MIL gave my kids used toys...what would you do?

Becky - posted on 02/02/2010 ( 42 moms have responded )

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My MIL put no thought whatsoever in giving gifts. She gave my cousin-in law a sweater that belonged to nursing home patient. When my son was born 3 months ago, she gave him used clothes,bibs with strings(can't use for safety reasons),a fleece cover for the baby carrier that she admitted she bought at a yard sale and didn't wash,and a used,dirty beanie baby for my daughter. For Christmas, she gave my kids 5 stuffed animals-3 were used,1 was obviously a gift with purchase,and the last 1 she bragged to me years ago that she bought for only $7. So,in total she spent $7 on my kids. I am annoyed at this because she gave my 13 y/o step-son a $20 gift card,and I doubt she has ever given him something used. She just gives him better gifts. My husband's brothers and sisters have never given my kids a dime. I know I sound materialistic,but I'm not. I know it's the thought that counts,but honestly,what kind of thought goes into a used gift or no gift at all? I think no thought. What are your opinions and what would you do if you were in my situation?

I should mention that the toys were toys she found in her basement from her other grandchildren,and they were a little dirty. I don't mind that they are used,but at least have the common decency to clean them.

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Lindsay - posted on 02/02/2010

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I honestly think you are making a big deal out of nothing. It shouldn't matter if she gives him brand new things, used things, or nothing at all. She has no obligation to give anything so I would appreciate that she did think enough to get gifts. Wash up what you can and will use and donate or get rid of the rest. It's not worth a family fight.

Lucy - posted on 02/06/2010

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This is an opportunity to teach your kids about being gracious. Accept a gift in the right spirit, no matter what spirit it was given in. And give with thoughtfulness. Don't waste your precious energy on being resentful. That only hurts you.

Sha - posted on 02/17/2016

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So she gave your stepson a $20 gift card and your kids got used, dirty pressies from yards and her basement. Wow such love for her grands cough cough!! Not being stuck up or rude but I would feel so hurt and angry why? because we do not live in a third world country and if we did, then by all means thankyou but there's cheap stores around that sell new toys for $2!! Even that might have been better. I'm not rich who is these days? But we always do our best to provide our children the best, even if we buy them used clothes/toys we would know to wash it and make it look decent no probs there, but others saying well at least she thought of them, really? I'm assuming and I know I shouldn't but your MIL's thoughts were clearing her basement and saving her money for her preferred grands. Next time she gives you dirty toys/clothes for the kids make sure u say thankyou and infront of her dump it in the bin the last thing u need is sick children.

[deleted account]

I really don't think giving used gifts is tacky - reduce, re-use and recycle and all that! (that's an Australian saying for trying to be more environmentally responsible and not accumulating stuff!)

At least they're thinking of them.

Rosie - posted on 02/08/2010

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i agree with you. my husband's step-grandparents would spend lavishly on his sister (their biological grandchild) and in turn he would get a bike tire pump. he has very firm feelings on what he thinks of these people, he thinks they are trash. who the hell in their right mind would do that? i've never met them and don't want to-it speaks so much about them, by how they choose to treat one grandchild over another. there are other issues there as well, not just the gift giving, is there other problems with the MIL? what does your husband think of her behavior?

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Laura - posted on 02/06/2010

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accept the gift and if it is not appropriate let it vanish remember she thins she is doing a wanderful thing and if anything it teaches your children respect for her which even though she is tacky she is there to love them and you

Stina - posted on 02/03/2010

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At least she thinks to give them something. In the nearly 6 years of my son's life, my MIL has given presents for 2 Christmases... Nothing for birthdays. Not even a birthday card.

So thank her- discreetly weed out the unsafe stuff for your kids and clean the rest.

[deleted account]

Ranting about it may be what she wants you to do. Don't. Just say thank you and teach your kids to do the same.

[deleted account]

To use a cliche, it's the thought that counts. Just wash them and move on. Don't take it personally. You don't measure gifts by how much they cost!

Latisha - posted on 02/02/2010

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I know exactly how you feel Becky because that has happened to me with my very own grandmother. I can't stand favoritism and I wont stand for it in my family. I dont care if my mother in law has something against me, she better not ever treat my child different, it has nothing to do with the child, plus it shows how imature they are. Nobody should purposely give somebody something used, just because they feel like they're not good enough. To me, that's all my grandmother said to me, and that sounds like your mil too. I don't like to fight in the family either, but a person can only take so much. If I were you, I would first try to calm down, talk to my husband about what you would like to do (husband and wives should always be in agreement), then you and him go to her and talk (like adults) and explain to her how you feel. You don't have to talk to her in a rude way, but you guys are family, and if anything that they have done bothers you, then they need to know. The last thing you need is to hold on to these feelings to end up having resentment towards her. It's not worth getting High Blood Pressure over it.I believe once you've done that, you will begin to see a change. Hopefully for the better. I hope things work out in your favor.

Sharon - posted on 02/02/2010

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She sounds like a slob. Take them with a grain of salt - so to speak.

thank her for the kind thoughts and when she isn't looking, pitch them into the garbage or donate them.

She didn't put any thought into the gifts, she'll never notice you aren't using them.

Gwen - posted on 02/02/2010

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My mom has bought used clothing and toys for my daughter. As long as they are clean, I see no problem with it.

Michelle - posted on 02/02/2010

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I don't think it is worth a fight either . I would be the better person , accept the gifts , wash them myself if it is not something harmful . And by all means if it is something that is harmful , toss it ! Your childs life is not worth risking for some baby item that has been recalled due to safety issues .

Yes , it is wrong and selfish to complain like that , but I must be honest , anyone in your situation would do the same thing . My Step mother buys all "her" grandkids TONS of expensive popular toys for Xmas , my kids each get one outfit and it hurts "their" feelings .

Then , every year "her" kids all get expensive gifts , one got a diamond necklace and earrings , another got an expensive kitchen appliance , another got big tool box with all the nice Sears tools . I got a small gift basket of bath crap that smelled horrible and the sticker was left on the bottom which said $4.99 .

Even with the best of intentions my mother use to grab things here and there used for my kids . Occasionally it would be a win , once she bought a walker that looked like a torture device from the 80's and was upset that I threw it away . I remember my younger brother having one just like it , and being rushed to the ER where he busted his mouth open from it tipping . I think sometimes our older family members don't always remember everything !

Emilie - posted on 02/02/2010

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I can understand how you feel, my ex husbands mother never bought my kids anything, if she did ever buy them anything if was something extremely cheap. Then she buys her other grandkids stuff all the time. I don't really care that she buys them cheap stuff, I would just like for her to treat them equally. My uncle bought my son a box of toys from a yard sale, I didn't care because I know he put thought into it and he buys all kids stuff from yard sales I know that he isn't show favoritism. I understand how you feel it is not really about the gift it is about the thought. I just don't ever say anything, I just hope that it doesn't hurt my kids feelings, if it ever does then I will say something.

Alison - posted on 02/02/2010

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My mil loves to shop, but she doesn't have much money, so she shops second hand. She just cannot resist when she comes across what seems to be a great toy (in her eyes). It does annoy me, because the girls have enough toys that they don't need these, but I just say thank you. If it is inappropriate or not nice, I just give it away.
Don't take it personally, just learn to accept that this is who she is.

Christine - posted on 02/02/2010

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Smile say thanks and move on. My dad doesn't get my kids anything for their birthdays, not even a card. At Christmas he gives my younger brother money to buy them gifts because he has a hard time getting around. It is your MIL's involvement in their lives that is important, not the STUFF she gives them whether it is high end, bought in a yard sale or found in a box in her basement. Oh, being annoyed at what she gave your stepson is petty and unfair to him. Your MIL in her way is being generous and thoughtful to her grandchildren, you don't have to agree with or like what she gives them. But a little positive feed back will go a long way to change her future purchases, 'The kids enjoy stuffed toys but because of allergy concerns, they can't have used or old stuffed toys'. As for washing first, even if she had, wouldn't you still wash in a detergent that you knew your kids weren't sensitive to. Nothing is clean enough until I have washed it myself. Best of luck

Amber - posted on 02/02/2010

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Getting anything is a gift in itself. Getting a used item is more toughtful than a brand new one ( at least I think) because it takes a long time to pick it out. If you're offended, than encourage the children to wash the items up, and donate to a special charity or hospital that other childcaren can use. The children and staff will appreciate that more.

Audra - posted on 02/02/2010

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If you don't like what she is giving you, maybe just suggest something as an alternative - i.e., I'm trying to limit gifts, so would you like to spend time with us instead doing an activity that we all can enjoy? Make memories, not enemies.

[deleted account]

i personally would take it back to the second hand store, or if you cant give it to the goodwill, i

Becky - posted on 02/02/2010

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I should mention that the toys were toys she found in her basement from her other grandchildren,and they were a little dirty. I don't mind that they are used,but at least have the common decency to clean them.

Ashley - posted on 02/02/2010

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oh wow i know how some of you feel ... my husband-to-be's "mother" i use the term lightly because all she has really done for him was give birth to him. is the same way .. theyare no longer speaking she has never seen our youngest daughter and hasnt seen our oldest since she was almost 8 months old she is now 27 months old on the 6th. when it comes to being equal she never treated ehr children as equals she buys her daughter everything under the sun and never do half that stuff for her son (my better half) before they stopped speaking in july of 08 she told him she got tickets to a concert for her and his sister to go to his sister didnt even know much about this band except for her parents liked it. its my fiance that knows the songs and would have loved to go .. but thats just one of them many things .. at easter that year she baught our oldest a jersey and said when she grows outta it i want it back ...so for my oldest first birthday we invited her even tho we didnt want to none for the family showed up except for one of the aunts .. then we ran into his mother a month later and she tried to blame me for her not being there... and on top of that she didnt try to look at her grand daughter who was sleeping in the stroller .. so you can see why we dont speak to her .. she hasnt even seemed to care that we have a second child or want anything to do with the ids but hey its her loss.... omg sorry that was a big vent ...

Blackwood - posted on 02/02/2010

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My sister and I have no issue buying each other second hand stuff for our children. At such a young age, children go through things soo fast. I don't have an issue with it myself, but if I don't think a gift is safe then I won't use it or get it for someone else. Also keep in mind that what was thought too be safe back in the day has changed alot and it really is up too you to decide what you want your children using. I think that you can't change people and you shouldn't waste your time and worry on them. Best wishes

Danielle - posted on 02/02/2010

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I dont blame you. I make my husband toss the toys right in the trash when shes gone. Even for Christmas' and Birthdays Ive requested she get my kids clothes, that way I know I can atleast wash them if they're used. (which I have no problem with). But when she comes home with a stuffed animal she found on the side of the road we just smile and say thank you and toss it. If she ever asks about it im sure ill just tell her we lost it at Walmart or something. :) Your not materialistic if your main concern is the health and well being of your kids.

Jodie - posted on 02/02/2010

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I think it's fine to use used stuff. Just give it a good wash first. But all the kids should get the same amount spent on them. That isn't fair.

Megan - posted on 02/02/2010

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Where i live there is a second hand store. And ive gotten my son lots of toys that were used or slightly used and he loves them. I also buy second hand jeans at the same place because he grows out of them so fast and we live on a farm so they just going to get stained up. But it really depends on the use of the toy, and the condition its in. The ones i bought were almost brand new looking so it wasnt so bad but it really all depends.

[deleted account]

Well.... I don't go to yard sales, etc... cuz it's too hard for me to find the stuff I want. It's much easier for me to just go to Walmart. My cousin-in-law, on the other hand, goes all the time to find stuff for her family and us. Most of what we own are 'hand-me-downs' from somewhere.

What I would do? If you can clean the stuff and it's in good condition... Keep it. Otherwise trash it. I wouldn't confront her or anything.

Lisa - posted on 02/02/2010

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I've had a similar situation with my sister in law. She is single with no kids and so her holidays with her family are all she really has, and she spends a lot. However, we live in a very small house and she will buy my kids loads of absolute JUNK just to say she gave them a bunch of stuff. (A used potty chair from a rummage sale comes to mind, yes she really gave my daughter that for Christmas 2 years ago.) Also, my two kids are the only kids in the family, so its not like there's so many to buy for that they each only get something little (which I would actually prefer, given our tight quarters). Said SIL also expects top quality name brand items for Christmas and birthday gifts for herself. I'm not sure what to tell you about the situation, as I have often wrestled with how to handle my circumstance as well. I can appreciate your situation as I am often insulted by the thoughtless junk my kids receive too. Hang in there and if all else fails, avoid rude relatives at every opportunity.

Bimini - posted on 02/02/2010

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My daughters family on her dads side is like that. on rare occasions she will get something nice when it is on sale but for the most part of her life they have either given nothing at all. I hate christmas with them, cause most years, the other kids get at least 3 or 4 nice gifts and she usually goes home with a box of lifesavers or something. That includes her dad too.. after we split and until he married a girl that made him be a better dad, he never did much for her either. It use to really get to me, and still does, but I never said anything to them. It isnt worth a fight. Used stuff, if clean and decent, can still be nice gifts if it is stuff the kids want or they get alot of it OR if the people really cant afford more, but they should be fair.. not being able to afford much doesnt mean spend 100 dollars on this kid and only 20 on these two.. but really you have two choices... 1. say something to her about it. that will either.. A. start a family fight that is likely to continue for years to come, or B. if your lucky, maybe she will understand how you feel and try to correct it. or .. 2.. say nothing to her but thank you, get rid of what cant be used or what you dont want, and vent to friends. it sucks.. and it will continue to bother you, but its worked for me. My daughter is loved and happy regardless of how they want to treat her, (Not to mention that both my grandmothers use to do that to me too, My sister and brother and cousins would get more than me with one (something to do with ages ?? ) and the other one would only give me used unuseful things when i got anything at all (she didnt care for my mom, thought my dad could have done better)... I was taught to just say thank you and if i didnt want it to get rid of it. Ive turned out ok. i think. lol. )

Natascha - posted on 02/02/2010

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I would look at it like this bring it up to your husband, and see what he say since its his mother any way. You see it, but he might not have noticed or payed any attention. i do that with my husband, he might get mad but at least it brought to his attention.

[deleted account]

my grandmother did this to me all the time i was 14 and she bought me like little girl clothes or just things that we didnt need... even to this day just useless shit she finds in the house... she gave my husband a toddlers ski cap and gloves that were obviously from another generation... i honestly just flat out told her that we didnt need or want anything from her but to donate her gifts to a family in need... she seemed to like that idea and i didnt have to throw away useless crap that didnt fit anymore...

Jeannie - posted on 02/02/2010

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Daniele has a great perspective on things, I think. Rules! It may seem silly but as she said, since she has made these rules clear, things are better.

Tracey - posted on 02/02/2010

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I asked my sister in law if she would like one new present or 10 second hand ones for the same price for my nephew when he was a baby as we were both out of work. She asked for the second hand ones (quantity over quality - not that I would buy cheap tatty stuff, it was really nice and hardly used) Maybe your MIL thinks your young ones would prefer more toys as they don't understand where they came from?

Shawn - posted on 02/02/2010

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I honestly don't think I would be insulted a 13 year old is much harder to shop for than a 3 month old. The gifts are for the kids not the parents and at 3 months old your son doesn't know it is used. At 13 years old your stepson does and what grandparent ever knows what to get for a teenager in this day in age.

Melissa - posted on 02/02/2010

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Honestly i think you should be appreciative, used or not they still took time to get something. You mentioned a $20 gift card they gave your step son, to me thats insulting because they didnt take time to think of something for him. I also dont think you should worry about who gets better gifts. Ultimately family is the most important thing and you should thankful they want to be a part of your childrens lives.

Jeannie - posted on 02/02/2010

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Well, obviously it is a little insulting to say the least. I wouldn't have taken it personally but since you say she gives your step-son nice presents, it is a little insulting. I wouldn't say anything about it to any family members, just vent with friends that aren't part of the family. I would try not to spend too much time with my MIL if I were you though, nor would I encourage having my kids spend too much time. She just seems to have bad manners.

Daniele - posted on 02/02/2010

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I had a grandmother that did things like that. I was always the 'forgotten' child at Christmas. My sister would get tons of awesome toys and clothes and I would get an obviously used, most often broken stuffed animal or toy. It hurts.



So, when I had kids, I didn't want that to happen to them. So, I made a rule with my family. If you are going to give to one, you give to all equally. I don't care where you buy the toys, as long as they are nice and clean, but there is no favoritism. If they cannot abide by those rules, then they can't see the kids. That goes for cousins, etc. My MIL used to buy my niece and nephew WAY too much at Christmas and birthdays, not to mention my husbands siblings. Yet, she would forget me and my husband. So, now with the new rule in place my niece and nephew and my daughter will all be treated equally, or we will do holidays without any of the family. Since I made those rules things are so much nicer and more pleasant. Not to mention, the gifts for my niece and nephew have been toned down to an almost decent level and my daughter's are comparable. It's not easy, but stick to it. It works. If she really cares for the kids, she will straighten up, even if only to see your stepson.

Jen - posted on 02/02/2010

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you dont have to use the gifts tht am dirty just throw them but never make out your not thankfull. theres lots of good things out there that have been used n sold again my baby has a walker tht was brought frm a carboot sale for a fiver its in perfect conditon. my babys moses basket was brought form a car boot sale too for a tenner tht was in really good condition. you can get very good things not everyone can afford brand new so i wud just be grateful.

Krista - posted on 02/02/2010

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I agree with Lindsay -- it's not worth a fight, and can be a valuable lesson to your kids about being gracious. Your MIL is likely a lot like a friend of mine, who sees things at second-hand stores or yard sales and thinks, "This would be nice for so-and-so!" She IS being thoughtful, in her own way.

In a way, it's actually more thoughtful then running out at the last minute and buying someone a $20 gift card because you haven't put any thought into what they might need or want.

So yeah...I would just thank her, wash/disinfect what I can, and discreetly biff the rest.

[deleted account]

Well, she put some thought into it, just not the kind of thought she would put into it if they were her own I guess. Seriously, who cares how she behaves towards gift giving for your children, Im sure anything she could get them, you could get better and probably do. Your Kids wont miss anything from this, and as annoying as it is having someone care less about your kids then others, just think some kids really get nothing from inlaws, some kids may not even see their grandparents. Put it in the very back of your mind, and dont expect anything great from her. Ever for that matter, anything she decides to do, is either a bonus, or laughable.. (Oh and never compair gifts infrount of your kids) They will feel more upset by it if you do. And you have a choice to either reject such dirty gifts, or accept them and just get rid of them. Sometimes second hand things are fine, and other times they are just accumulative junk.. BTW, how did she grow up? Cause maybe she really knows no better, or her family was on the poorer side so she has a different views on what matters..

Ashley - posted on 02/02/2010

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It is the thought that counts, but I think she should treat the kids equal. Instead of giving your baby used gifts and hand me downs, she could give you a gift card to get him/her something that you know they'll enjoy. Also, my baby has plenty of used stuff, the least she can do is wash it/clean it before giving it to you! I can't complain because my son is spoiled on both sides of the fam, but I know your situation. My MIL will buy her youngest son anything he wants, I know she spent close to $1,000+ on him for Christmas, while she only spent $50 tops on my bf (her middle son)...I think it is totally unfair! I dnt see how someone can treat their kids so unequally...I only have one child right now, but when I have more, I will spend abt the same amt on each one! I won't say anything to her, but I have voiced my opinion to my bf! Good luck with your situation!

Lindsay - posted on 02/02/2010

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My most of my in laws are also very cheap, they give my daughter yard sale stuff or cheap clothes from stores that I would never put her in. We just say thanks and the stuff goes in the trash or to goodwill. We don't say anything to them, as long as they give her stuff they think they are doing something nice.

Christy - posted on 02/02/2010

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My ex husband's stepmom and dad have a $800,000 house, spend WAY too much on stupid things, yet at Christmas (they never get them anything for their bdays) they always give them silly things, like pants from Goodwill that don't fit by like 3 sizes, accessories for video games taht are obsolete, etc. My mom, who makes barely above min wage, tries to find things that fit their personalities! I guess at times it really IS the thought that counts, when there's any thought at all put into it! I feel for you!

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