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Grandparents trying to buy grandkids' affection

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by cowboy2001, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. cowboy2001

    cowboy2001 Member

    I'm curious to see if anyone else on the board deals with this issue. My mother pretty much showers my 4-year-old daughter with gifts every time she sees her. Whenever we visit, the first thing she says to my daughter is, "Guess what I bought you." Always trying to upstage my wife and I, especially at Christmas and her birthday, with extravagant presents (my wife and I have no desire to get into a bidding war with my mother, plus we're trying to teach our daughter that money isn't everything).

    I've politely mentioned this to my mother a couple of times, and each time her defense mechanism has been to place the blame on me; pretty much saying that a good son wouldn't place limits on how much she can spend on her granddaughter. Look, I get it. Grandparents want to spoil their grandkids. I just think they should also help play a part in making sure their grandkids don't turn into greedy entitled a-holes. My wife and I are certainly doing what we can to prevent that.

    Anyone have a similar story/advice on how to deal?
  2. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    We had the same issue. The solution that worked for us was "Have younger siblings have children of their own, shifting the gift focus in that direction."
    doctorquant likes this.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Hey cowboy,

    Maybe tap into grandma's largesse in a way that works better for everyone. Tell grandma that you want to teach your daughter that experiences and spending time with family mean more than things.

    So encourage her to go in with you on a trip to the beach or Disney or the zoo, the park , whatever.

    Maybe you can push it far enough so that grandma doesn't even tag along.
    bigpern23 likes this.
  4. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Is there something else the grandparents could do rather than buying gifts?
    Clothes? Music, dance or singing lessons?
  5. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    That's a great idea. Then they can take pride in seeing the concerts, shows, recitals, whatever.
  6. The Big Ragu

    The Big Ragu Moderator Staff Member

    Just a few thoughts off the top of my head:

    1) Nothing wrong with grandma being special to a grandkid. Still, it is probably not cool of your mom to not honor your request -- whether you are being ureasonable or not, I always think people should respect parents' wishes. I still wouldn't go to war over it. Instead, maybe let your daughter know that grandma is very generous (let grandma be special to your daughter; it's for your daughter, not your mom), and that it's nice when you get great gifts, but not something she can expect. Your daughter will figure it out if you are otherwise grounding her.

    2) Maybe approach your mom with this instead: Smaller gifts and maybe instead put the "extra" into a college fund when she wants? My dad did custodial funds for his grandkids that grew nicely over time. I don't have kids, but my siblings do, and even though my siblings didn't need my dad's help to pay for their kids' college (something they wanted to do), I just think it is neat that my nephews and niece know that my dad (who is gone now) paid for some of their education.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Let them spoil the bejesus out of their grandkids. Tell them it's grandma and grandpa rules. You don't have to change your attitude at all, they will learn they get a little extra from those old people but they still have the discipline of being in your house and following their rules. And they'll love grandma and grandpa more for it.

    Soon enough the grandparents won't be around. Regulating their behavior now leads to unhappy you, unhappy them, and a lot of times as a result unhappy kids.
  8. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    Grandparent/grandkid relationships are interesting to me..
    Three of my grandparents died before I was born, and the last died well before I could be cognizant of him or develop any memories.
    I have a sister who has multiple children raised multiple children in the same town in which we were raised and in which my parent still lived. Her children always had a very close relationship with our parents/their grandparents. Although my parents were not the spoiling type, they did buy gifts for birthdays and Xmas, and they took one grandkid each year on vacation with them.
    My brother had multiple kids in another part of the country, and he and his wife always seemed resentful of the relationship my sister's kids enjoyed with our parents/their grandparents. However, I think this was a case of logistics. My parents went to visit when they could, but the travel was very difficult for them.

    My kids were born after my parents died, but I'm glad they have grandparents on the other side.
  9. Buck

    Buck Well-Known Member

    I'd also point out that you are attributing some very negative motivations to grandma's actions - 'trying to buy affection' and 'attempting to upstage' your wife and you.
    I'm not pretending to know the woman. Maybe both are true. Certainly, in the case of any 'upstaging,' that could be an outcome even if it is not intentional.
    I happen to know and live with someone who has tendency to ascribe negative intent and motives where none are present.
  10. StaggerLee

    StaggerLee Well-Known Member

    We're fighting this seemingly losing battle right now. It started when I moved the family five hours away for my job. She didn't see the kids as much and she would counter that by buying them stuff anytime they asked for it. When the kids would go visit for a week, she'd literally spend $500-700 to entertain them, taking them bowling, go-karting, to the movies, water parks, etc. I would talk to her and tell her not to do that because we were trying to teach the kids about earning things instead of just being given things all the time. She'd say she only does it because she doesn't see them enough and wants to make them happy.

    When my dad died, the presents started to get bigger. She recently bought my oldest son an iPhone, even though we told her he wasn't old enough for one (11 at the time). She went against our wishes and bought it anyway and surprised him with it. She gets mad when we punish him from it, but that's part of the deal. She really spoils him above the other two kids, which is also a problem. My middle child is smart and he sees the discrepancy and he will point it out. It creates some tension between him and the oldest child.

    I know she means well. I know she's just trying to give them everything she didn't have as a kid, but it undermines everything we're doing to teach them how to work for what you have. My oldest thinks his grandmother is an ATM. He will say anytime he needs something, "Well, just call (grandma), she's pay for it."

    The other thing is my mom's retired now. My dad spent the last year of his life paralyzed and had huge hospital bills. I don't know how much longer her money is going to last (I don't get into her finances), so I don't want to see her scraping her pennies when times do get tough.
  11. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    My biggest problem with my mother isn't that she showers my kids with stuff, although I don't love it. But that she lets them get away with shit that she shouldn't let them get away with, leading to behavior problems.
    StaggerLee likes this.
  12. micropolitan guy

    micropolitan guy Well-Known Member

    Lots of valid points here but to me, here's the main one:

    She's your child. If you don't want your mother doing what she is doing, she should respect your wishes and stop, as you ask. If she continues, simply donate the gifts to charity or a local day-care center.

    If you wanted your daughter raised in the Jewish faith (for example) and grandma kept taking her to Our Lady of Perpetual Guilt every Sunday, you wouldn't put up with that shit. Same concept. She is your child, not grandma's.

    And as others have suggested, it's far less sexy, but far more practical, to put the money spent on Baked Chicken Barbie and other gifts she will soon outgrow into a college fund that will appreciate considerably over the next four years, and that you and your daughter will appreciate in 2030 when she heads off to school.
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