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rattlesnake December 25th, 2017 05:25 AM

Overindulged the grandkids.
I have two grandchildren, a 7 year old girl and 9 year old boy. Because the parents were young and quite frankly immature when they were born, I have been very involved in helping them with their children who were born when xDIL was 18 and my DS was 19. Her family (especially mother) is very messed up and was not able to help in the same capacity that I did through all the years up until now.

My H and I have probably had the kids here on average about 1 or 2 days per week (over night) since they were born, but we have no legal rights and I'm not suggesting anything different. The parents are now divorced after being married for 6 years, and the kids went through a lot of additional hell during that time, which caused me to be even more protective and shall I say "motherly" to these kids. I have not tried to spoil them though I'm sure it might appear otherwise to some. I make a comfortable living and do love to get things for the kids, but I don't see that I highly overindulge them. I know these kids and know what they like to play with, and much of what I get them is educational (I'm an educator by profession). At the very least, what I get them encourages imagination.

I will leave my xDIL mostly out of this but she has some serious issues, some of which have involved CPS, but she denies this to the outside world and most probably view her as mother of the year, very sweet, soft-spoken, etc. I think for the most part she had gotten better over the years, after being with the new man whom she left my DS for. I wish I could say that I blame her for leaving DS, but I don't. I hate the way things happened, the cheating, the lying and denying of the cheating (which I know she did and how she even used me by telling me sometimes she needed to clean her house and study so would I get the kids...turns out she was entertaining a man or two while DS was traveling OTR for his job). But this is about DS, not her even though both parents are a reason I am so involved and concerned for my grandbabies. In spite of everything, I probably now get along with xDIL better than my own DS.

Last year DS was angry that I overindulged the kids at Christmas, got them more than he did, which he says makes him look bad and they would rather be with me than him.

DS is now 29. But quite frankly he gets them almost nothing, doesn't think about them when they are not around, only thinks about himself. He gets himself whatever he wants all the time. In fact, I believe it was last year that he went to see the Star Wars movie something like 5 times in a theater. I'll try to keep it brief but he has trouble managing his finances and has had his utilities shut off in the past due to non-payment.

I also believe last year he was most upset that I got an XBOX one for this household. Even though we have other grandkids besides his two, and my H and I do use it too, he seemed to lump that with gifts for his kids in with everything else we got them (mostly dolls, toy trucks, lego sets, etc.). He was angry we got them too much and made me "agree" that I would only get them each one thing this year. I half-heartedly must have made some sort of "agreement" with him but let me tell you my heart was not in in it and I argued about making the agreement before I did it. I suppose I finally agreed since his alternative was to not let me see my kids at Christmas. He never had the conversation with my H who is his step-father and "indulges" the grandkids as much or more than I do even though they are not his bio grandkids.

Well, this year came around and I was left with the dilemma. About my biggest joy in life is to see grandkids smiling and excited on Christmas. How would I get around this agreement? Well, I decided to get more than one thing, put it in a box for each kid and they would just open one box. It actually was scaled way back from last year, even though I don't think we went extremely overboard last year, either.

If only DS was not at my house when they opened it, it probably would have worked. But once again he was furious. GS's box had something like three toy vehicles sets (he loves semis with trailers and there is something on the trailer, like tractors or cars). It also had a hotwheels track toy ($10 gift) and two hotwheels vehicles.

GS asked for "all of the descendants dolls" and some My Little Pony things. I was able to find 8 different Descendants dolls (they are the size of Barbie Dolls). That is certainly not all the characters from the movies but yes I knew she would love them. One package had four of these dolls in the package and that was how it was sold. Another package had two, and the other two were ordered as individual dolls to make 8 all together. I also got her a $3.00 set of generic dollar store "little ponies."

Well, DS was furious and ruined Christmas over this but of course in his mind it was me who ruined Christmas. His exact words were that I "did not follow the rules" and he was going to make the kids pick one gift from the box and they had to give the rest to charity. Of course they started to bawl and I tried to reason with him but there was no reasoning. He took the kids and left before eating. All I could think of is the grandkids and I wishing I had followed his "rules" to avoid this. But somehow it does not stop my anger at him and my heartache for the grandkids. In the heat of my anger I told him I'd never forgive him. But the truth is that I have forgiven him for worse and I love my son even though a lot of the time I don't like him. I called him and told him to come back have the kids pick their 1 toy and go ahead and give the rest to charity. He actually came back and did just that and stayed and ate with us and said "I love you Mom" and hugged me. Inside I just wanted to scream at him, still. I guess the reason I'm writing this now is I want somewhere to vent.

Next year of course I will "follow the rules." Of course this is far more complex than I can really express here, but he knows that I know if I don't "follow his rules" he has the power to keep those kids away from me and he will do so, rather than put their needs and wishes before his own need to be 100% in control of everything. I'm not looking for advice, really, just want to vent. I already know what I have to do and that is comply with my DS's rules. Incidently his ex wife does indulge the kids. She has no money either but signs up for Toys for Tots and they get far more from that alone than what I got the grandkids. Just sayin' Believe me if he could still exert any power over his x wife's decisions on what to get the kids, he would do so.

KayKay December 25th, 2017 12:39 PM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.

I am sorry for your pain. My heart breaks for you. But honestly, I have been where your son is. I had a "one gift per child, per occasion" rule that applied to everyone in my family and in my husband's. Everyone thought it was reasonable and everyone followed it, except my mother in law. No matter how politely I asked, no matter how much I begged, no matter how many alternatives I offered, no matter how much I tried explaining my rationale, she ignored me and inundated my kids with gifts. I tried everything I could think of, and the year she did the end run around me by putting everything in one box like you did was the year that sent me over the edge. It was a big slap in my face as a parent. Fortunately for me it was clothes and my kids weren't upset at not getting to keep them.

My dilemma here is that I think you just wanted to vent and to get sympathy. I DO feel sorry for you. Are you interested in feedback and gaining an understanding of what your son is thinking? I think if you understood how he is feeling and why he instituted that rule, you'd see that there were much, much better ways to handle it, still giving your grandkids joy and respecting your son at the same time, than the way you did.

LucyVanPelt December 25th, 2017 05:42 PM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
Oh, dear, you really wanted to give the kids a nice Christmas, especially since you see your son failing in this. Your heart is in the right place.

rattlesnake December 26th, 2017 04:43 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.

Originally Posted by KayKay (Post 85443)

I am sorry for your pain. My heart breaks for you. But honestly, I have been where your son is.


Thanks for your response. I do appreciate hearing your perspective and it makes sense. Believe me, I got the message loud and clear that next year I will get them only 1 gift. But there are parts of this situation that I highly suspect are different than your situation. Nobody else (other than me) was given this "rule" but admittedly, I suppose most got them only one thing anyway. The one thing my oldest DD got them probably cost 3 times what was in "the box" for each of the kids; I'm not sure if that should make any difference but thought I'd mention it.

Now even after writing what I wrote yesterday, my DD and her boyfriend were over at DS's house and her boyfriend mentioned he saw hardly anything there for the kids to play with. I knew that already but had not mentioned it nor expected someone else, an outsider, really, to notice this and comment on it.

Actually I was "allowed" to get them clothing gifts other than the "1 toy." I got them quite a few clothes because once again, I knew they NEEDED the clothes, and neither the mother nor the father seem to have any budget for clothes for the kids. I will say that DS's girlfriend does buy the kids clothes so the lack of clothes that fit is not as big of a problem as it used to be. Before the gf moved here though, last year I subbed at the kids' school and my granddaughter was squeezed into a pair of very short shorts that looked more like underpants, and the snap would not close at the waist so it was unsnapped. A staff member took her to the office where they keep a stock of elastic waist shorts, etc. for kids who don't come dressed appropriately. She was in 1st grade at the time.

It was my xDIL who sent her to school like that, but DS without the help of his new girl friend, would NOT have done any better. Part of my point is that these kids are not really overindulged but of course that is just one person's opinion (mine).

I will handle it next year by giving only 1 toy because it was my grandkids that got hurt this time and he was willing to hurt his own kids in order to "show" me who is in charge.

He posted on Facebook (before Christmas) that he told the 7 year old we were not going to Grandma's house because Grandma got run over by a reindeer. She bawled hysterically and he thought that was very funny. His girlfriend thought it was funny too. I don't think it is ever funny to make children cry. That is not how I attempted to raise my son but his father (my x) is that way. As I said in the previous post, I cannot really blame my xDIL for not being happy with DS even though she has her own set of issues and problems too. Again, thanks for sharing your perspective. I do invite perspectives. It is just that I don't want to be lambasted, (and you were polite and respectful which I appreciate). What is done is done and yes I learned my lesson and it won't happen again.

rattlesnake December 26th, 2017 04:50 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
Thanks, Lucy, for your comment.

KayKay December 26th, 2017 11:06 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
Thank you for coming back with the update, rattlesnake. :)

I agree with Lucy - your intention was pure and it is upsetting to watch your son fail as a father. You wanted to right an injustice, and that's completely understandable.

There is much that you didn't mention about your son's situation that probably doesn't matter, but my perspective when I read your original post is that your good hearted attempt to give your grandkids a good Christmas undermined your son as a parent. I know you realize that now. It came across to me that your son is really frustrated; I don't know if his ex is causing problems or using the kids as weapons, or if he feels like no one lets him have any say in how his kids are raised. I realize your frustration too, that he's making selfish, poor decisions where the kids are concerned.

My perspective is that this is a sticky situation all the way around, so what's best for the kids? It is best for the kids to have you in their lives. But it is ALSO best for the kids for their dad to have some authority over them. At ages 9 and 7, they need to respect their father (I'm not saying they don't - I'm just saying that a strong father figure is so beneficial). What I would be afraid of is that your grandkids will learn "Dad won't let us have x so we'll just ask Grandma and she'll give it to us." I have known grandparents who have done that, and the grandkids end up with cell phones by age 10 or on birth control and having sex at age 14 without the parents' knowledge or consent (true story). So is there any way for you to help your son be a better parent?

What I begged my inlaws to do (and they thankfully did eventually after a few battles) was to limit the gifts but put money in a savings account for college. I wasn't trying to prevent them from having a relationship with my kids. I just wanted them to respect my rules as a parent, which I had set in place for a reason. (This was a recurring problem with my mother in law, not just with gifts, but with everything. I'd say, "Tell Grandma thank you!" and she'd respond, "They don't need to say thank you!" Sigh.)

There are so many ways for you to give your grandkids a joyous Christmas, which is really your goal! Don't feel discouraged. Just find ways to work with your son to bolster him as a parent. Explain to him that you don't feel right giving your other grandchildren more than you give his kids. Maybe he'll loosen up a little. Offer to buy gifts for him to give as Santa, if that is better. Give the grandchildren gift cards as the one gift and ask your son to take you along with them shopping. The goal is to give the kids joy without making your son feel bad about himself. :)

snafu December 26th, 2017 07:20 PM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
I'm going to add my own perspective (keep in mind I don't know your family's entire background/dynamic)

When I ex and I split I was poor, really poor - I didn't even have cable - I got 1 channel - the free local station (I chose to spend that money eating out with a group from church instead of on TV)

When my DS's birthday/x-mas came around ...sigh... my former in-laws out-spent me... if I got DS $$ Thomas the Tank engine set.... they'd get the $$$ set.

Broke my heart that what they got him was better/bigger. They weren't trying to hurt me - but the things I got my DS weren't special.

One time though my $15 gift was "better" (DS's favorite) over a $$$ toy set that my former in-laws got him. (That $15 mobile is still up in his room 16 yrs later)

rattlesnake December 27th, 2017 04:14 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
Thanks for sharing your perspective. It makes a lot of sense. I am absolutely devastated about how this Christmas turned out and I wish I could go back and abide by my son's "rules."

But at the same time, yes this goes far deeper than him feeling bad that I outdid him for what the kids got from him. I would have happily given him EVERYTHING I got (which was a total of less than $100 per kid, not that extreme but still much more than what he got them which was almost nothing, maybe a picture for their wall in their room or something).

Part of the reason I do it is because he gets his kids nothing. Is he short on money? Yes, but read my first post. He does not short himself at all. I believe he actually went to see Star Wars MORE than 5 times last year, all in a theater, and he could not afford it. I have been "enabling" him to live far above his means ever since his divorce 3 years ago. I guess with this Christmas episode, it stops now. I won't enable him any more. I love my son but he has issues and I just can't help him and I don't want my grandkids to suffer because he is immature and selfish.

And this Christmas his sister got him and his girlfriend a slow cooker. He seemed disappointed it was not some big star wars mask thing (a toy for a 29 year old boy). She also gave him a cookbook and he put it aside saying I get a new one of these every year. I mean if this "boy" would set the same example he expects from his kids, I would feel differently.

I've been scouring the internet for something to relate to here, and I get it. Parents don't want their house full of toys and their kids being materialistic, and they don't want to be outdone by the Grandparents. But these kids don't have a houseful of toys, at least not at their dad's. In the past they have chosen to leave most toys I get them at my house, but this causes a different issue. They'd rather be at my house than his. He'd like to believe that is because we spoil them with stuff and just plain spoil them. But I believe it is because we LOVE them and pay tons of attention to them and do things with them and hug them and tuck them in bed at night. I know their parents (neither father or mother) do this because the kids TOLD ME.

My DS's gf is 30 with no children and she definitely means well and is probably more likely to "tuck the kids in bed" than either parent. But one thing that she does drives me nuts. She is quite overweight herself. I'm not judging her other than to say she is not the final authority about what healthy eating entails! She is like a food nazi to the kids, stands over them watching what they eat, telling them they can't have this or that unless they eat all of whatever. My GS has had strep throat several times this year and every time she sits over him even with that, making him eat something like a lettuce based salad, which he likes when he feels well, but not so much when he has strep throat. And several times he has thrown up after eating this salad and she goes around telling me and others that he is being spoiled and stubborn and makes himself throw up on purpose after eating that.

I just know my grandson and he does not make himself throw up, ever!

LucyVanPelt December 27th, 2017 05:51 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
I think that last post is getting to the real root of the problem, rattlesnake.

I suspect this is your real motivation for being overly generous: You know toys aren't going to make up for neglect, or borderline abuse, or just plain meanness, but maybe they'd bring some comfort and let the children know they are loved.

Put the money you'd spend on the toys in an account and use that to give your grandchildren happy experiences instead, just a trip to get ice cream or something. Let them know they are loved unconditionally. Be positive with them, never criticizing their parents or the GF, but actively listening to them. You can be a place of comfort.

I am so sorry you and your grandchildren have to experience this.

Knot2loud December 27th, 2017 05:58 AM

Re: Overindulged the grandkids.
It's nice that you give your grand children presents. Giving more than the parent? Meh... That's you choice, although I would recommend limiting the quantity of items down to something they would really like to have.

You son is immature for his age too. He needs to grow up. The fat girl... I don't know what to think about her.

Grandkids are great. I'm glad you didn't complain about them staying over a couple nights a week.

I have no suggestions... Just do what you feel is the right thing to do.

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