Family Pressure

kittiemomNovember 18, 2012

My husband's brother & his wife have two small sons, ages 2 & 3. They are talking about having another. My MIL has told me that they are tight financially despite both having good jobs. They don't pay for daycare because my MIL babysits the kids during the day. They have a new vehicle purchased by the wife's parents. This brother is the youngest of three; my DH is the oldest. DH & I have no kids, nor does the middle brother & his wife. When we are with the younger brother, he makes a lot of comments to the kids like, "Tell uncle you want an iPad". Or he'll tell them, "Uncle's going to buy you a laptop". Sometimes we've brought gifts & he's made comments like, "They didn't need that, they need a computer." Last night he mentioned that the middle brother needs to buy furniture for the kids as well as making the laptop comment to us again. He doesn't say them in a joking way. Because BIL is the baby, he's always seemed to expect that the rest of the family buy things for him and/or his family. His wife never makes comments like this. DH's dad sometimes makes similar comments. I'm uncomfortable with these comments. I guess one reason is that no one in my family would say anything like this to their brothers or sisters, so I'm not used to it. I also feel like DH & I are being pressured to buy things for the kids. DH is thrilled to finally have nephews & I understand this. My only nephew is nearly 30, so I experienced this when I was much younger. So far, due to their young ages, DH & I have avoided any conflict about this. I want to buy them gifts, but don't like feeling pressured to buy them expensive items simply because the parents are having problems managing their money. Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

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That's absolutely unaccpetable. And the blackmail will NEVER stop until you and your husband decide to put your feet down.

First of all a 2 $ 3 year old don't NEED a computer. I'm guessing Daddy wants one to plaly with.

Have we been in a similar situation? Not exactly this one--with someone ordering expensive gifts, but yes, we've been there. DH's younger sister always had money troubles, her parents were always picking up the slack (giving them cars, buying them appliances, paying for drs, paying overdue bills). If any of the RESPONSIBLE siblings said anything about the situation, we were the ones who were wrong and who got the silent treatment for months. Eventually--well a lot of you know our story. SIL blackmailed the inlaws into changing their will, leaving her their POA, executrix and sole heir--cuting out 3 other siblings. She put her father under so much stress, he ended up having heart issues that he never recovered from, MIL--in the outlaw's care--was no longer taken to the dr. or given her meds. SIL depleted the inheritance by a quarter of a million $$$ in about 6 months -- even though MIL was being 'taken care of' in her own home (no mortgage, no medical professionals to pay).

In the end, we had to get a lawyer and forensic accountant. We had to file to have a judge appoint a guardian for MIL's finances to stop the hemmoraging. It ended up costing us around $20,000 of our own money. The stolen money was never paid back. The family is destroyed. If only we'd realized earlier how bad things like this can get? We wouldn't have allowed ourselves to have been as victimized as we were.

There were plenty of signs along the way--stealing, finagling, lying, demanding.

And as always in these situations--the parents sided with the deadbeat child, to the detriment of those who were being responsible.

I greatly fear for you and your husband in this situation. It has all the earmarks (if not the specifics) of what we went through. If you want advice from someone who's been there? Cut your losses now. I don't mean cut the family off, necessarily. But it's definitely time to sit down with the BIL and tell him that gifts are NOT ordered merchandise. That from now on, you'll be giving the children what a) you can afford and b) what you think would be nice for them. And you are NOT ever going to be replacing the role of parent and buying the (expensive) things that are a parent's responsibility--ex. I-pads, computers, cars, etc. If you don't do it now, be prepared for the situation to only get worse. I do recognize this BIL--he's my SIL's clone. And I feel so very sorry for you--it's a situation that you're not going to win, no matter what you decide. Either you cave and spend more and more of your budget on these kids, or you're going to end up losing that side of the family. What you have to decide is which alternative is more palatable to you. As I said, if I knew then..... we'd not have let ourselves be so damaged by this person. Good luck to you

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 12:38PM
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Sad to say but Azzalea has painted quite a vivid picture. I've seen something happen along those lines too. Unfortunately these things tend to escalate. DH and I always saved, we'd forgo vacations to make sure we had savings, insurance and a college fund for the kids. My DH's sister and her husband spent a good bit on vacations and entertaining and when money got tight we were expected to help them out. It was a very difficult situation.

Would it help if the 2 brothers had a conversation with their parents about this? It won't be easy but it's probably better to try something now before this really gets out of hand. There's no guarantee that one conversation will solve the problem but at the least the parents need to learn how their 2 sons feel.

The harder part will be putting your foot down with the younger brother but I think it has to happen. He'll probably react like a typical spoiled child and never understand your point of view. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:26PM
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Azzalea said .......First of all a 2 & 3 year old don't NEED a computer. I'm guessing Daddy wants one to play with.

And I so agree with it...

I wouldn't get into any long drawn out conversations but
the next time he mentions something like that even if it is in front of family, I think you or better yet your husband should mention that the kids are way too young for that kind of gift..and that since part of the joy of giving is being able to select the gift, you would prefer to make your own gift selections for his kids.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:29PM
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How about making a gift budget? Say your DH and the other brother tell the youngest brother that your budget will be X for Christmas and Y for birthdays. Say, for example, $50 for each child for Christmas presents and $25 each for birthdays. And make the same budgets for the adults you buy for, make it most like $25 each for Christmas presents. Adults don't need a lot of Christmas presents. Tell your in-laws, and then stick to your budgets.

Don't even get into whether kids need computers or new furniture or not. Asking for things is unacceptable.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:06PM
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I would brush the kids off.
I had(they are not in contact anymore) 3 nephews and a niece who would outright admit that, when they wanted something that cost more than $1, they would admit that a parent told them to ask Aunt Monica.
I gave in, also paid for school tuitions. Just wait for that one.

If I had it to do over, I would have told them that "I can't". No explanation needed, especially to a very young child. "I love you, but I can't".

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:13PM
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My first thought was I'd just love to smack your BIL :-) His audacity is unbelieveable! I'd just buy 2-3 year old appropriate gifts for those sweet boys. Period! No explanation!

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Love is tough!! Just say NO, we are not going to purchase what you seem to demand. I would tell them like several suggested that you will picking out the gifts according the their age. Yes something like this can split a family, but only if the people allow it. I see way too much of this now in many families. Times have changed. We went thru that with my mom and brother. Sad to say, after Mom passes away, he ended up on the streets, because sister (me) said NO WAY. He made it but just barely and is living by himself in a hotel and I still say no.Other issues.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 2:19PM
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Yikes. Why is it that there always seems to be at least one of these in every family. Both my DH and I had a sibling like this. It's very frustrating. As for the little kids, do not feel a need to buy more than you want or can afford. A gift is a gift. No explanation needed.

As far as how to handle the BIL, I really think your husband needs to handle this - hopefully he can. He needs to tell the brother and it sounds like his father, that it is only the responsbility of the parents to buy the expensive stuff. His job is that of an uncle and you will spoil them as only an uncle can spoil them which I believe is with his time and doing things with them. These are much more important that any gifts.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 3:08PM
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My husband has a niece with two children out of state. The first few gifts we sent were on the expensive side and a big deal was made about thanking us. Then, one Christmas I decided to sent some age appropriate games and toys. That year we got a call thanking us, but she didn't remember what gifts came from us. During the gift opening frenzy she claimed she lost track of who gave what.
We don't see these kids and I decided that we are not going to be the realatives who splurge for all the holidays.
Being able to visit or see these kids are what makes memories, not an expensive gift in the mail.
Since your DH is excited about these kids, he should spend time with them, rather than buy things. As they get older, he can be the one to take thme to shows, concerts, museums etc. Again, memories are built on time together not material things.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 3:24PM
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For many years I was semi-extravagant (let's say generous) with gifts for my nephews & niece. Never - not once - did I get a thank your or even an acknowledgement. Not from the children or from their parents. I actually had to ask if the gifts were received (they live out of state so gifts were mailed).

It always bugged me (I fault the parents, not the kids). But I love those kids immensely and decided that I'd not spoil it for them (and for me) simply because their parents hadn't taught them manners. But finally, when the kids were late teens, I said "enough" - and stopped.

They've never mentioned not getting gifts, any more than they mentioned getting them.

Do what your own heart (combined with your husband's heart) tells you to do. In your case, my advice, should you choose to take it, is as others have said. Tell your BIL that he's being inappropriate and taking the fun out of it for everyone with his greed. You'll buy gifts for the children as you see fit and as you have fun doing so. He's the father who chose to have those kids (and another one???) - it's up to him and his wife to provide.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 3:49PM
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I'm not clear where your DH is with this scenario. Is he on the same page as you are? I hope he is, as that too can cause even more problems if he wants to cave to his youngest bro. (as might be his "tradition")?

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 4:44PM
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Seems to me like you are clear about your feelings ad your boundaries. Your issue, therefore, is not with your BIL but with yor husband. You two probably need to have a conversation.

You don't need our permission to feel the way you do. You feel used and resentful towards an entitled manchild - you have the right to feel that way.

Perhaps you can show love and support towards your nephews in a creative way. If BIL pitches a fit, well then....that is information.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 4:45PM
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Get on the same page with your DH.

You can't make anyone else do anything -- or stop doing it. If your MIL wants to babysit three kids, that's up to her. If the wife's parents want to give her a car, that's up to them too. What you do IS up to you. You choose what you want to give to anyone.

I'd probably respond to silly 'Gimmie' comments with a blank look, then walk away or change the subject.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 5:31PM
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Thanks everyone. It helps to know that I'm not being too sensitive about BIL's comments or just uncomfortable because this is so different from my own family. DH & I have discussed it some, but not a lot. He does know my feelings on the matter. So far, he's been fine with buying them relatively inexpensive age-appropriate toys. DH & I are aware that BIL makes less than DH (BIL is a state employee so his salary is public). BIL doesn't know DH's salary (to my knowledge; I am very private about financial matters), but he at least guesses knowing the company & DH's position that DH makes more. I think these comments make it worse because I think they make DH feel a little guilty. I feel that BIL is aware of that & that's the main reason that he does it. We've both basically ignored the comments so far, though I have come back with some "what makes you think we can afford that" responses. I guess people assume that when both you & DH have careers & you have no kids that you have plenty of extra money.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 8:20PM
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It seems that sometimes one has to divorce their relatives.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 8:31PM
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I see another issue here. I think that given the situation, perhaps you should also be looking at what those kids actually need and base some gift giving on that. Instead of just trinket toys that often get looked at once, then tossed, maybe they need shoes, clothes (yeah, I know how kids feel about that but coupled with a toy you like, it's still OK) and the like.

Another gift could be instructions on getting a library card and info on how you can use the computers there, the reading time, and more. If they can't afford a computer, the library is a great asset.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:33PM
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Well, so what if your DH's salary is higher than his brother's? I'm assuming they started from the same point- if anything your BIL has had more financial assistance than your DH. If your DH has made more progress than his brother because of the choices he made, that's the way the cookie crumbles. Certainly not your DH's fault, nor anything he should feel guilty about.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:36PM
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FlamingO in AR

Oh, I would take a different tack- I would just laugh and say "tell your Dad that there is an opening at the Comedy Club for a new comedian" and then I'd change the subject. Treat it like it's a joke and maybe the parents will realize that no one is going to take their hints seriously. Just because BIL isn't joking around doesn't mean that anyone has to take him seriously.

2 and 3 year olds don't need expensive gifts and wouldn't appreciate them anyway. I'd be spending $20 them, tops, for holidays or birthdays.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 10:59PM
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I have in-laws that pull stuff like this. I would get the kids what you want and within your budget.

I know not everyone agrees with buying things people need instead of want. When my kids were little, I liked it when they got practical gifts because it wasn't just more clutter sitting around. My sister bought my two boys matching Hawaiian style shirts in a frog print and they loved them. They were practical when we went out because they were matching and made the boys stand out when we were in public so we didn't lose anyone. I also liked the gifts of time. The kids loved feeling that they were special and got to do something with someone. It didn't have to be expensive. They loved picnic lunches at the park, trips to the zoo, baking cookies, or even some fun time with an ice cream cone and McDonald's Playland.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:46AM
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I wouldnt want to be in your shoes-anyways,since there are now 8 grandparents to the 2 grand kids in our extended families-I,myself opened a bank account for my grandson-it is in trust,anyone can deposit money if they choose-they also are entitled to seeing it,if they choose so they know that the $$ is only going "in" and not out-it is set up for when he reaches 25 or older-nothing sooner.He right now is only 7 yrs of age,and this Gramma puts in what I can,when I can-usually his bday and other special to him occasions-he "seems" to really enjoy it so far-the kid is $$ crazy and currently,it is the only bank account for him that he is aware of-When his bday rolls around,he also,always gets a little something from me as well-usually nothing more than a styrofoam airplane-which he loves as well.The others,well,the competition is on-more power to them-doesnt work that way in my world.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 2:16AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

One thing that my older siblings have learned about our youngest brother is that things would never change unless it came from us. The youngest has always been provided with everything he ever wanted (much to our horror) from our parents. Gee, what a shock that he turned into a man with no work ethic and no concept of living within HIS means....not our means.

So, we just stopped complying with the expensive requests for his son, hints for expensive things that they "needed", and money. The change had to come from us. It took awhile for him to get over his resentment, but he did.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:58AM
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Perhaps there is a family dynamic similar to that of my father's family. The eldest son was Mama's darling, but my father (second son) was THE financial success among the six siblings. Even his father was a total loss at supporting the family.

My father felt obliged to keep everyone afloat. I think he was trying to 'earn' love -- which never happened. It drove my mother wild to see their joint business profits go to support these adult weaklings. (There was no reason these sibs --and my grandfather -- could not have supported themselves with more effort.)

My parents divorced. This was not the ONLY reason, but it was a factor.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:26PM
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My dad's brother could never make ends meet and was always borrowing money from relatives and never repaying it. He had 4 kids and every Christmas my parents gave each child winter PJs and slippers.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:28PM
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Sally Brownlee

I think I would say something snarky sooner or "I'm the aunt I get to spoil them with what I want...your the dad, you provide for their needs. If they need a computer or furniture - YOU get it!"

As long as the children have love, food and are warm...they could keep their clothes in a box and a mattress on the floor. And no 2 or 3 yr old needs a computer.
Maybe then they'll start to think about another child...

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 1:33PM
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