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Old 05-25-2019, 12:11 PM
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Thumbs down Grandparents That Spoil

Sorry to complain but I want to know if it's just me, how you've possibly dealt with this or if I'm just being a jerk.

My children are my husband's parents' only grandchildren. They had two sons, one died in his late twenties with no kids so we're it. They live 3 states away, an 11-hour road trip (plus stops), and yet they try to fly to visit us 3 times a year (for the kids' birthdays). Then, they buy a ton of presents. I think spending $100 on one of my kids for a birthday is too much. One Christmas we went to their house and I swear they had 20 presents for each kid. It was too much.

I often feel my MIL is out-doing me and even when I ask her to buy just a couple, she goes over. I try to talk to my husband about it but he says let them spend their money the way they want to. Problem is, I think they have credit card debt and are very unwise with their money. They just moved last year and she mentioned wanting to start a GoFundMe to help with their moving costs. Then she buys my kids a $200 TinkerCrate Subscription for Christmas. Plus other gifts. They are approaching retirement age (I think my FIL is 65? almost 66?) but admit they can't retire. They have no savings. Social Security would be the only retirement dividends they would get. I try to tell my husband that someday they're going to ask him to help them out in their old age and I will feel very bitter about it because they should be preparing for retirement instead of spoiling my kids.

Am I wrong to ask them to limit their presents to my kids? What's a tactful way of asking them to ease up on presents and get it through to them that my kids don't need all this stuff and it makes me feel uncomfortable knowing they are not doing well financially but blowing so much money on my kids?
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Old 05-25-2019, 02:21 PM
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You can't change their ways or debt for them so I think it's ok to give gentle reminders of not needing to go overboard and maybe giving some suggestions on buying gifts (maybe some that are useful not just fun) but they are who they are and they like to show their love through giving gifts.
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Old 05-25-2019, 03:00 PM
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I agree, there's probably not a lot you can do. Maybe suggest other gifts, money or gift cards to stores where you can buy them clothes/school supplies which are needed every year or perhaps, that you can at least put up for savings for your kids?
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Old 05-25-2019, 08:19 PM
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That's hard. And so annoying, but honestly, if they are only there three times a year, it doesn't seem so extravagant to me. I mean, don't get me wrong, it seems REALLY annoying, but since you don't have to deal with it on a daily basis, I would just keep my mouth shut and complain to my friends if I were you.
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Old 05-25-2019, 09:02 PM
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Yikes, that's a tough situation. I hope you can figure out something, and they won't need to move in with you in a few years. But, I agree with the above. . .you can't change them.
Maybe tell them that you and your kids have decided to donate to more needy children and give away most of what they buy them. That might get them to think twice about their extravagant purchases.
Good luck!
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Old 05-25-2019, 09:55 PM
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No advice here. My parents died before I was married, and my ex's parents don't spoil the boys, thankfully. Coincidence? I was just reading this, and then came across an article on fb about how much grandparents are spending on their grandchildren:
https://considerable.com/grandparent...ib5qE9pRXs8qus
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Old 05-26-2019, 01:20 AM
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I am soooooo with you! OMG! I so got you!
My own parents are thousands of miles away from us and we see them mostly once a year for 3 weeks, when we fly down to my home. So I don't mind them spoiling my son (their first grandchild) for a bit. However, from the very beginning, I was very sternly saying that if I don't allow him to have what they plan to gift to him, please respect my decision and find something else.
Ps. My parents do have financial problems too.

Now... my in-laws. We live 10 minutes walking distance away from them. DH is the only son, so go figures... My MIL was crazy about spoiling our son, money & presents for birthday, children's day and any holidays that she can relate to giving him something. But, I talked to DH and asked him to talk to her. It wasn't immediate and she complained about it. But, gradually, she had to cave in and only get gifts that we choose beforehand. As to the money, she still does give and we can't stop that, but we keep it as saving for our son, instead.
Thankfully, my in-laws are pretty safe financially with their own pensions, etc. However, I really don't want my son to be so spoiled that he doesn't cherish the gifts he gets.
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Old 05-26-2019, 01:25 AM
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Yeah, that's tough. I agree with the other ladies. No matter what you say, the behavior will likely not change and it will just cause drama. The way we approach stuff in our household is that we each deal with our respective parents (i.e. I deal with all of the annoying things my mom does and my husband addresses any concerns with his parents). The IL relationship is always kind of delicate.

The only thing you can do is continue to politely suggest some specific reasonable gifts that the kids really want and hope they take the hint (it sounds like you've already done that), especially if your husband isn't willing to have a conversation with them. At this point a few hundred dollars here and there isn't going to material impact their ability to retire if they don't already have substantial savings.

I actually dread Christmas and birthdays because our kids get gifted so much crap from our parents. We don't have space for it and most of it gets used for a nano-second before they lose interest.
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Old 05-26-2019, 05:14 AM
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On the "mom side" of things, I see the frustration... we're trying to raise kids who don't have every toy they've seen on a commercial (or, more likely now, on a youtube toy review video!), who realize that the best part of a birthday or holiday aren't the gifts, etc. And also constantly battling the mess all those gifts make in our homes.

But, if you put your "grandparent shoes" on, and think of it from the perspective of someone who already spent 20 years needing to make the responsible choices we're trying to make and saying "you don't need that"/"we just bought you xyz"/"money doesn't grow on trees", they've been looking forward to this chance. It's one of the grandparent perks

For me, I get much less frustrated with my own mom, because she listens to my requests most of the time, or buys them the things that I would have to buy (new bathing suits every summer, construction paper & glue sticks, etc.) So, if she takes my kids to the candy store and lets them buy $50 worth of candy, it's okay (she just has to put them to bed that night, haha). However, due to underlying issues with my MIL, I get suuuuper frustrated when she attempts to "spoil" my kids. Nothing I have said or asked my husband to say has inspired her to change, so I just grin (okay, maybe more like grit my teeth) and bear it.
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Old 05-26-2019, 06:36 AM
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I so hear you on this! Every Christmas and birthday, My dad and step-mom (it's really mostly her--she is way into giving gifts but that's really the only way she interacts) bring garbage bags stuffed with presents for my son, my niece, my nephew, and the adults too. It was so overwhelming the first few times they did this, but we've learned to just open everything, look happy, and say thank you. For a while, I worried about reciprocating, but now I figure that if this is something she needs to do, fine. I am not a "gifts person," being much more interested in quality time, which my step-mom in particular has ZERO interest in. She sits there, quietly, watching us open our gifts, and she hardly says a word to anyone. It's uncomfortable.

They leave us with mounds of paper and garbage, and loads of gifts, including candy that neither my son nor nephew can eat. They cannot eat food with artificial coloring, and I don't think she believes us on this, because she ALWAYS gives them candy with coloring! My 12-year-old son asked me just last week WHY she keeps doing this. What do I say? That she doesn't care? (She and my dad also think my gluten intolerance is "all in your head." That has taken me a while to get over.)

So, I really have no words of wisdom, except to talk to your kids about it in age-appropriate ways. We explain to our son how this is the way his grandparents show love, and he knows he only gets to keep the gifts we approve of!
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Old 05-26-2019, 09:45 AM
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That is hard. I'm sorry. But I agree with others - you're not likely going to change them. Maybe suggest a membership to a zoo or science center or getaway to a water park as gifts that keep on giving. I love hearing about the grandparents that buy coats or boots or bathing suits every year - that stuff is so expensive and adds up - hope I remember to do that for my grandkids someday!
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Old 05-26-2019, 10:57 AM
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I agree with the others.

Tread lightly because the very worst thing could be an estranged relationship with them because they feel hurt beyond repair and then it damages your husband’s relationship with them. I’ve seen this first hand. If this is the way they spend it’s probably not a new thing... they’ve likely spent this way their whole lives and it’s not something you can change or even turn around to the point that they suddenly have enough to retire.

I think suggesting non-physical gifts is awesome. But, if she is filling a void in her life by shopping this is not going to fulfill those urges. Like a zoo membership for example would be a useful gift for the whole family, and then to satisfy her physical shopping urge, offer to go together to the zoo. Suggest she get them each something at the gift store there.
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Old 05-26-2019, 11:33 AM
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I'm sorry you're going through this!

I can speak from the grandparent's side of things … We have one child - a son - and 3 beautiful grandkiddos. We live about 30 minutes away from each other.

We totally spoil them - I think that's what grandparents are supposed to do. However; we understand they are not "our" kids and have to respect what their parents ask. We have had conversations about spoiling them

For birthdays we give cash that goes into their savings and a few smaller gifts.

For Christmas we give one large gift (based on ideas from their Mama of something all 3 would enjoy having) and then they get smaller gifts - gifts we give include clothing, which they can always use.

This year our son and DIL are going to find somewhere we can go as a family for 2 or 3 days instead of us giving them gifts at Christmas - they'd rather have the memories than the "stuff".

I hope you figure things out soon - maybe find a middle ground somehow … best of luck!
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Old 05-26-2019, 12:41 PM
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Issues with in-laws are so tough. And, as the length of this post shows, I have some experience with the same problem. But IMO it isn't a matter of "spoiling" so much as it's a problem with listening and respecting boundaries. The whole "I'm the grandma. I can do what I want!" mentality is selfish and disrespectful--and that isn't spoiling, that's Grandma Dictatorship lol. I'm not saying grandparents can't have fun with their grands. They should be allowed to do fun things (and buy fun things), but that doesn't mean they should go against the parents. If "having fun and bending the rules sometimes" is spoiling, that's okay and I get that. Like, my dad gave DS an extra cookie for dessert, but I know if I'd said "Nope," then he'd wouldn't have given the cookie *because he respects me as the parent*) But constantly buying more than was asked for and not listening when you ask/tell grandparents not to do something isn't appropriate. That's not spoiling: that's just plain disrespectful.

It took a long time to get my ILs, who have more money than they know what to do with, to understand that we are trying to cut back on "stuff." Like others have mentioned, we have asked for Experiences instead of toys. The zoo is great because it's a place you all can go and they can see their grands enjoy the gift. Perhaps there's something like that you could ask for? We have a "one in, one out" toy rule. It doesn't just apply to MIL's stuff, but her insane amount of stuff is why we started it. MIL finally understood we meant business when she came to visit and the hundred-dollar toy she'd sent DS "just because" was nowhere to be seen. I had never given it to him: it went straight to the donation pile. And then she started trying to sneak toys to the kids. That's when I had the "one in, one out" convo with the kids right in front of her. They decided to keep some of the stuff she'd brought but some of it went straight to the donation pile. She looked shocked, but this isn't about her ego; it's about keeping the chaos in my house under control and about making sure my children don't grow up to be entitled brats.

And having said that, I'd also like to point out that once a gift is given, the giver has no control over what happens to it. Don't feel guilty if you donate/throw out stuff your MIL gives your kids. Donating items can be a good way to teach your kids about helping others, which encourages empathy. I know you're worried about their financial situation, but right now it seems like the urgent issue is curbing their spending on your kids because it is causing you stress and it affects how you are trying to raise your children. And if you're worried about their financial health, that could be a separate conversation you and your DH have with them that is unrelated to the "spoiling" issue.
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Old 05-26-2019, 06:55 PM
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Honestly, I think you have to let them do what they want to do. It's their money and if they want to spend it on the kids I can't see you stopping them. Seems like your stressing yourself out over something not in your control.
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Old 05-26-2019, 11:57 PM
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It sounds like a very sticky situation with varying perspectives. Its hard to see someone spend money on things you really don't think your child needs, particularly when you feel they should be saving that money. On the other hand, as a grandparent it is hard to not spoil those babies!

We have an almost 2 year old granddaughter. I really struggle with this. I want so much to spoil her, but I also know that her mom is a bit on the minimalist side. They are also military and don't need a bunch of stuff to move every few years. So many times I load up a cart (online) with things that I want for Jaymes, then I close the window and walk away. I've decided to start putting that money aside each time and giving them cash for her instead. Jaymes is our first and only grandbaby. However, she's not the first on any of her other grandparent's sides. My stepdaughter has 5 brothers in addition to my children so Jaymes has a ton of aunts and uncles spoiling her as well. I am careful to be mindful of this so that we don't overwhelm them with things. I'd love to buy her every cute thing I see though!!
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:34 AM
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I agree with all the ladies, and it could be a very tough matter. But maybe you could suggest that instead of toys and other materials things, the money that they will use to buy those can just go to their (kids') college fund or something? And if they decide to give the money to the kids, maybe you could talk to them to keep the money for their grandparents' emergency fund?

I can be really tough right? Because kids love stuff even if they're just going to be on it for few weeks and then forget about it.

I might be feeling a little envious of you on that matter since my IL only have two grandkids and one of them is my daughter, but they have a very big way of showing that they favor their grandson more and it shows in a lot of ways. that everyone notice, lol.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:48 AM
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I might be feeling a little envious of you on that matter since my IL only have two grandkids and one of them is my daughter, but they have a very big way of showing that they favor their grandson more and it shows in a lot of ways. that everyone notice, lol.
Aaaw, that stinks. I hope she doesn't get too upset by that.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:24 AM
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"And having said that, I'd also like to point out that once a gift is given, the giver has no control over what happens to it. Don't feel guilty if you donate/throw out stuff your MIL gives your kids" - totally agree :-) Our DIL has told us she has given things away that we've given to the kiddos - it makes me feel good that someone else can enjoy the items.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:10 AM
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I do agree with Sara about it being a boundaries issue at times. Usually people who don’t respect boundaries don’t have them in their own life, and that can make it difficult to explain the WHY’S when it comes to your position on exorbitant spending and gifting to your kids.In my opinion, if it’s a boundary issue it will be very difficult to change her. However, if she is just addicted to shopping or misguided in showing her love in the wrong ways, it might take some gentle redirection... it could be fixable using the “I’m donating this” or one toy in one out policy... or by giving her a list of wants and needs.

I just wanted to add that I feel for you. Some of the hardest relationships in my life are my in-laws. They have issues with our boundaries and it is a constant battle with them, handling their hurt feelings and their complete lack of understanding or respect. We actually have not seen them for almost 2 years as a result of conflicts and it weighs on our hearts heavily.
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Old 05-28-2019, 10:07 AM
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Yikes... I feel your pain. My in-laws are the same with my 4 kiddos, especially in the beginning. They always spent way more than we did at Christmas and birthdays. And they live 15 minutes away... was 3 minutes but thankfully we both have moved! Nothing we said worked. They don't listen when the kids (now college and high school age) tell them what they want. (And they ask too!!!) She never asked me what they needed when they were little too.... There are lots of other issues with my in laws. Now my kids are now seeing the issues we have dealt with and are forming their own opinions. She is constantly guilt tripping them and calling all the time. It's horrible. We also deal with my MIL showing big time favoritism towards just two of my kids and a set of twin cousins. My other two kids have always been left out.

I wish I had advise for you.

My parents live in South Dakota, we are in PA. They see them once every 2-3 years and usually listens to me... not always. lol. But luckily they usually jut do gift cards now. My mother used to work at Walmart and used to give the kids lots of cheap junk....

I have tried asking them for experiences instead of material gifts.... maybe that would work for you?
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Old 05-28-2019, 11:17 AM
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Like Cherry, I'm a little envious, too.

My kids only have my mom and she's not very present. Which is all I've ever wanted or needed from her. It seems because we don't really "need" anything from her we are overlooked.

Both of my husband's parents are gone and didn't have a relationship with us or our children. They were very dysfunctional. My MIL basically died of all the years she was on drugs and alcohol. My FIL lived in the same town and I'd never met him. My husband was raised by his aunt and uncle from about 12 years of age.

My dad hasn't been in my life since I was about eight years old. He's met my children but they couldn't pick him out of a lineup if asked to.

I can understand your feelings though. I just can't offer advice. Haha!
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Old 05-28-2019, 11:26 AM
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Tough for sure! My husband is an only child, therefore our kids are their only grandkids. The funny thing about my inlaws is that my mother in law is very frugal & always buys the kids great gifts- things she knows they will use, doesn't go over the top or excessive at all. My FATHER in law is the crazy spoiler. When my daughter was little (like 4 or so) she used to say "I'll just ask Papa, he never tells me no!" He has gotten better over the years, mostly I think because his wife reigns him in... but it's a tough situation all around. Thankfully, they are more than financially stable, so I don't worry about that aspect of it.

When my daughter was born- we made a rule with ALL family (I had grandparents still alive then- so she had like 12 greats/grandparents alive!) We had to pre-approve all gifts. There were more than a handful of times where we told gift givers their gift was too extravagant or not age appropriate. I don't think feelings were too hurt, but it's such a tough situation to navigate. Even still- often we don't buy the kids much for their birthdays or christmas, as they get enough from everyone else & it's such a waste of money. Usually we will get them something to do- movie gift certs or vacation or something we would do anyways but they tend to appreciate more when it's given as a gift!

My advice is to lead by example- like others have mentioned- Say you are doing experiences rather than gifts, volunteering/donating at charities, Marie Kondo-ing your play room, etc.
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Old 05-28-2019, 02:38 PM
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When my daughter was little (like 4 or so) she used to say "I'll just ask Papa, he never tells me no!"
This made me
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:22 AM
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"And having said that, I'd also like to point out that once a gift is given, the giver has no control over what happens to it. Don't feel guilty if you donate/throw out stuff your MIL gives your kids" - totally agree :-) Our DIL has told us she has given things away that we've given to the kiddos - it makes me feel good that someone else can enjoy the items.
I know a mom who says "no presents" at birthday parties and she really means it... she makes it clear (to guests and to her kids) before the party that if someone brings a present, it will be donated to a local children's organization. And then.....she actually does donate it! I think it's awesome, love the lesson she's teaching her kids, but I don't know if my constitution is strong enough, lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StacyLynn View Post
My parents live in South Dakota, we are in PA. They see them once every 2-3 years and usually listens to me... not always. lol. But luckily they usually jut do gift cards now. My mother used to work at Walmart and used to give the kids lots of cheap junk....
My mom often buys my kids cheap junk, but always tells us to get rid of it as soon as the kids have had their initial fun with it. (Sometimes, it doesn't even make it home with us, they play with it at her house & we leave it there for her to toss). My MIL, on the other hand, buys cheap junk for my kids and then will ask about it every time we see her. "Don't you play with [insert description of cheap junk here] anymore?" Good grief...
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:03 PM
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It's really been interesting reading how everyone feels on this topic!
I do agree, unfortunately, that there isn't much you can control in the situation. I know that's not what you wanted to hear! It's something that really stresses you out (rightfully so, based on their financial circumstances). But, they only person you can control is you. And, I'm sure you don't need the stress in your life.

As some others have said, it can be a blessing that they want to spoil your kids so much. But, maybe you can get them to morph the "things" into experiences with the kids. My kids really only have DH's mom and my mom as grandparents. Neither really has a lot of money to spoil the kids with. I know from listening to my daughter, that what she really wanted was to have grandparents who showed up for things, and spent time with her. Being present was more important to her than anything she was given.

My mom shows love by giving gifts (even though she can't really afford it). And, because we can't control that, we smile & say thank you. Maybe that is your IL's love language?

As a grandparent myself, I would love to spoil my grandbabies with gifts. But, I know that my daughter tries to be more minimalist. If we were in the area, I'd probably get Disney annual passes for all of us, or something like that.
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Old 06-01-2019, 07:06 AM
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As a grandparent, I understand what you are saying but not every person wants to hear how to spend their money. As a person you hate having someone else tell you what you can do or what you can buy.

My suggestion is have your children send Grandma/Grandpa lists of things they want or experiences they would like to have with them. Maybe this will help the grandparents see that it is not just about the gifts but doing things with them.
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Old 06-02-2019, 12:30 AM
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We have a similar situation with my husband's family. They live a 9 hour road trip away and excessively spoil my kids when the see them! I don't think I could ever get them to stop spoiling my kids but we have asked that they give experiences and not stuff, or to put money into their 529 accounts for college.

I have reasoned that "stuff" is just that - stuff and when the girls were young, it just got broken, or they lost interest etc. The "stuff" isn't something that they would remember - but experiences are things that they will tuck away in their memories. Like instead of birthday gifts, my MIL has taken the girls on a weekend trip to Nashville, takes them to water parks, etc. Just an experience they can enjoy together. I've also reasoned that college is EXPENSIVE and the best gift that they can give is to contribute to their future in the form of 529 savings.

So while I really don't think you can curb the spoiling or excessive spending, maybe try helping them put guardrails on it?
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:17 AM
Sherri Tierney's Avatar
Sherri Tierney Sherri Tierney is offline
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Originally Posted by carrie1977 View Post
Like Cherry, I'm a little envious, too.

My kids only have my mom and she's not very present. Which is all I've ever wanted or needed from her. It seems because we don't really "need" anything from her we are overlooked.

Both of my husband's parents are gone and didn't have a relationship with us or our children. They were very dysfunctional. My MIL basically died of all the years she was on drugs and alcohol. My FIL lived in the same town and I'd never met him. My husband was raised by his aunt and uncle from about 12 years of age.

My dad hasn't been in my life since I was about eight years old. He's met my children but they couldn't pick him out of a lineup if asked to.

I can understand your feelings though. I just can't offer advice. Haha!
I'm a little envious as well. My mom lives relatively close to us (10 miles maybe, used to be a mile) and we rarely see her. She doesn't have a word to say to me unless she needs something (usually money). She's never been a big part of my kids' lives. She sees them maybe twice a year. She doesn't EVER remember their birthdays or anything. I don't care about gifts. She doesn't even call. Nothing. She is the only grandparent on my side.

On my husband's side there are two sets of grandparents. Both are wonderful, but we live a thousand miles from each set. They are both in opposite directions too, meaning it takes 2 different trips to visit them both instead of seeing everyone at once. We don't get to take vacations often and they don't either, so we don't see them much. They aren't smothering type grandparents either so while my kids know them they aren't really close to them.

I was raised by my grandma so I know that closeness. She was my grandma, but also my mom and my best friend.
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