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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: bisimpson on June 14, 2018, 08:42:05 AM

Title: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: bisimpson on June 14, 2018, 08:42:05 AM
So my MIL tells my wife that my FIL wants an iPhone for Fathers Day—I expected that from my kids, but anyways. My wife's brother already agreed to pay a third, my MIL is paying a third, and she's asking us to pay a third. We normally don't give Fathers/Mothers Day gifts and this really blows what we would normally spend for one of our parents per year (we normally buy something for Christmas and birthdays).

We both feel like the decision has been made—and they did buy the phone—and we're left with no real great option. Right now we've decided to just pay our share, but to take the opportunity to gracefully exit the cycle of gift giving. It feels like every Christmas we just exchange gift cards.

I realize there's no harm in asking and it's our responsibility to say yes or no, but relationally it created some problems for us. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: Lady SA on June 14, 2018, 08:57:35 AM
Ugh that sucks. Sorry you got bulldozed. Be on the lookout for this situation to come up again and nip it in the bud. Things worked out really well for MIL/FIL this time and they might think that this is a great way to get what they want again.
So next time you can see this brewing and they are gearing up to volunteer you to contribute, immediately speak up and say something innocuous like "Sorry, that doesn't work for us."

You can still do this now for this iPhone business, of course, but I understand if you don't want to do that. So, in order to make sure no one gets butt-hurt later during the holidays, you need to make sure they understand what you contributing towards this gift now means.

When you hand MIL your portion, you need to clearly state "This contribution used up our gift budget. This means that during the winter holidays, we will not be giving out gifts TO ANYONE." and leave it at that. They need to get that 1) there are tradeoffs to forcing you to give up your money and 2) it isn't just FIL's "gift fund" that is used up, NO ONE is getting a gift from you now. Otherwise they may misinterpret you to mean that FIL got his one big gift for the year but everyone else in the family will still be receiving their usual gifts.

Do you generally have issues with boundaries with MIL/FIL? What does your wife think? Did she say anything to her parents?
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: debbie does duncan on June 14, 2018, 09:25:04 AM
Use this as an opportunity to have the talk! The one you start with "Hey family... the SO and I are no longer buying gifts for the adults in the family.....Thanks for forcing our hand at this time , it saves us the trouble of picking a good time to start this convo"  TA DA    No more gifts for adults and you can blame the inlaws!  If you do not stop this cold now.....they will use this method as their new bad behaviour.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: Frankies Girl on June 14, 2018, 09:27:13 AM
Um, what's wrong with saying that you're not interested in doing a group gift? You're adults, you get to decide your level of involvement now.

She tells her mom "Hey, that's a nice thought, but I wasn't planning on giving a gift like that and I'm not interested in doing a group gift situation at all, so I am not going in on it, thanks anyway."

If she complains - "so sorry you feel that way, but I'm not interested." and then change the subject and/or end the conversation. (and a nice shut down to go along with this particular situation: "that's not in our budget, so no."

You are allowed to say no. You are allowed to disagree. You are allowed to leave/end conversations you don't want to be in. The key is to do so firmly, gracefully and without getting dragged into defending yourself or making excuses. Just say no (politely but firmly) and move on. It is a skill that is quite difficult to master in regards to family, but it is vital to learn if you have family members that are used to running the show and still expect to maintain the old parent/child dynamics.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: honeybbq on June 14, 2018, 09:32:17 AM
"Sorry, I already bought him a gift ages ago."
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: bisimpson on June 14, 2018, 09:45:58 AM
My wife and I are on the same page. These are some awesome scripts. It's so helpful to be able to put some words to it—besides those first-reaction-type of words.

The threat of creating new behavior is one that I haven't considered.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: terran on June 14, 2018, 09:52:58 AM
Pretty much what others have said, but when we get gift suggestions (and remember, that's what they are, not demands -- grown ups aren't allowed to demand things) outside the price range we're interested in (which they usually are) we say "Thanks for the idea, but we've already thought of something."
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: Dragonswan on June 18, 2018, 10:09:51 AM
OP I don't know your family dynamics but if they're anything like mine, they love to spend my money on their idea of gifts for our parents.  I've even been put in the uncomfortable position of being arm twisted into going on a vacation I don't want even when I offered to pay my share of the parents' cost because it's a "family vacation" etc, etc (not a wedding - I'll pony up for that in a heartbeat).  The worst was when they wanted to send funeral flowers and we all split the cost and the card was signed the Dragonswan daughters. I mean, was I ever going to be allowed to grow up and be my own person with my own identity? (I did put a stop to that by sending my own flowers once so when they called, I said, sorry I told you not to include me in future things; I already sent flowers.) So I feel for you. 

I would tell your family that this time you'll go in on it with them to keep the peace but that you will not do a shared gift in the future, period.  Tell them that part of the joy of being an adult and now having a family of your own is that you get to obligate your money the way that works best for your immediate family unit and they cannot just assume that you can or want to contribute to a group gift.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: charis on June 18, 2018, 10:58:26 AM
"Sorry, I already bought him a gift ages ago."

This.  And repeat it every time that they ask you to do a group gift.  They will stopped asking eventually. 
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: bisimpson on June 18, 2018, 11:04:32 AM
Thanks for the feedback. Here's an update. Major kudos to my wife who had to walk this line with her mom. She gave $100 of the $180 that her mom requested with the line: "This is our gift budget for Christmas for you and dad, spend it on the phone or whatever. And in the future, we're just not going to think about gifts—we're just trading money."

According to my wife, her mom was relieved. We'll see how it plays out.

I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that its alright for people to have different money values. Its okay if they want to buy stuff. It's just that we would like to retire at some point.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: iris lily on June 19, 2018, 02:13:41 PM
Above all else, I applaud you for killing the gifting obligation.

But for us, I considered it a good thing when someone in DH’s family decided what the group gift would be for our inlaws. Made it so easy.

We skipped gifts for DH’s siblings and their children once the kids were kind of grown, but DH was not willing to skip the gift for his parents. And that is ok, whatever we gave them, they exceeded in a cash gift for us. Sure it doesnt make sense, but I just roll my eyes and let DH handle gifting obligations for his family.
Title: Re: Gifts? GIFTS!?
Post by: Fishindude on June 19, 2018, 02:24:20 PM
You got screwed.   Grown up adults don't need to receive special "material" gifts for fathers day, birthdays or even Christmas.   
We should all be quite happy just getting together with our families on these occasions and maybe having dinner or something.  If you feel real generous, foot the bill for the food.