an invite to something then he is off the hook on sending a gift.  If he is invited somewhere and is really opposed to gift giving...then don't attend.  I don't understand why the OP telling Jeff that his cousin Martha had a baby translates into Jeff owing her a gift.

And as far as his brother is concerned...shouldn't he already KNOW when his brother's birthday is. He should not be reminded of that fact.

Coley

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2014, 01:35:33 PM »
Just to clarify: The issue surrounds Jeff's feeling obligation toward giving gifts for any occasion. It isn't limited to DS. He doesn't resent having DS and me in his life. In fact, he told DH last night that he wishes there were more opportunities to get together because he loves us and misses us spending as much time with us.

There does appear to be an issue of the three older boys committing some dates to their calendars. I would agree that DH could empower them to take responsibility for entering the dates on their calendars to avoid having to remind them.

Coley

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #20 on: January 29, 2014, 01:38:52 PM »
So Jeff is a grown up. Mid-20s=grown up. I know once I hit my mid-20s everyone started getting married, having babies, and graduating from...something. I feel like it's been at least once a month I'm at a wedding or a baby shower for the past few years (seriously was there some kind of memo that went out?). So yes, I can understand Jeff is getting frustrated with constantly having to buy gifts. And since you guys are family well...he vents to you.

However, like I said, Jeff is grown up. If Jeff doesn't want to give a gift, he doesn't have to. But he has to make that decision. If chooses to give a gift, he doesn't then get to whine about having to give a gift.

I'd say something like "Jeff, I remind you of your little brother's birthday because he is your little brother and I want you two to have a good relationship. He deserves a good relationship with his big brother and you deserve one with your little brother. That relationship doesn't have to have anything to do with gifts, that part is all up to you", and leave it at that. If he wants to stamp his feet about buying a gift repeat "Jeff, this isn't about a gift, that's all up to you".

My bet is that this is underlying issue. Suddenly, all the gift-giving occasions have mushroomed. Nearly everyone he knows is graduating, getting married, or having kids.

TootsNYC

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #21 on: January 29, 2014, 01:44:01 PM »
Then definitely, even as his stepmom, I'd reach out and remind Jeff that it's not about him spending money and going to stores and giving material things.
   And that gifts are often -more- valuable, emotionally, if they're non-substantive. (I'm serious about the idea that I'd rather receive a single Pearson's Salted Nut Roll, slightly smushed from being mailed in a regular envelope, than a $100 gift card!)
   And remind him that even if all he does is send a rambling email about what he's doing, and "by the way, happy birthday, little brother/dad/stepmom/bigbrother!" he will have not only "fulfilled his obligation" but actually helped create that strong connection he wishes.


(and yeah, I'd sympathize with him about the "everybody needs gifts all the time now!" thing--there is a point where it balloons, as you've mentioned. And it stinks.)
I'd be encouraging him to buck society's "dictates" and anybody else's "expectations" about what is "appropriate," and that he should just reach out.

(And I'd be making a point of posting silly or substantive stuff on his Facebook, if he had one.)

Coley

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #22 on: January 29, 2014, 01:47:55 PM »
Then definitely, even as his stepmom, I'd reach out and remind Jeff that it's not about him spending money and going to stores and giving material things.
   And that gifts are often -more- valuable, emotionally, if they're non-substantive. (I'm serious about the idea that I'd rather receive a single Pearson's Salted Nut Roll, slightly smushed from being mailed in a regular envelope, than a $100 gift card!)
   And remind him that even if all he does is send a rambling email about what he's doing, and "by the way, happy birthday, little brother/dad/stepmom/bigbrother!" he will have not only "fulfilled his obligation" but actually helped create that strong connection he wishes.


(and yeah, I'd sympathize with him about the "everybody needs gifts all the time now!" thing--there is a point where it balloons, as you've mentioned. And it stinks.)
I'd be encouraging him to buck society's "dictates" and anybody else's "expectations" about what is "appropriate," and that he should just reach out.

(And I'd be making a point of posting silly or substantive stuff on his Facebook, if he had one.)

I've been thinking about this, too. He can make his acknowledgement of occasions and events his own. It doesn't have to be buying a gift. It could be anything he dreams up.

Yvaine

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #23 on: January 29, 2014, 01:54:02 PM »
Why are you informing Jeff of all these events? If he is an adult he should get invitations himself so doesn't need to get the reminder from his parents - and if he isn't getting an invitation himself then he isn't invited and shouldn't be getting reminded of the event by his parents.

If I'm not misreading, I think these are events being held by the immediate family--it's not that Aunt Whoever is inviting the OP and the OP is passing it along, it's that OP and her husband are the actual hosts and are inviting Jeff themselves.

TootsNYC

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #24 on: January 29, 2014, 01:54:47 PM »
Even as his stepmom (he misses you! sounds like you've got a good relationship; you're one of "his" grownups and therefore one of his "life coaches"), you might call him up and say, "OK, Jeff, so what family events do you want on your calendar--birthdays? anniversaries? whose, and whose not? We've gotten so used to being the source of this for you, we should do a 'data dump' and get those to you. Do you have a place you'd be able to put them so you can find them, or get reminders, etc.?"

Help him strategize how to get what he wants out of those opportunities. Because a brother's birthday is *only* an opportunity to say, "I'm glad you were born. I'm glad I know you. I wish good things for you."

saki

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #25 on: January 29, 2014, 02:26:32 PM »
I think it's a bit weird that your DH was reminding him of his brother's birthday - surely he should know when that is? I'm not sure I agree that your DH should be programming them into their calendars or anything either - it's up to them to remember things that are important to them.

Also, if it's true that he and his brothers never did anything for each other's birthdays, presumably that's because they weren't encouraged to by your DH or their mother?  If that's the case, it seems odd to me to change that up for this brother when it wasn't done before.

Edited to add - on that note, does your DH remind them of one another's birthdays?  Does your DH get your DS to call his brothers on their birthdays?  I realise your DS is quite young but, if they can speak to him on the phone, presumably (with help from you guys) the same is true vice versa.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 02:53:28 PM by saki »

Mikayla

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #26 on: January 29, 2014, 02:46:10 PM »
To me, this is all about bad or mis-communication.  It's not unheard of for people of any age to opt out of gift giving.  But after stating this, they don't go to great lengths to....purchase gifts.  So that was a big disconnect between words and actions.  Jeff should have explained it, but in the absence of that, someone should have asked him at that time. 

But it's 2 ways.  I think your DH was a little off reminding him of birthdays.  Sure, he had a rationale other than "buy a gift", but there's no reason to assume Jeff would know this.  Everyone's different, but if my dad had ever reminded me about my stepsisters' birthdays, or even my real sisters,  at age 25 I would have thought that was bizarre. 

If Jeff wants to keep track of these things, he'll do it.  Either that, or he'll ask if mom and dad keep a master calendar and can he have a copy?   I actually asked my sister for this once, because she's very good at it. 


NyaChan

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #27 on: January 29, 2014, 03:11:47 PM »
I think the most reminder the sons should hve gotten was to try to wish their step brother happy birthday. I think bringing up the gift was a step too far. They are adults, if Jeff wants to get a gift sometimes and not others, that's his choice. If that makes him feel guilty or if seeing you all exchanging gifts anyways, well that's on him.

rose red

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #28 on: January 29, 2014, 03:18:23 PM »
If Jeff wants to keep track of these things, he'll do it.  Either that, or he'll ask if mom and dad keep a master calendar and can he have a copy?   I actually asked my sister for this once, because she's very good at it.

The frustrating thing is that Jeff said he wants to be kept in the loop.  It's one thing for the OP to give him a calendar or phone/email reminders, but it sounds like Jeff doesn't know how to deal with them.  He wants the reminders but then twist it into saying the reminders are about him needing to buy gifts. 

I would tell him straight out "I don't mind giving you a heads up about upcoming events, but I'm just going to tell you once that's all it is, a heads up. It doesn't mean you have to buy gifts if you don't want to."

bah12

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #29 on: January 29, 2014, 03:51:10 PM »
I'm going to go slightly against the grain.  The parts that I do agree with are that he is likely a conflicted/confused 20 something year old and it's coming out, in part, in this gift giving "debate".  I also agree that you and your DH let him know that you are in no way intending to make him feel obligated to give you gifts and ask him to tell you how we wants you to communicated family events to him in the future. 

The part that I'm not totally on board with is DS's birthday.  I sort of see his point.  It doesn't seem like he was being invited to a birthday party (which would be a gift giving event), but just 'reminded' that this date was coming up.  I don't think that birthdays, by themselves, are necessarily gift giving events. In some families, yes...but, if he never gives gifts to his other brothers, then I assume this isn't a family tradition he's accustomed to. 

It's nice to want to include him in on these things, but as an adult he doesn't need to be reminded that it's his little brothers birthday or told to call.  And I do think that even if it's unintended, mentioning that you already have a gift and offering to put his name on it, does communicate that you expect that the older brothers do give gifts to the younger one.  And try to imagine where Jeff is coming from.  His parents aren't together (don't know how young he was when that occurred) and now he has two sets of blended families to contend with.  If his parents didn't spend his childhood making sure that the brothers all acknowledged each other's birthdays and suggested calls, gifts, special recognition, or whatever, then he could feel slighted.  At least I wouldn't blame him if he felt that way.