Author Topic: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?  (Read 3177 times)

ChpBstrd

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How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« on: January 11, 2017, 11:34:33 AM »
My 2 year old daughter is the first, and may be the only, member if her generation in either side of our family. The grandparents tend to buy her anything plastic and hot pink from WalMart. This troubles me because:

1) She is being taught that the acquisition if new toys is a constant requirement for stimulation, not creative recombinations or inventive scenarios with her existing heaps of toys. Plus, it makes holidays and grandparent visits about the loot rather than the relationships. These are pure antimustachianism lessons.

2) The toys and clothes tend to be based on cartoon characters. Thus, their personalities, behavior, and contexts are all pre-determined by the copyright owners, or they only function a certain way (e.g. saying 10 phrases) reducing the creative potential of play. Plus, these toys make her want more characterized clothes and toys, because a shirt with Minnie Mouse is clearly worth $4 more than a plain shirt. This is how future BMW leassees are raised.

3) The toys reinforce negative stereotypes about women. Pink toys are for girls, and all other toys are for boys (Lesson: some activities are not for girls. Future extensions include management or STEM careers). The princesses are helpless, inactive, obsessed with cosmetics, and valued for their cosmetic appearance. Folks, these lessons are why women shy away from STEM careers and leadership.

Problem is, all the concerns articulated above are contrary to the GPs' values. They are literally traditionalist baby boomer semi-broke consumer-suckas who think girls really should stick to playing with dolls and don't care if she never thinks she has potential to be a scientist or engineer, even if they could grasp the connection. To them, the cartoon characters and princesses are better toys if the kid gets attached to them, which of course is what they and everyone else encourage.

Has anyone been through this experience? We have quietly returned many things to stores, but it's a PITA, and won't work much longer. They won't ever share our values - hell, I can't even persuade my folks to pay off a 25% interest credit card balance instead of eating at restaurants and buying broken things at auctions, so not even commonsense explanations are likely to work. How can I guide their behavior in directions they can't understand?
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 11:37:50 AM by ChpBstrd »

Pigeon

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2017, 12:00:47 PM »
While I felt the same way that you do, I learned that it gave my ILs a great deal of pleasure to buy the hideous toys, and had little impact on my kids in terms of all the things you worry about, so I just kept my mouth shut and it was OK.  One thing that helped was to actually have a list (books and art/craft supplies in our case) of suggestions for them to buy if asked.   

little_brown_dog

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2017, 12:04:06 PM »
Well there are a couple ways to remedy this or mitigate the problem…
First – make sure you have made it clear to them that you prefer gender neutral toys or a selection of both “boy” and “girl” toys. If you have never actually said “oh be sure to look in the boy’s section too, she needs some toys that aren’t just girly girl” or “we really want to give her a variety of toys” then you can’t blame them when they go for the pink stuff. I also have a daughter and we have actually told people flat out from the very beginning that we prefer gender neutral stuff.
Tell them no more toys - our doting grandparents also have the habit of arriving at our house loaded with stuff for the baby. They can’t help themselves. After a little while, we nicely told them that we don’t need any more X (toys, clothes, shoes, whatever) and instead redirected their desire to buy something towards stuff we do need “but she does need a couple 18mo sleepers, or if you see X diapers on sale, grab her a box.”  After a few times, they got the hint. They still show up with gifts way more than id like, but they have really toned it down.
Try using phrases like “she really has way too many toys already” or “our house is so small, its so cluttered as it is” or “we don’t need that but could really use…” These are very nonjudgmental ways of telling people no more please! Hopefully they’ll take the hint.

It sounds like you might be over-intellectualizing this scenario. It is common for loving grandparents to go a little gangbusters on their adorable grandbabies. And I highly doubt mini mouse herself ever stopped a girl from becoming a scientist. Just refocus them onto different selections (or fewer selections) and try not to get too wrapped up in your intellectual anxieties :)
« Last Edit: January 11, 2017, 12:06:16 PM by little_brown_dog »

GuitarStv

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2017, 12:07:09 PM »
Good luck.

I've learned to just quietly throw out or donate away piles of stuff a couple weeks after our in-laws visit.

StarBright

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2017, 12:21:57 PM »
Two ways I found to deter that All-Pink Wave of Plastic:

1. Wax nostalgic on toys from my childhood. I'm a child of the early 80s so other than barbie my toys were pretty darn neutral. I'll remind them how much I loved playing with Lincoln Logs or random fisher price stuff. Also books - when asked I always say "You can never have too many books or craft stuff." When I end up with too many books and too much craft stuff I quietly take the older items to the local HeadStart.

2. I encourage experiences instead. So instead of bringing a toy, my mom will take my kids to a movie or to the zoo. Then they get special adventures with Grandma and I deal with less plastic.

CmFtns

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2017, 12:27:33 PM »
My approach is always to be direct to people especially your direct immediate family like parents so here's what I would do.

You or your partner, whoever's parents you are referring to says:
"Hey mom & dad... I really would prefer if for gifts for our daughter would stop including things that fall into the category of anything plastic and hot pink from WalMart. While I appreciate the thought, here are our issues with those types of toys (insert 1, 2, & 3).

Here are some alternatives that I know she will love (insert x, y, & z approved toys)

thanks now let's go celebrate the (insert reason for gifting) with some family time"
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cats

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2017, 01:21:49 PM »
Obviously, if you haven't tried to politely redirect your parents to items you prefer, you should do that first.  But if you and your wife have already told them things like "less pink" or "more books" or "less branded clothing", perhaps it's time to be frank with them about where all the stuff they buy is going.  Like, next time they show up with a boatload of toys, you or your wife immediately say something about how you'll have to make a run to goodwill later that weekend, and then explain that you don't want your kid playing with/wearing XYZ, or that you want to save presents for birthdays and Christmas, or that you don't have space for more toys, or whatever.  My mom used to buy me (as an adult) clothes that she would find on clearance that were not my style and never really fit.  She stopped once she asked for a skirt back and found out I had given some of them to the thrift store, and she has mentioned that she doesn't want to get our baby anything I haven't expressly requested because of that incident. 

You could also try teaching your daughter to say things like "pink is GROSS!" or "plastic kills the planet!" and see if that influences them at all ;)

ysette9

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2017, 01:31:50 PM »
I struggle with the excess of crap toys and my MIL's very natural desire to express love by giving my daughter gifts. I've had my husband speak with her several times and we are at the point where if MIL wants to give her something, it is "kept at grandma's house so baby can play with it there when she visits".
It is super tough and harder when it is your own parents. I don't like what my MIL gives my diaghter most of the time but am less irritated by what my own mother gives. However, we can't have double standards so I struggle with either swallowing my irritation with my in laws or explaining to my own mother that she has to back off. Sometimes I feel like this is a no-win situation because having the stuff in my house stresses me the hell out.
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KBecks

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #8 on: January 12, 2017, 01:33:16 PM »
Honest to God, just let them enjoy being grandparents and suck it up.   You can politely give them some gift ideas, but that's about it.

Poundwise

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #9 on: January 12, 2017, 02:49:22 PM »
I have a lot of good stories about the awful toys we've been gifted, but when they are truly annoying, I like to just leave them at parents' house "so that the baby has something to look forward to when she comes over."

I did this once with a string of quacking ducks that wouldn't shut up.  My mother was a little hurt, but by the next time we visited, I noticed that she had cut the string off... because they wouldn't shut up.

raisingbabymustache

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2017, 05:08:36 PM »
Saying that your daughter has way too many toys and re-directing to buying experience-oriented gifts is one diplomatic way to approach this.

However, I think you are over-reacting a bit about these "crappy" toys. Presumably, you are providing your daughter with plenty of gender neutral toys and parenting her in such a way that your daughter knows that she doesn't have to play with dolls or like pink if she doesn't want to. If that's the case, are occasional gifts of pink princess dolls really going to do much harm?

On a personal note, I loved hot pink clothes, Disney princesses, and Barbies as a kid even though my mom did her best to push more gender neutral toys, yet somehow I managed to grow up to become a successful adult and a Mustachian.  My daughter has a variety of toys, most of them are gender neutral, but I'm not going to shame her for liking princesses and I don't dictate what her grandparents buy for her.

MayDay

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2017, 07:31:14 AM »
Asking nicely never got me far.

Two things that have seemed to work:

1.  Complain constantly that we have too many toys and that I am constantly having to take bags of them to Goodwill.

2.  Tell her when specific toys went to goodwill: MIL, I lost it when that stupid paint spinner you got the kids sprayed paint all over the dining room. It went right to Goodwill after that. Please don't buy anymore messy art things unless you plan to keep them at your house. (True story).

I also will be quite upfront, before packages are opened. "Oh look! Grandma got you a gift! You get to open it here, but then grandma will take it back to her house for you to play with there because we have too many toys!".  In front of Grandma.

 If I can keep stuff packaged, I'll regift it or use it for holiday toy drives.

My kids are older now and we are mostly past this.  Enough of being being semi-rude when refusing gifts, and the message has mostly gotten through. Of course I'd rather be polite, but in my experience that doesn't work.

For us it was less about Pink! And more the sheer volume, the waste, the plastic junk.

I've always been perfectly blunt with my parents- my dad actually bought my daughter the same spinny paint think MIL did. I looked right at him, raised my eyebrow, and said "do you really think I'm going to let that in our house?".  Shockingly he didn't want it in his house either!
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 07:33:59 AM by MayDay »
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cats

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2017, 08:21:31 AM »
You could also send your parents this essay:

http://www.monbiot.com/2012/12/10/the-gift-of-death/

For those of you saying "suck it up and let the grandparents enjoy giving stuff", maybe your parents are very reasonable/modest in their gifting, or your tastes are fairly well-aligned so it's not a huge issue.  But if a grandparent is showing up regularly with toys that the parents have expressly said they don't want their kid playing with, I see that as a lack of respect for their own child's values and parenting choices, and something that will potentially balloon into a larger problem down the road if not brought up now.  The fact that OP mentions concern that visits with grandparents are getting associated with acquisition, rather than spending time with grandparents, suggests to me that the number of toys/things being given are too many.

iowagirl

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2017, 09:35:00 AM »
Here's how that same issue turned out for me. Hopefully it will help you in some way.

When my oldest was 2 yrs old I moved into my mom's basement to save money to buy a house. We lived there for 3 yrs. The entire time we lived there I was not allowed to make him clean up after himself so there was no teaching good habits. His room was so full of toys (most I didn't buy) it was always a mess and she expected me to deal with it. I wanted to get rid of them. She said no. I moved those same toys when I moved to my new house. She thought since he had so much stuff I should let him have the master bedroom (I did not). I spend a lot of time getting rid of stuff). As he got older I tried to teach him to work for the things he got. He fought me on it and just asked grandma and she bought it for him. I was young, single and stupid. I let her control things even though I lived elsewhere. He got involved in drugs and when I tried to get him picked up for help since I couldn't make contact with him as it was, she told him and he ran away. So just before he turned 16 his dad decided he didn't want to pay child support anymore so he convinced my son who he had seen very little in those 15 yrs that he should come live with him. Of course he was promised a new car, freedom, ect and get to know his dad. 1 week after the support stopped he kicked him out. I gave him the option to move back home under my rules. He did only to wreck of my 2 cars and then didn't like my rules so he moved in with grandma. I cut him off. No support from me what so ever. She was pissed because she ended up fully supporting him and making sure he made it to school and graduate. All of the things I was told I was a bad parent for trying to do. Now he is 28 yrs old and just finally graduated from college last May and still doesn't have a job because not one of them he has been offered is exactly what he wants and isn't what he thinks he should be paid. I love my son but he is spoiled and entitled or thinks he should be.

I did not make those mistakes with the second one.

Point being they are your kids and everyone should respect your wished on what they need or should have rather they like it or not. If Grandparents want to spend lots of money on them have them put that money in a savings account or investment or something useful. Tell them you would rather have that money saved toward a really safe car when they grow up.

ChpBstrd

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2017, 12:29:27 PM »
These are impressive stories ^.

I know the concrete sets before any parent is ready for it, and I know I don't want to be in a position years from now when my child and I have major values differences that prevent us from enjoying our lives as a family. If she learns love = crap gifts, what should my daughter think of me when I reject that concept.

Grandparents don't always know best. They raised our generation, but it is we who can see the errors they made because we live amongst our peers. Crap-centric value sets are among these errors.

bognish

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2017, 01:31:05 PM »
Only birthday and Christmas gifts get to stay at our house. If Gramma or Auntie wants to get them something else during the year it stays at their house. Auntie had a hard time respecting this so I told my wife to limit invitations and visits until she understood. If they do want to bring one of these new toys home or keep it if it is given to them at our house they have to pick an old toy to send to Gramma's or Aunties in its place so they have something to play with. For birthday's & xmas we give strong recommendations or even buy stuff for them to give the kids.  FIL thought it was funny for awhile to give the kids noisy toys. Most of these were forgotten back at his house and the humor wore off quick.

Metric Mouse

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2017, 01:17:10 AM »
Good luck with this. Some grandparents just enjoy spoiling their grandkids with cheap junk. I've not heard a cure for it.
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Jules13

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2017, 06:12:07 AM »
Granted, I have very reasonable parents and inlaws, but our kids have 'wish lists' on Amazon.  If they see things during the year that they want, I can say, "well, you can put it on your wish list if you want for Christmas or your birthday".  Nearly always works and quells the gimmies.  And then family have a 'go to' spot to see what they are into and can just order from there.  Easy for everyone, especially family who live out of town.

You can also write in gifts, like experiences on there.  We have things like 'gift card to the movies' or 'gift card to McKays' (which is a used book store that we all love) or gift cards to climbing gyms or arcades or whatever.  My Dad usually goes rogue and chooses something off list but he gets an idea of things they like from looking at the list and usually does a good job.  He usually gets them a physical gift and an experience gift, like a trip to get ice cream or a trip to the arcade. 

The more experience gifts they get though, the more they love those the most.  Good luck!  It's hard when you don't want hurt feelings but when family thinks differently about these sorts of things than you do.

ForeignServiceWife

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2017, 11:57:46 AM »
Our only child is the 8th grandchild for both my husband's family and my family. She is the fourth girl for my parents, but the first and only girl for my husband' parents. Surprisingly, it is my parents that we have the hardest time keeping under control.

My husband's parents have always been respectful of the pretty significant differences we have in parenting styles. They know all the details of my extremely challenging childhood and continued family relationships and they understand that we want to raise our family in a different way. My husband also has a VERY unique personality that his parents understand (we both have a wonderful relationship with his family) and that extends to the types of toys he lets our daughter have.

My parents are very conservative and don't do the gender neutral thing. My mother grew up in abject poverty and now she is severely mentally ill, so to her buying things and having things and giving things is the only way to show love and be happy. She cannot fathom happiness without things. And girls playing with boy toys and boys playing with girl toys are a biiiiigggg no no (to give you an idea of her social values, I was often told that I would never be truly happy until I was married and had children, that I should stop my hobby of riding horses because it was distracting me from finding a boyfriend/husband, and that if I ever wanted to find a husband I needed to stop "talking and sounding so smart", because men think smart girls are too intimidating). However, my parents also know that I hate pink, princesses, and Disney. This helps them a tiny bit to know that we won't let our daughter have pink pink pink everything.

All that being said, when we were pregnant two years ago, we laid down some pretty strict ground rules for both sets of grandparents:

1) No plastic. None. Zero plastic. All toys must have ZERO PLASTIC.
2) Nothing that makes noise (obviously this is not fully followed 100%, but it REALLY helps).
3) No batteries
4) No pink
5) Give books, useful/needed clothes, and experiences before giving things.

We are also proactive about birthdays and Christmas and will send a list of very specific things that they can give, several weeks beforehand. That way they don't have a chance to buy crap before they get the list.

Our baby's second birthday is in June and we are asking husband's parents for a couple doll outfits for her doll and a gift card to Old Navy/Carters for summer clothing. My parents will also be asked for a clothing gift card and for an experience gift certificate.

If a toy violates any of those rules or if we just don't want her to have it, it goes to goodwill. We have given piles of toys and girl clothes that are just AWFUL to goodwill. Don't be afraid to chuck it.
Our biggest secret, though? Move 3000 miles away from your family. That will stem the tide of toys and crap very quickly!

It's hard to go back and change the rules once grandparents are used to doing things a certain way, but maybe you could write an email to the effects of "We are at critical mass of toys and something urgent must be done. We are purging most toys that Child currently has. If there is something specific that you have given as a gift that you would like back, please let us know, otherwise most of the stuff is going to charity. In the future, please limit gifts only to birthdays and Christmas. Also, please follow these guidelines when shopping for a gift. If the gift does not meet these guidelines it will not be allowed in our home."  Then list your guidelines. Is this rude? Yes. But I find that most grandparents need a hefty dose of rudeness to keep them under control.
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Helvegen

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #19 on: February 04, 2017, 11:42:48 AM »
IDK.

We have a nearly 11 year old and though we really try to discourage our in-laws from buying her anything, they insist on doing it. We tell them there is absolutely nothing she needs, very little that she wants that isn't $lol$, and for god's sake, don't buy her clothes! We say, if you HAVE to do something, just put the money you would have spent away for her college or something. Seriously, don't buy her anything.

Boxes of random shit come for her anyway. \_(ツ)_/

nobody123

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2017, 11:55:39 AM »
I initially had that problem too.  My parents and extended family completely spoiled my kids for a while, and our pleas to stop buying them more toys were ignored.  But then one day my mom went down to my basement, came back up, and declared, "Your kids don't need any more toys, you can't even walk down there!"  They now get each kid one nice toy (think a $100 Lego set) and then give me a check to put into their 529s.  The extended family followed my mom's lead and now just give them a smallish toy and money for their piggy banks.

Maybe talk to your parents, show them the cost for a semester of college at your alma mater, tell them how your little one doesn't care if she gets 1 or 10 presents to open, and that contributing to the college fund is better for everyone.

E_Monkey

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2017, 07:44:23 PM »
We were very lucky in that our child had very specific preferences about he wanted to play with.

1) Was it part of a wooden train set? 100% interest.

2) Was it train-related? 80% interest. If he saw a wooden train piece, he put the other train-related thing down.

3) Was it a specific book that he really liked? 50% interest. If either of the above two came along, he would put the book down.

We let him open gifts in front of the family. The family soon learned: GIVE HIM TRAINS. Non-compliant gift-givers saw/heard us giving profuse thank-yous and apologies while our son completely ignored whatever non-train item they had given him.

Now, although he's moved on from trains somewhat, he has a toy collection that reflects his interests. He plays with all of it.

Has your child shown any strong preference to any certain kind of toy? If so, you can encourage that kind of toy. When your child moves on, you can sell the entire "collection" to another parent of a child with similar interests. Seriously--we bought several enormous lots of trains, and then we were set for gift-giving occasions for the next few years. We still bless those parents.

Spondulix

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2017, 12:02:31 PM »
Following. I have a 4 month old but we're constantly getting crap we don't need and don't have room for. I'd rather have them spend $30 on a sleeper that we would use every night than toxic plastic crap that's going straight to Goodwill

Hargrove

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #23 on: February 12, 2017, 11:03:48 AM »
I hate the assumption that grandparents are entitled to do whatever they want with your kids.

As some stories point out, that could be potentially VERY toxic. If I insisted on some rule like "no plastic" and the kid got a monument in plastic, and after a few of these and some polite discussions nothing changed, the message is "hah, you had a rule but now your child will be unhappy if you follow it, and you can't do something that makes your kid unhappy! All I have to do is ignore you until you risk a tantrum for addressing the problem! You're stuck!"

There is absolutely no way I would tolerate that. My job is raising the child well, not making sure they are never unhappy.

What about toy limits, if the grandparents are really that obnoxious about it? To the kids: "here are your toy boxes. You can't have more than these, and if they're full, you have to get rid of toys to put in new ones." The game would be getting the "winning" toys instead of infinite toys. The kid would learn that waste is a thing and appreciate, in a way, that their toys have value, and may even ask for no new toys to avoid figuring out what to do with all of them. This can double as an incentive to clean up toys. I know a parent who periodically throws away toys that aren't put away (the kids are 7 to pre-teen now; he's not terrorizing a 4 year old).

E_Monkey

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2017, 08:24:07 PM »
I'm posting an idea one of my friends with a compulsive thrift shopper MIL implemented: she put MIL in charge of shopping for all of the infuriating school dress-up days "since you're so good at it."

Right now our school is doing Dr. Seuss Week.
 
Day 1: Wear a wacky hat
Day 2: Dress like a twin
Day 3: Wacky socks
Day 4: Dress like your favorite character
Day 5: Dress like your future self

You can see how this would drive a parent nuts. But Grandma has a list and she has it under control. She also picks up theme T-shirts for the kids for every minor holiday.

BlueHouse

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2017, 08:52:20 PM »
I was the aunt who wanted to buy my niece everything and anything. I took her to toys r us and let her pick anything she wanted. I even put things in the cart that she didn't express any interest in. I didnt really know how to spend quality time. 
Then one day I walked into their new house and they didn't have a dining room set because they needed all that room to store the toys. There were also toys all over the house. So much stuff. I wanted to barf. Never bought another thing, but I have made things with and for all my nieces and nephews.  Last year my 21 year old nephew told me he still had a cigar box that I glued pictures of him into that I gave him for Xmas when he was 7. Over the years, he has kept all sorts of treasures and mundane things in it.
He has no memory that I've probably only given him 5 gifts in his life, but he also has no memory of every gift that my sister gave him that was left behind after Xmas. Of the few gifts I've given, he remembers most.   Funny how that works! 
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OthalaFehu

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2017, 09:04:03 PM »
The stuff they send through the mail, I do not always open,I put them in a pile for 'Toys for Tots' and other kids birthday parties. The toys they bring in person, I rotate to goodwill in a couple of months, they never seem to notice the difference.
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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2017, 11:54:54 AM »
the last few occasions, my wife puts together an Amazon wishlist and the grandparents buy from that. it has cut down on the crappy stuff.

ChiefMomOfficer

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2017, 02:53:05 AM »
I wish I had a secret - my mother in law is infamous for buying cheap things that break quickly and take up tons of room in the house. Over the years my husband has had to have many conversations with her about the things she picks up for the kids. She'll complain to my husband about money being tight, but then turn around and pick up a bunch of junk. I'd rather she take the $20 and take the kids out for ice cream or something-experiences over things. What I've found works is creating an Amazon wish list full of books, crafts, sturdy wooden toys, and other things your kids can use or that you don't mind having around. I also have no problem politely thanking people for something and then stashing it away. Out of sight, out of mind for kids. You can then either take it out in a few months and it will be a "new" toy, or they'll forget about it and it can be donated.

Laura33

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2017, 04:06:34 PM »
As an old fart who has made it through to the other side of this, all I can say is, meh, probably not worth getting worked up over. 

Are they disrespecting your values and boundaries?  Of course!  Aggravation!  You are the parent!  Respect my authori-tay!
Do those cheap toys send all the wrong messages?  Yeppers -- they are atrocious on any number of levels.
Should you try all the helpful suggestions above -- wish lists, suggestions about what the kids like/don't like, whether you have room for stuff, keeping things at grandparents', etc.?  Of course!
If that doesn't work, can you change the grandparents?  Nope, not on your life.  So the question really is:  is this the hill you want to die on?  Of course you can pull rank and forbid the toys.  But is this issue worth trashing the relationship over? 

I cannot begin to tell you how adamantly I was anti-sexist-toy-crap.  Burns me to this day.  So of course I had a daughter who adored pink and princesses and all of that.  But I realized a few things along the way:

1.  To her, "princess" didn't mean "sit in the tower and wait to be rescued" like it did to my generation -- it meant someone who was powerful and independent.  She was perfectly happy to wrestle with the boys, usually while actually wearing her pink fluffy princess costume.  She took what she wanted from the stories and images and completely blew off the rest.
2.  I was a much, much stronger influence on her than any friend, relative, or marketer could ever hope to be.  And no one and nothing could change that.
3.  Toys and marketing and stuff that goes against my values provide excellent openings for conversations about what we believe and why.  And in the long run, that is what builds strong children.  A/k/a "if you can't be a good example, at least be a horrible warning." 
   3.a.  Horrible warnings can be very, very useful, if they don't live in your actual house and occur only occasionally. 
4.  How you behave/respond to this is also a lesson your children will be learning.  Do you love and accept people only when they behave as you want them to?  Or do you love and accept people despite their imperfections and take them for the good in what they offer?  Is the "stuff" (the quantity/kind/type) more important than the people? 
5.  There is nothing better in this world than more people who love your kids.  Even when they are significantly less than perfect.  See 2, above.

I can also say, from my own experience, that periodic giant dumps of toys do not ruin kids for life.  My mom was Mustachian before that was the name for it; very, very anti-consumer, prioritized savings far more than stuff of any variety.  She had a very difficult relationship with her mother, who was about All The Stuff, and very "women belong in the home" to boot.  And I was the only grandchild.  So every Christmas, I woke up to a giant tree full of presents that were all for me.  It was *awesome* as a kid -- my whole life was otherwise prudent, used, financially responsible, etc., and then boom, here was this plethora of delicious new name-brand stuff.  And yet I somehow managed to grow up, pay my way, earn my keep, prioritize savings -- and hate cheap sexist plastic crap. 

IOW, I turned into my mother.  See 2, above.

Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

MrsPete

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2017, 08:05:33 PM »
It sounds like you might be over-intellectualizing this scenario.
Yep.  If you're uncomfortable with the type of toys your parents are buying, make sure they disappear after a day or two ... and remember that a brief encounter with toys you deem inappropriate will never overshadow your every-day influence.

Telling your parents that their gifts aren't good enough will not go well.  You're judging their choices, and they won't like it.  If this causes a rift, your children will lose -- even if things aren't perfect, your children need their grandparents and extended family.  Instead of telling them they're making bad choices, head them off at the pass and give them suggestions:  Tell them your daughter has recently discovered the Magic Treehouse books and would really love more of them.  Tell them how much she enjoys Legos and suggest that she'd really benefit from an addition to her collection.  Tell them that she's swimming in baby dolls but would love art supplies for her birthday.  With these suggestions, you come off as helpful and insightful -- instead of judgemental and holier-than-thou.  Best of all, ask them to consider a membership to the zoo or a museum in lieu of a physical gift ... point out to them that with a membership, they could take the kids on an inexpensive outing every month and enjoy time together.

If they continue to buy toys you consider inappropriate, suggest that your house is just too crowded to hold them ... and the toys should remain at the grandparents' house.  A few hours every now again won't hurt the kids, and your parents'll have to deal with storing them. 

Incidentally, I had a couple Barbie dolls when I was a kid.  The biggest lesson I learned from them:  I wanted more Barbie clothes, and my mother wouldn't buy them ... so I cut up old clothes and learned to sew ... and then I moved on to people clothes.  That wasn't a bad thing. 

As I think of the really fantastic girls in my senior class, some of them are girly-girls who are very into lipstick and heels ... while others veer the other direction.  Do I think this was caused by the toys they were given as children?  No.  Their toys may've been one item in a long list, but it's hardly a one-to-one correlation as you imply.

FLBiker

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2017, 10:03:14 AM »
Our DD's grandparents have been pretty good, but we have also been very explicit -- we focused our shower / first birthday / Xmas wishlist on eco-friendly, non-gender-specific stuff.  We have also been quite strict on the "no licensed characters" thing.  We've gotten some pushback, but it's actually gone much better than I thought.  To be honest, I think having more absolute rules makes it easier than having to negotiate every single toy.  We also have a non-negotiable "once it's given to us, we can do with it what we want" practice, so stuff that we don't want gets given away.

So the question really is:  is this the hill you want to die on?  Of course you can pull rank and forbid the toys.  But is this issue worth trashing the relationship over?

It's an interesting question.  Personally (and I am UNDOUBTEDLY an extremist) I don't value relationships that aren't built on mutual respect, even if they're blood.  If I've clearly communicated something to someone that is important to me as a parent, and they repeatedly go against that, my interest in maintaining that relationship wanes.  As parents, we are attempting to raise our daughter with a view towards her long term health and happiness.  For us, this means NOT engaging in excessive consumption, fast food, soda, etc., especially while she's too young to (mentally) defend herself (she's almost 2).  This stuff is highly addictive and does not make you happy.  We won't protect her indefinitely -- it's important that she learn to navigate these waters herself.  For now, though, we want to control her exposure as best we can.

So, personally, I think it IS a hill I'm willing to die on.  I totally appreciate that this isn't true for everyone, though.

SisterX

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2017, 11:55:37 AM »
Oh boy. Sorry, there isn't going to be one magic answer to this. I can tell you what we did with my in-laws, though.

First, we acknowledged that my MIL shows love by giving gifts. She looked at me and said, "You know, you're right. My mom would give or send me little things and I always knew that she was thinking about me, and she cared." So of course that's something she wants to give her granddaughter! And she should be able to. Acknowledging that this came from a place of love was probably the thing we did the most right, because following conversations have been much easier since we all know where we stand.

When the in-laws visit I have a list of needs that we suggest, only IF they feel like buying something. That way they know we could buy the needs if necessary, but it gives my MIL a starting point. We're not going to stop her from buying stuff, but if she knows what our daughter actually needs (clothes, shoes, even underwear and socks) then she's far more likely to check those boxes first.

They know we like books of all kinds and encourage lots of reading. One of this year's Christmas presents was a book of the month deal where the grandparents pick out a book (sometimes a specific one at our suggestion) and that way they get to send something each month that is used and enjoyed. I think, since they live in a different state, they're most worried that she'll forget about them between visits. This way they know we're talking about them a lot. (Which we would do anyway, and our girl clearly hasn't forgotten them, but whatever. I won't judge that fear since, again, it comes from a place of love.)

We spoke to them before she was born about the college account, how having money set aside helped both me and my husband. So instead of sending cheap junk for Valentine's Day or whatever, they send a card and a receipt that $25 was deposited into her college fund.

We've also emphasized experience, and pointed out that our living space is quite small. We've also mentioned which toys she plays with the most. Those tend to be the most imaginative ones, like Legos and blocks. Grandma made a "buys book" one Christmas and that's been an amazing one. It's mostly self-contained so we can take it along to, say, the doctor's office or anywhere else where we'd need to wait. It also teaches skills, like zipping and buttoning and tying shoes. So great. We've let our appreciation be known (especially since Grandma spent months sewing it).

The hardest conversation we had, however, was with the endless parade of Frozen items. They found out she likes Frozen (although, not more than any other movie she's seen) and they ran with it. She got: four dresses, shoes, a Halloween costume, a swimsuit, and two bags. We asked to please stop with the Frozen-themed stuff and Grandma got pretty upset. I think she thought we were trying to put a moratorium on all gift-giving when what we wanted was a bit more variety. Some themed character stuff is totally fine. Getting everything themed? Please no. So that was a rough conversation that ended with some hurt feelings, unfortunately. We've learned, and we'll do better the next time we (inevitably) have to bring this up again for something else.

As others have said, it's not the end of the world if she gets outside influences about Pink! and princesses and whatnot. We had friends visit over the weekend and since they left my girl keeps talking about things being pink. I'm sure this is because of the (slightly older) daughter of our friends, as my girl has been saying for months that her favorite color is blue. So we talked about favorite colors, what are mine and daddy's and the grandparents' favorite colors. I asked what hers were and she said blue and red. I think that's the best way to fight back against the idea that girls must love pink, to remind her that everyone gets to choose their favorite colors.

MrsPete

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2017, 03:01:10 PM »
As others have said, it's not the end of the world if she gets outside influences about Pink! and princesses and whatnot. We had friends visit over the weekend and since they left my girl keeps talking about things being pink. I'm sure this is because of the (slightly older) daughter of our friends, as my girl has been saying for months that her favorite color is blue. So we talked about favorite colors, what are mine and daddy's and the grandparents' favorite colors. I asked what hers were and she said blue and red. I think that's the best way to fight back against the idea that girls must love pink, to remind her that everyone gets to choose their favorite colors.
From the mother of older girls:  Don't get wound up on pink.  Little girls tend to LOVE pink ... but by late elementary school they'll HATE it because "it's for babies".  It's not good for you to attach too much importance on whether she opts for the pink dress or the blue.  On such a trivial topic as favorite colors, let her have what she wants today:  The pink dress and the pink crayons will give way to a variety of colors soon enough. 

While you're playing with crayons, ask her WHY she loves pink so much.  If she says, "It's a girl color", that'd be a good opening to discuss how girls are allowed to wear any color they like.  But don't go overboard with it. 

hoping2retire35

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #34 on: March 22, 2017, 01:11:59 PM »
Good luck.

I've learned to just quietly throw out or donate away piles of stuff a couple weeks after our in-laws visit.
attic is getting pretty full.

AMandM

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2017, 09:11:06 PM »
I think it's important to consider what's driving your parents' behaviour.  Are they actually out to undermine your childrearing because they deeply disapprove of it, or are they simply showering their beloved granddaughter with tangible expressions of affection in the only way they know how?  In the first case, a firm, even tough, response is called for--but in this case, it's likely that pink plastic presents are only one arena in which boundary-setting has to happen.  In the second case, Laura's points #4 and #5 apply, and polite suggestions may eventually bring some relief.

My husband grew up in a family where each child got his own huge pile of gifts at Christmas.  When we started having kids (the first grandchildren, both girls), my MIL started doing the same for them, and there was a lot of pink plastic. It took a few years, but she eventually scaled back a lot.  We gave suggestions, we rotated some toys in and out of use, and we gave some stuff away,  but I think what made the biggest difference was when we said, "We don't give them as much as you do." That seemed out of place to her, so she started giving them fewer things and giving us money instead.  I realize now that she probably intended for us to buy them more presents, but we would spend it on things like special Christmas food, an outing, or a new dress.  Also, as more grandchildren came along, out of necessity the size of each pile had to shrink somewhat--though that point may not offer the OP much hope.

OP, your daughter is only two.  Things will not necessarily always be as they are now.  For one thing, as your child gets older and becomes more verbal, she will have more ways of interacting with her grandparents besides opening gifts.  You can encourage Granny reading aloud to her (even if it's a pink princess book), Grandad playing a game with her (even if it's Candyland), her singing a song for them, etc.

For another, your parents aren't the only influence on her.  My MIL gave our girls Barbies; my sister gave them Meccano sets. This is sort of an amplification of Laura's point #2.

If your daughter doesn't watch TV/videos, she will be much less exposed to the negative messages associated with that pink plastic. My 23yo daughter said to me a couple of years ago, "Hey!  You know what I just realized?  Remember my stuffed toy Bluey?  You never told me he was Cookie Monster!"  She had never seen Sesame Street at the time she received the toy, and just making up a name for it was easier than trying to teach her what it was supposed to be.

Also, when your daughter is older you will have many chances to discuss the issues raised by the pink plastic toys.  Our kids recognized pretty early on that the toys with cartoon characters tended to be of lower quality than the non-licensed ones.

Finally, an anecdote to give you hope:  My youngest is a 13yo girl who wears sparkly pink shirts her grandmother gave her.  She also competes in math contests, is on a robotics team, and is working towards her black belt in karate.

Laura33

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Re: How to talk grandparents out of buying crappy toys?
« Reply #36 on: March 26, 2017, 06:58:01 AM »
Finally, an anecdote to give you hope:  My youngest is a 13yo girl who wears sparkly pink shirts her grandmother gave her.  She also competes in math contests, is on a robotics team, and is working towards her black belt in karate.

Exactly.  My All The Pink! 4-yr-old is now 15, chose engineering as an elective (and loves it), wants to be a doctor, plays on the softball team, and thinks pink is an abomination.
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy