DEAR AMY: I just had a baby. My mother in-law has said she will buy us mountains upon mountains of toys. I believe her.
Last Christmas, our niece, who is 4, received nearly 20 toys, including a $500 item, from just my mother-in-law. The child receives gifts from every family member, so it’s not like no one else buys things for her; there is no need to “make up” for gifts she wouldn’t receive.
It’s like this every holiday/birthday. A million toys, too much money spent, while my mother-in-law is behind on her mortgage and repeatedly asks us for help!
I have said to her that at Christmas I don’t want too many toys for my child. I was told how horrible that is of me, how dare I deprive a child of playing and that I’m being selfish. My husband tried backing me up on this, but his mom wouldn’t hear it. We suggested alternatives, like contributing to a college fund, but she says she’ll do whatever she wants.
I flat-out told her if we receive too many toys, they will be donated. Now, she is buying toys for an infant, sometimes multiples because she forgets what she bought!
I am outraged at her behavior and her blatant disrespect for our wishes. She is lonely and none of her kids can seem to rein her in. I do not know what to do anymore.
DEAR ENOUGH: Your mother-in-law may have a problem bigger than her overspending. If she is forgetting what she has bought and can’t seem to pay her bills, she might be struggling with memory or mental health issues.
You and your husband must be on the same page. If or when you receive a mountain of toys for the baby, ask her to choose one to give to the child and you will return the rest and return the money to her.
Do not act angry or harsh, but loving and firm. Say to her, “We asked you not to do this and we feel very strongly about it. Your generosity is creating problems for us. The best thing now would be for you to hold the baby and enjoy her along with us. That’s what we really want for Christmas.”
DEAR AMY: My daughter is getting married. I am happy for her and don’t want to interfere with her plans, but I am afraid that she won’t ask her stepfather (my husband) to walk her down the aisle.
He has been in her life for a long time, while her father has not. I know he would be hurt to be excluded, and might even choose not to come to the wedding if he is excluded.
Mother of the Bride
DEAR MOTHER: Many women choose to walk down the aisle alone or with their partners — not their parents.
The idea of a man “giving a woman away” strikes some women as antiquated and sexist. Perhaps your daughter feels this way.
This is your daughter’s choice and I suggest that you accept it and not set this up as a hurtful exclusion, but as a choice. Staying away from the ceremony because of this would be hurtful.
It would be great if your daughter saved a “spotlight” dance for her stepfather; this is one way she can highlight the relationship.
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