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Author Topic: The "obligation" of gifting.  (Read 29287 times)

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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #75 on: February 06, 2014, 01:33:13 PM »
I think the cut-and-paste might be useful--this is still "early days," and you don't know if Jeff is going to work this out. He might.

But I think you can also say, if it feels warranted, "Jeff, it's not fair to get mad at us because you're anxious about giving gifts. We're happy whatever, so don't dump on us."

Right now, I'm not sure those things are warranted, either of them. Jeff is only beginning to identify a problem and work through it. Now's the time to say, "Can we coach you through this a little? Can we tell you some things that might take the pressure off? Give you some ideas; reassure you that we love you too, even if you don't buy us presents? Can we give you all the info, and turn this responsibility completely over to you? How can we help you w/ this transition into a more adult frame of reference to the rest of your family?"

I see where you're coming from. Yes, it may be too early to go down the cut-and-paste road. This is frustrating for me because I don't get as many opportunities to talk to Jeff as DH does. Much of what I hear comes through DH. As the stepparent, I want so much to be involved, but at the same time, I can't be pushy about it. It feels like walking a tightrope sometimes.

I don't want to get too deeply into the details, but Jeff is starting out in a very demanding career and doesn't have much free time. It likely will be this way for him at least for several years. It could be permanent. He's living at a quite distance away from his family for the first time, and he's starting to feel that distance both in terms of time limitations and space. As much as he's wanted to move away, he's missing what he has here. He misses being around. He misses the long talks he and DH used to have. These are bumps he's feeling with the transitions he's making in adulthood. Calls are usually pretty fast because his time is so limited. If Jeff has time for a longer talk, his priority will be talk to DH, and I totally understand that.

I'm hopeful that we may be able to visit Jeff over the summer. He wants us to visit, and maybe that will open the door for me to participate more directly in discussing some of these grown-up issues.


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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #76 on: February 06, 2014, 09:16:21 PM »
I think it would also be worthwhile for you to help coach your DH into coaching Jeff, if that's something he'd be open to.

Based on all of your descriptions, it can definitely believe that Jeff is acting out of inarticulate and ill-defined emotion, which is far more complex than "I don't want to feel like I have to give gifts." It sounds like it could very well be a situation of "Now that I no longer live close enough to see people often and don't have time to correspond with them frequently, I feel like the only way I can keep up my connections with people is through spending money and time on gifts, and that's too much for me to feel good about it."

It's hard to move far away from your family and your childhood home for the first time, and I think it can be particularly hard in your 20s, because you're still finding your "adult" feet, so to speak. I did it right out of college, and it took some pretty significant adjustments on my part. I've gone through a lot of angst about how to stay connected with family that was reasonable, sustainable, and still felt good and satisfying for me. To be honest, I'm not sure I've figured that out even now (7 years in), but I am at least more capable of rolling with it.

I think it would be fine to ask Jeff what the magic words are to tell him about family events and milestones without pressuring him on gift-giving, although I doubt he's ever going to be able to come up with them. Still, asking him (as many times as necessary) how to keep him in the family loop without inadvertently causing pressure to give gifts will make him think about it. And in thinking about it, he may realize what is at the root of his anger on this issue and be better able to articulate it.

Because truly, I don't think this is about the gifts. I think this is about the transition, and the gifts are a symptom. His end result may still be not giving gifts particularly often, but his figuring out why the expectation bothers him so much will help him be comfortable with whatever level of gift giving he arrives at.

So I'd say that your DH (or you, if you get the opportunity) should just not let the conversation be about the gifts any more than you have to let it be. Make it about what he wants you to tell him about, or what specifically bothers him about specific gift-giving scenarios. Just keep asking him to be more specific in general. And if you start going in circles or determine at any point that you can't help him any further, tell him that you aren't able to help him on this topic and so don't want to discuss it anymore (and then don't discuss it).


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Re: The "obligation" of gifting.
« Reply #77 on: February 07, 2014, 01:27:10 PM »
Why don't you tell him that he can get by with sending a card on those events?  Tell him you don't have to send a gift, but it would be nice for you to send a small card acknowledging the event (whatever it is).