Etiquette School is in session! > "I'm afraid that won't be possible."

Apparently "no" means "yes" to my MIL

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First off, I would like to state that my MIL has no bad intent in her actions.  It's just that she's very stubborn and set in her ways, and I'm starting to reach my end.

My MIL likes to collect things.  She goes shopping, and once something is on sale, she buys it immediately, whether it's useful or not.  As a result, her house is filled with multiple amounts of every item that you could possibly think of.  Unfortunately, each item usually has one or more defect, or it's plain useless.

Every week, when DH and I visit MIL, she showcases several items and asks us whether we want it or not.  As we're limited in space, we usually do not need that item.  Now, I'm not talking about 1-2 items here.  By the end of the visit, my MIL would have shown about 50-70 items.  Here's a typical conversation between me and MIL.

MIL:  Look at all this stuff I picked up from the dollar store yesterday!  Would you like this cute stocking?
me: (after taking a look at it)  No thanks, I have no use for it.
MIL:  but it's so cute!  Little ashe can definitely play with it.
me: No thank you. (in a firm tone)


MIL: how about this christmas dish?  It's big and very useful.
(the dish itself is made of paper, and looks like it could barely hold anything)
Me: No thank you.
MIL:  why not?
Me: I have no use for it.
MIL:  you never know!
ME: If i ever need it, I'll ask you for it.
MIL: why don't you take it now?
Me: Because I don't need it now. 
MIL: why not?
Me: Because I don't need it now.

Repeat for several more items.

At this point, DH is also frustrated and tells him mom to relax and play with little ashe, since she complains that she barely gets to see her granddaughter.  This peace lasts for about 20 minutes, and my MIL will leave little ashe, and start bringing out more items.

To each item, I've used the following responses, and none of them have stopped her.
"No thank you"
"I have no need for it"
"How nice of you to think of us, but we really don't need it"
"Little ashe is too young to play with it"
"We don't have space for this item"
"When we need this item, we'll ask you for it"

DH has tried to tell her several times that we do not need anything new, but she just won't stop.  The worst thing is that after all that, the moment we're stepping out the door, she presses a large bag into our hands and pushes us out the door.  In the bag contains most of the items that she has showed us and that we had rejected.  We end up bringing the bag back the next time we visit, but I don't understand why she just doesn't get it.  She doesn't make us feel guilty for not taking anything, nor does she get angry.

What do I do now?  I used to take one or two items out of politeness, but it keeps accumulating.  So I've stopped now, but she keeps offering things.

Harriet Jones:
Can you just "forget" to put the bag in the car when you leave?  Otherwise, offer it up on freecycle or just toss it in the garbage -- if it's defective merchandise, you can't donate it.

I doubt you can do anything to change your MIL's behavior, though.

when she shoves the bag into your hands say "MIL, I already told you that we do not want this stuff. Please do not push it on us" and leave it there. Can you have her come to your house instead?

Has she been evaluated for OCD? This strikes me as hording behavior.

I would stop telling her that you won't take it now. Make it really clear that you don't ever want to take the stuff she buys for you. It isn't that you don't have a use for it, it's that you don't want her buying stuff for you.

Sounds just like my horder sister, who has managed to turn my mother's house into a warehouse (she's 45 and still lives at home).  She will buy any useless tat, especially if it's blue.  You should see the absolutely cheap, useless stuff she's bought because it's blue.  My mother showed me boxes from QVC that are being stored on the back hall steps that haven't even been opened.

And my mother wonders why nobody wants to go to her house for Thanksgiving any more?  I live only a few miles from my mother and I don't think I've been to her house for 5 years.


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