Speaking of Gifts and Family Members...

pammDecember 11, 2001

I know it is human nature to be sensitive about fairness and gift giving. I have a situation where I'm not sure which way to go. My brother, whom I am very close to re-married last year. His ex-wife remains one of my dearest friends and I am working at forming a friendship with my "new" SIL, or I should say *we* are working at forming that friendship. I have met her once and we occasionally exchange e-mails and have talked on the phone a few times.

My problem is that my brother and ex-SIL have 3 children who have always meant the world to me. They range in age from 11 to 17. My new-SIL has 2 young children whom I have never met. They are 3 and 7. I have made it a point to send birthday gifts and such and consider them to be my niece and nephew as well.

In the interest of fairness, part of me says that all 5 children should get an "equal" gift. The other part of me thinks that by doing so it sort of sends the message to my "original" nieces and nephew that they are not as special as I have made them feel all of these years. Am I making any sense here? I'm really torn over this and want to do the right thing for all involved. My dear MIL has suggested that I should acknowledge my "new" niece and nephew with a gift, but, not to the extent of the others. After searching my heart I think she is probably right, but, am still not 100% convinced either way.

Has anyone else faced this type of situation? What are your thoughts, please share them with me. ~Pam

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Hey Pam - we kind of have the same situation. DH's brother has 2 step children, but he has treated them much better than his own son - needless to say this doesn't sit to well with the family. He expects us all to spend as much on his stepchildren as we do his son, yet his wife has treated his son horribly. So we kind of have a similar situation.

I don't think you are obligated to spend the same amount, especially since you haven't been around them much. Keep in mind that the children have paternal grandparents that will be buying them gifts also. Maybe you should talk to your brother about it, and get his take on it.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2001 at 1:15PM
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I think if you at least buy them some presents that will go over better than some people who won't acknoweldge the step nieces and nephews. Could you maybe ask your brother for some help with this one? See if his wife would be offended either way? Good luck to you! You seem like a carign person to even ask and worry about doing the right thing in this situation to try and include these two kids.


    Bookmark   December 11, 2001 at 1:37PM
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We have a similar situation in our family. We are much closer to one of my husband's brothers than the other. He always buys terrific gifts for my girls. The other brother thinks that a 3 pack of Play Doh is more than generous (money is not an issue). When we have a family Christmas, I buy all the kids similar gifts. But, before the event, I send extra presents (gift cards, magazine subscriptions) to the family we are closer to.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2001 at 2:41PM
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Well, the ages of the stepchildren gives you an advantage - they are young enough that inexpensive toys or books are what I would get them anyway, whereas the blood neices and nephews are older,therefore would get something of a little more value. Does what I'm saying make any sense? You know, the munchkins would be perfectly happy with a $10 gift set from Wally World, and the older ones would be more likely to enjoy nice clothing, video games, movies, cds, etc.
Really, the age difference works to your advantage....

    Bookmark   December 11, 2001 at 3:34PM
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When I married my husband I had a son from a previous relationship. through the years we had a son and daughter of our own. Right from the start his parents embraced my son as their grandson. There was never any difference in gift value between my son and the children DH and I had together. I can't speak of gifts to our neices and nephews because I would never dream of asking what they got and comparing nor does it matter to me.

My feeling is that the older kids shouldn't mind at all that you are buying gifts for the younger ones and the price should be of no importance to them or to your new
SIL. Buy for each child what you feel inspired to buy. Nothing will make your "original" neices and nephew feel as if they're less important to you if you keep on loving them as you have been.

    Bookmark   December 11, 2001 at 9:11PM
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Ditto Jodi's very eloquent second paragraph. Unless the dollar value of the gifts is obviously and dramatically different (I'm talking about a large pile of expensive clothes or computer game system compared to 1 small toy - THAT obvious and different) then I think that you should buy what you feel inspired to for each child.

I think that as long as you do get something for the new stepchildren, you are doing a good thing to include them in the family. Continue to have your loving relationship with the other nieces and nephews and they will not feel slighted. If anyone (especially adults!) is sitting at a holiday gathering with a mental calculator tabulating who got what, then I think they are selfish and immature and it should be of no concern what their opinion is of your gift giving!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2001 at 11:15AM
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I would treat the newest members of the family that same as your other nieces and nephews. Especially if you are working on building a relationship with your new sister in law. What a wonderful thing it would be if you accepted these new children into the family and made them feel as special as the others.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2001 at 12:42PM
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