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in-laws and the gifts we give our ours baby vs what we give my step-kids

Nope's picture

My in-laws are rather wealthy, and they shamelessly spoil my step-kids, always have. When I first married my husband, I was grossed out by the over-giving that nana gave my step-daughter in particular. SD10 was clearly Nana-in-law's favorite, her first great-grandchild, and my guess is part of that stems from the fact SD10 is the first child from the chosen branch of my husband's family tree; his (as opposed to his aunts' branches--and believe me we've gotten lots of grief over that from them). My husband always has been the in-laws' golden boy and now that I know him better, I can see he's pretty smug about it.

So the in-laws play favorites, and it's obnoxious, and clearly hurts others in the family, who take it out on us. My husband's first kid, a girl age 10 now, lives with us half time with her brother, who is 7. SD10 was so over-gifted that when I was a new step-mom, that I would panic every time I bought her anything, because it was likely to be out-done by an in-law gift.

After the wedding, I tried to decorate our new house, and the in-laws purchased and installed new bedroom furniture for SD without bothering to find out how I felt about it. The attitude seemed to be: "this kid needs US, not YOU to make up for the lack of a mom half the week." Every time I bought her a special outfit for an event like the Christmas symphony that we all attended, THEY would get her an outfit and demand she wear that. It took me a few years to wise up and stop trying. And that was pitifully painful for me, because I show love by providing for people. I enjoyed taking care of them as young kids but it seemed I would never be permitted to provide mom-like things to them because by doing so I made the in-laws compete more and more aggressively to out-provide for them.

Meanwhile, keep in mind, I also have a stepson. He's the brother of the prized ten-year-old, and he's clearly less important to the in-laws, though they also shower him with gifts and attention.

And I have my own daughter, age 14, who lives with us and for a few years the in-laws tried to make it look like they included her equally in their affections, but now they don't really bother. They offered to pay for "all music lessons" in our house, since they are big music fans. But when SD's piano teacher quit, saying, "this isn't a good match for SD-she lacks the discipline," the in-laws magically forgot that they cared about paying for music lessons for my bio-daughter, who is in a youth symphony orchestra and takes private viola lessons. If SD was doing something like that, they'd fly to all her concerts. Note, I don't EXPECT them to pay for my daughter, who is their step-great-granddaughter! But it's an example of how they flake out when it's not their precious golden child.

So, four years ago we had an "ours" baby, and he's the only child of ours, plus the youngest in a blended family of four kids. On my side he has few relatives, and nobody who showers him with gifts and attention. In fact, my father failed to acknowledge his grandson existed until he was three, and my mom is a distant grandmother. So he's got nobody gushing over him, besides us (and my Facebook following, where is kind of legendary--haha). To try to balance out the gifts at holidays and birthdays, we tend to (I tend to --my husband does NOTHING for any special occasion except show up) give him more gifts than we normally would if there weren't step kids who got absolute fuck-loads of presents at every occasion. My daughter, by the way, has more relatives who care on her dad's side (my ex husband's side), but I also tend to compensate with her so that it feels fair in our house.

Well, every time, EVERY TIME, that these in-laws observe my son getting gifts, they rag on me for giving him so much. Meanwhile they show up with a few things for him, a ton of things for my step-kids, and nothing for my daughter.


Is this just my family or is this a blended family thing??? I'm so sick of being judged EVERY Time I see them for his birthday, or a Christmas where the step kids are not here. If the step-kids are also receiving gifts, then they see that they also get a lot of cool stuff from us. In fact, the amount spent is usually pretty even, it just translates into more things for the youngest, and more expensive things for the older kids. But no one ever comments about how spoiled the step-kids are, and they ALWAYS end up opening gifts for an hour past everyone else.


NoWireCoatHangarsEVER's picture

Ya. We have moved to "experiences" too. My 11 year old went ziplining for her birthday. Just took my 7 year old to Universal for her birthday. I was besieged with just endless stuff and drowning in toys. I do like the idea of lessons as gifts.

princessmofo's picture

It's none of their business what you do for your bios and I would curtly and promptly cut them off the next time they tried to interject their displeasure at your decision making. I agree with Sally. It's a control thing for them. Thus, take the control away and tell them to mind their own dang business.

Amcc13's picture

Eugh it's a pain but it does seem to be something that happens

I think some boundaries need to be set. Ideally it should be your husband to do this as it is his family and you will just look evil
Do you think your husband might be able to have a discussion about it? Remind them that they have another grand child? Can he stop being smug long enough to take care of his two sons and make sure they get a share?

Or if you must do yourself then smile sweetly and say 'thank you for your concern but I have this' if they don't stop then point out all the stuff they brought to his party that is not for him and tell them to back off. If they want part of your child life they need to respect you and they need to treat all their grand kids fairly

Continue to take care of your own children first. You are doing a good job trying to balance things out.

Rags's picture

Time on the next visit to have them put all gifts on the table, sort them by recipient, send all of the kids outside for a minute, then nail their favoritism infected asses to the table with clarity.

"You know how you always rag on me for over giving to our son? Well, here is why. You have buried SD-10 in piles of gifts her whole life, you have catered to her, fawned over her, etc... and that is why I try to provide some equity in what my son receives. The gifts on this table is just the latest in your constant game of favoritism to SD-10. So, you can either pull your heads out of your asses, gain some clarity, and start treating all of the kids in this family with reasonable consistency or you can STFU about how I provide and celebrate our son. Got it?”

notasm3's picture

Just tell the ILs to STFU. You don't need to say one more word other than SHUT THE EFF UP!!!!!!!!!!

But if you feel you must say more then look at them with a slightly puzzled look and say "This is my bio child. Those other beings are not." period dot.

You do NOT have to listen to them rag on you. As it's already happened many times it's now time to be direct. STFU.

You cannot reason with stupid and selfish - ever.

Stepped in what momma's picture

You need to demand and also command respect because one you allow them to walk all over you they will continue to do it as you are now seeing.

The next time they say anything to you, I would do as Rags said and send the kids outside and tell them that while you appreciate their input that their opinion was not asked for and therefore it is not appreciated. I would also inform them while they may continue to buy everyone else's love that they can never buy your respect.

If this is DH's parents why isn't he saying something to them? What does he say when they do this things?

ctnmom's picture

Meh. They wouldn't make it through my front door with tons of gifts for one kid and NOTHING for another, with the other two somewhere in between. Toxic and gross. How do you think that makes your 14 year old feel?

MorningFlower's picture

<p>I relate to this a lot.</p><p>mil did that one Xmas and never did it again. Sil ignores ours baby who is now 2 but by the same token will buy SS over a hundred dollars in v-bucks cards and have it shipped to him. Bm and skids live with mil since Nov. &#39;19 so most of the spoiling is done behind closed doors now. It still hurts to see skids get things from relatives that ignore ours baby but I guess I have to let go.</p>

shamds's picture

meaning do everything better.

i do what i want and am confident in that, so I don’t care what others feel they need to do. I buy what i see appropriate for my 2 kids and they are taught to share those toys. If my 4.5 yr old daughter wants a baby doll and my son turns out to like it, i teach them to share.

i will not become a parent that buys 2 of everything. I was brought up on hand me down toys.

thats said we do not have in laws who buy excessive presents favoured for 1 kid... you get presents when its a birthday party or when that kid is born but they are practical things and educational toys etc...

when i finish my studies end of next year and back in the workforce, our household income will be significantly greater than hubbys exwife who hasn’t worked in 26.5 yrs and her husband is a police officer... i know her way is to one up people and she will have her eldest daughter sd24.5 cry to daddy how they don’t have the same living standards as us but that is their fault for not making an effort... 

kids are smart and will see through the preferential treatment and they won’t want a relationship so much with their stuck up half or stepsiblings... its one thing if skids are showered with gifts and selfish about it but completely another if they actually are happy to share it with their siblings...

from the sounds of this post they fall into category 1 and will grow up to see and expect things be handed on a silver platter


Rags's picture

Upon re-reading the thread... I think I would have donated the new furniture for SD to Goodwill and decorated her room as I chose.

When they protested I would have told them that grandious gifts would not be accepted unless there is equity in those gifts for all of the kids in the family.  That would have put the IL's in their place. IMHO the goal should be to continually maintain then in their place.  Idiots who are this cluless though overtly toxic have no business being tolerated to run amok amongst reasonable people unfettered.

My SS is my parents eldest GK. He is treated no differently than their other three.   In the case of well behaved quality Skids, the rejection by a spouses family infuriates me to no end.

strugglingSM's picture

Similar here - MIL gives hundreds of dollars worth of presents to my SSs. They get a full christmas from BM, we have given them generous Christmas gifts every year, and then MIL spends what parents would spend, so they essentially get three full Christmas's worth of presents. I get the sense that MIL feels like she has to "make up" for the fact that DH and BM are divorced and she is also perpetually acting like DH is not doing enough. 

DH and I are expecting a baby who will arrive before Christmas. It will be interesting to see if she gives as much to our baby. I'm not sure how much she gives to BIL's kids.

We have also moved to experiences instead of "stuff" that will either go to BMs and never come back (followed by complaints from SSs that we don't get them anything and don't have anything to do at our house) or they will be quickly discarded and left somewhere in our home. We have presents from MIL (things she purchased off lists that BM sent to her and BIL) that are still sitting unopened in boxes in our home. I used to go out of my way to buy things I thought SSs would like, but they would often make rude noises or faces when opening them, so I stopped. Both kids are pretty rude gift receivers, if they don't like something, they will throw it aside and neither parent will say anything to them about it.