June 26, 2019, 10:11:38 pm


"Welcome to WiseWomenUnite.com -- When adult children marry and leave home, life can sometimes get more complex instead of simpler.  Being a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law can be tough.  How do we extend love and support to our mothers-in-law, adult children, daughters-in-law, sons-in-law, and grandchildren without interfering?  What do we do when there are communication problems?  How can we ask for help when we need it without being a burden?  And how do our family members feel about these issues?  We invite you to join our free forum, read some posts... and when you're ready...share your challenges and wisdom."

A question about gifts.

Started by Scoop, February 16, 2012, 07:24:56 am

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


I didn't want to hijack another post.  But Pen suggested that the OP stop accepting gifts from MIL.

You all know that my IL's skipped my birthday last year.  It was not a matter of 'no more gifts for adults', DH, SIL and BIL all got gifts.  In fact, DH got several hundred dollars worth of gifts. Historically, the IL's give me something for my birthday (except for 2005 - they 'skipped' that one too).

I was thinking that if the IL's try and give me a gift this year, I should refuse it.  But that seems SO RUDE to me.  How exactly can you 'politely' refuse a gift?  And do you guys think I should do it?  And should I have said something before Christmas and then NOT accepted Christmas gifts either?  I'm thinking that if MIL offers me ANYTHING this year, I'm going to say 'no thanks' and "you really shouldn't bother buying me anything else from now on".

Thanks for your opinions!


PS - I think one of the biggest problems between my MIL and I is that I have a LONG memory.  So yeah, no gift in 2005, or that time in 2003 when she ragged on us for where we had placed a gift she gave us, or ...... etc.


We have our no gifts rule firmly in place but it hasn't stopped MIL.  (for those who don't remember, big strings attached to gifts etc)

I used to get angry every time she broke the rule but now I'm realizing more it's my perception of it.  I *know* she's going to break the rule, I *know* that the gifts are going to be p/a in some way or inappropriate.  If anything, talking to her upped the ante because she knew it was one of our hot buttons.

Now she gets no reaction whatsoever from us, not a thank you, not asking why or reminding her of the rule.  There is no reaction at all.

So I guess I wonder if your MIL would react similar?  Do you think she would be able to handle "no, thanks" without escalating the situation?
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


I wrote another post that vanished so sorry if 2 appear.


what are you going for?
If you want to have it out with them, I would do it now, before the holiday/birthday.
If you just want some resolution, maybe you could decide that these people don't give you gifts and be surprised if they do.

My parents never gifted the spouses of their kids.  They would write a check out to me and I would thank them as if it was from us.  DH thanked them from time to time.

I don't have a lot of attachments to gift giving/receiving but I know it's important to some people.  If you don't expect them, you won't be disappointed.


My take: I think gifting is symbolic. It can reflect love, obligation, intimidation, rejection...the list is endless. To complicate that further...the intention (conscious or unconscious) of the giver may not be the perception of the recipient. Because of all of that, I doubt that we can come up with what will work. It can even change from occasion to occasion...because all of us are complex and multifaceted. I doubt that we can go very far beyond what works for us. I also agree that throwing down the gauntlet about gifting won't clarify or resolve anything...it's more likely to inflame. For me, I just do my best to be honest with myself and basically courteous. "Thanks." Long ago I stopped thinking I had to explain what I did with a gift...as in wear it or use it. I just tell others I don't go there and when I give them something, it is no longer any of my business...I have let go of it. If they stop gifting me because of their expectations...I feel that's about them, not me. Rereading what I have just written sounds cold. Maybe I am, but life has other issues, for me at least, that need my full attention and I have chosen not to give others that much power. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Quote from: pam1 on February 16, 2012, 07:34:35 am
Now she gets no reaction whatsoever from us, not a thank you, not asking why or reminding her of the rule.  There is no reaction at all.

Pam, this is how I handled a P/A gift from my X-SIL this past Christmas.  I never acknowledged it.  I'm sure she thinks I'm the rudest person alive, but it felt like the least of several potential evils, and the least likely to escalate into ugliness.

This too shall pass.  All is well.

lancaster lady

hi Scoop ,

Do you think they deliberately missed your birthday or perhaps just forgot ?
You can get forgetful in advancing years .
Or if they did it deliberately , why ?
I can't imagine giving to my DS and not to his wife , that is for me a  deliberate snub , and would have
dire consequences .
If my DIL said ''no more presents for me , thankyou ''. I would be very hurt , but then I've never
' forgotten' her birthday . Mind you my DS does tend to remind me ...lol.
What does your DH think?


Lancaster Lady - they texted my DH to wish me a Happy Birthday (we were in Disney at the time). 

And I had just finished clearing up the 'confusion' around my birth DATE and how old I am.  Yes, MIL argued with me over how old I am, because *I* couldn't possibly be turning 40!**  They used to know my correct birth date but for the past couple of years, they've been getting it wrong (who knows why?).  The worst part, it's all 7's, 71/7/17 - does it GET easier than that?  Nope, they were stuck on the 19th for a couple of years there.

** this one I can TOTALLY understand.  I'm sure that in her head MIL still thinks that SHE is 30, so how can her son and DIL be older than that?  We're just *kids*!  My Dad used to look at pictures of himself and the GK's and say "WHO is that *old* man holding my Grandson?"

The reason there weren't consequences is that often, they will give me a birthday gift the next time we see them.  Well, we saw them for (Canadian) Thanksgiving and there was nothing for me.  And when I brought it up to my DH, he said "Sure they got you something." but couldn't specify what it might be.  And then he stuck his head in the sand.

I get along quite well with SIL and I asked her if her and her DH get gifts from MIL and she said yes.  And SIL is (or was) the black sheep of the family!  That shows you that I am less than dirt to MIL and if she doesn't HAVE to give me something (because there's no audience like at Christmas) then she won't.

The thing is, I've been trying to be a better DIL.  I accept responsibility for 50% of how our relationship has turned out, so I've been 'working' on that 50%.  It just feels to me like MIL is actively trying to make things worse between us.

I think that I may have to go back to being 'mean' to MIL, because it worked.  It made her sit up and pay attention and she seemed to act nicer then.



Do you really want to be that person who gets nasty because she doesn't get gifts?  If you are trying to match your MIL one for one, you'll likely end up being your MIL one day!  If someone is driving you crazy, I think it's healthier to distance yourself, not get pulled into the vortex!

On another thread, someone was being told not to take gifts from the crazy MIL for the kids since they are toxic.  You might consider applying that to your situation.   I mean, moving off the gift exchange idea.  Let DH get his gifts and buy stuff for her - you can get out of that loop. 

What do you think?


Quote from: elsieshaye on February 16, 2012, 09:42:07 am
Quote from: pam1 on February 16, 2012, 07:34:35 am
Now she gets no reaction whatsoever from us, not a thank you, not asking why or reminding her of the rule.  There is no reaction at all.

Pam, this is how I handled a P/A gift from my X-SIL this past Christmas.  I never acknowledged it.  I'm sure she thinks I'm the rudest person alive, but it felt like the least of several potential evils, and the least likely to escalate into ugliness.


Elsie, I know they think I'm a rude piggie.  Sometimes I even still care but it's the only way I've found that doesn't escalate the situation.
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


D - No one on this Forum is ever told what to do. If it appears that way, please disregard. Often when we reply it is about a situation we have never had to face. Always, take what you want and leave the rest. Thanks.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


I do think it's about the person you want to be, not the person MIL is.  I buy gifts for people because I want to, and I buy for people when I don't want to.  I don't expect anyone to buy for me...at all.  If my own Mom doesn't buy me a gift, I'm ok with that.  If she buys me something, I'm ok with that.  Is it rude for someone to buy for everyone surrounding you and not you?  IMO, yes.  Is it a requirement that she buy for you?  IMO, no.   Honestly, I bought for my DIL when we had a relationship because I thought it was the right thing to do.  I bought for DS, so I thought it was right to buy for her, so I made a genuine effort to buy something I thought she would like.  Did I want to?  Nope.  That's just who I am.  I do things all the time that I don't want to, because it's the right thing to do.  That's the person I want to be.

I wouldn't refuse a gift if she gave it and just say "Thanks.  You don't have to hug her, make a big ado about it or anything.  A simple thank you is polite. 

You said you thought you might need to go back to being mean to MIL.  Did you like having to be mean to her?  Did it make you feel good to be mean to her?  How did it make you feel?  Not how did it make her feel or act.....
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell


Pooh - how did it make me feel?  It made me feel powerful.  Whereas now, I feel weak.  Now, I feel like she's "winning".  That she gets to do whatever she wants and hand me any digs, and we still go visit her and she never gets called on the carpet.

But I understand, I've even given the same advice to be nice because YOU're NICE, not because anyone else deserves it.

Ugh - I hate the taste of CROW!

DH and I always say "Let's play it by ear" and it always works for us, so I'll work with that and let it be.  I've got a long time until my birthday and even then, I'll play it by ear.

I was TRYING to keep this drama out of my life.  I didn't come to this site for 2 weeks or so at the beginning of the year.  I just can't quit you guys!


S - That's wonderful news (about WWU!)  :D
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


If a woman were to accept expensive jewelry from a nasty, awful man for whom she had no affection, what would you think? Might you suggest that if she had no intention of having a relationship with him the honorable thing would be to refuse it? Otherwise it keeps him on the string, it validates his nasty behavior, and it looks as if she's using him to get stuff.

IMO, a DIL's accepting gifts from a MIL she doesn't like is sending the same message (even if the gifts aren't expensive jewelry) plus she's modeling to her kids the concept that it's OK to use people you dislike.

IDK, we all come at these issues from our own perspective and situations. I found my DIL a bit hypocritical when she accepted our gifts after having told DS she hated us. But that's just my POV.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb


You are all so much bigger than I am.

I would accept whatever the gift is, in whatever spirit it was given and write a thank you note. (Dear MIL, Thank you for the unusual scented exotic bath salts from walmart and handmade dryer lint fire starters. I will cherish them always. Love DDIL)

Then I would look at the gift, (not the giver, or the giver's intent), and decide if I wanted the thing or not. If not, I would put it on craigslist and sell it and spend the money on myself. I am ruthless like that. Once it's mine, I can do whatever I want with it. Keep it, Give it away, Sell it, Put it down the garbage disposer,...too much drama for me.

Make lemonade out of lemons.

ps. I really did receive fire starters made from dryer lint from my MIL long ago.