inappropriate gifts for children

Two of my kiddos had their birthday party yesterday w/ DH’s family. One of the uncles got them ‘pooh-dough.’ I’ll leave to the imagination just what that is. Needless to say, it is disgusting. Last year, one of our kids got the Gooey Louie game where you pick his nose. Equally disgusting. At the earliest convenience that my children sock these things away and forget about them, I throw them in the garbage. I would not even hand these down to our local food bank.

So how do I handle this? If they hadn’t already opened them, I would return them and give my kids the cash to get a mommy-approved gift. At this point, I’m willing to give them each the money anyway. But I don’t want to have a discussion about it w/ them b/c they’re apt to repeat it to family. My biggest problem is addressing the topic w/ DH’s family. He does not support me and he thinks it’s rude to throw away gifts and that I’m just being uptight and need to loosen up. So do I just keep it to myself, don’t even tell the kids and just frankly give them the cash and a trip to the store? I’m extremely annoyed that I may have to do this dance for many years to come, but I’m horrible at handling these topics delicately with family to avoid the whole nonsense in the future.

For long term success you and your husband should probably come to an agreement about what constitutes appropriate toys.

How old are your kids? I think if they are five or older, you can probably explain that you have rules about appropriate toys and while you’re sure that Uncle meant well and thought it would be funny, such and such is not appropriate. When your kids are adults, they will probably be given lots of crud, and it’s healthy for them to learn that they can appreciate the gesture of a gift even if they don’t wish to keep it. (I have LOTS of personal experiences with people who think they are obligated to keep everything they’ve ever been given - after a while it’s not pretty.)

I hate to think of the waste of time and money (on the giver’s AND my parts) on such junk. DH’s extended family will even do little gag gifts for the adults at Christmas. I just don’t see the humor in it. As an example, one of the (great) aunts bought all the guys from our generation silly under (superman, spiderman, etc.). You know that’s going in the trash when they get home. I can’t help thinking what good could have been done with just that $50 for a family in need. Given that thoughtful gifts is one of my love languages that is rarely fulfilled, witnessing this sort of waste even stings a little.

Well, my .02 is that it should be your husband explaining the rule guidelines to his family, without indicating those rules come from you. He should be supporting you in this.

… but then, that’s how I handled these types of things and my wife chose to walk out on me, so what do I know…

DH and I had a small battle of the wills when we went Christmas shopping for our kiddos. He wanted to get them all toy nun-chucks to go w/ their TMNT stuff. I told him “You know in a matter of 10 min, someone is going to get hurt and then they’ll all have hurt feelings over getting a gift that just ends up being taken away.” I’m not willing to waste $50 on that PLUS taunt my children with something they don’t even get to keep. That’s just cruel. Insert eyeroll from DH.

I can understand that.

But you probably aren’t going to change their minds, and it’s not your responsibility. You can choose to be gracious and appreciate the gesture, even if it’s not to your taste, then return if you can, or donate, or trash.

I am personally of the opinion that it’s in poor taste to tell people what to buy you or your kids unless specifically invited to do so. But if they ask, you and your husband should be on the same page and he should be the one to tell his family what those are.

From this and other threads, you’ve got to work on communication with DH. Eye rolling is really juvenile and rude, and you shouldn’t tolerate it.

Have you thought about giving the family some ideas for their gifts? Maybe they really dont know what to get them so they resort to kookie things they think the kids will like. Maybe next year a couple weeks out from their birthdays, suggest to the family that they get them some age appropriate books you know, to “help” with their reading and comprehension abilities.

I actually sit there and write their wish list in their birthday invitations as I’m making them out. I am grateful when they give gift certs b/c it enables us to take the kids out to ice cream or a movie or bowling which might otherwise be a hardship for us. I was grateful when one of them got DS a suit for his birthday. Normally, their mentality is that if it isn’t a toy, it isn’t fun. But they KNOW how much my DS likes to dress up. He gets way more out of that suit than some toy that’s so precious, he sticks it in a drawer to keep it away from his brothers and never gets it out to play.

Given that DH will not breach the subject with his family privately, I will have to continue to pray on this. My instinct is to share about our little scuffle at the toy store to demonstrate how unfair it is to get the kids something that they will not be permitted to keep. Of course, mentioning it at all would be rude in DH’s opinion. He would prefer since I’M the one with the problem, that I make all the accommodations for my unfair standards.

Ahhh, i see said the blind man to the deaf man.

You and your Husband have the same problem,
He thinks, that not giving these sort of gifts will harm the children.
You think, that giving these sort of gifts will harm your children,
It’s a lose-lose situation and to stand off against each other
may harm your own relationship.

Take Hubby along to talk about this with your priest.
It might be the easiest way to get him onside.
If he looks at it as a spiritual issue for the children’s benefit
rather than a material issue for their benefit that could make all the difference.
A way of him seeing the bigger picture that is.
You already have many positives here.

Just look at the facts.

  1. all of you (Relatives included) Love the children… Win.
  2. all of you want to give to the children…Win.
  3. all of you want the children to be happy…Win.

You are all on the same page but for one thing
who decides what is appropriate for the children.
you both have to agree or it will always be a problem.
So both of you write lists and compare them.
then take the lists along with you to the priest.
one of you will feel a little ashamed of your list,
you need to be honest but very gentle with his family,
if he won’t talk to them, then you talk to the one amongst them
that has the most pull, great allies sent stronger messages.

as for the type of gifts, suggest stores (not gifts) to the relatives,
it might be a case of them only shopping in the big department stores,
which are full of commercially driven made in china rubbish.

I have used the tactic of telling someone that my child really loves
white ponies but that I can’t find any to give her for her gift and have
given up. I am guaranteed a white pony will appear on the day, along
with an exited relative with a joyful (boastful) hunting down a white pony story.
A bit sneaky but they tend to inquire about gift ideas from then on.

Hope it helps.

Mary Christ Mass
Pete. :christmastree1:

Insert eyeroll from me too. :rolleyes:

Boys will be boys, and boys who play TMNT will want nun-chucks. By all means have rules about how such toys are used (ie no hitting each other), but if you don’t intend to let them play with toy weapons such as this, why are you letting them play with toys/outfits/whatever from this franchise at all? It’s contradictory.

As for you uncle and family, I’d let it go. What is to be gained by setting rules around present giving? You’ll just offend family. Let them buy these tacky (and inexpensive) toys as a gesture, which is the key element of present giving anyway.

As for gag gifts like silly underwear, I think you need to lighten up and understand that some people find great humour in such things, and that sort of family fun together is money well spent. Or we could just all buy each other socks. Very practical…and very dull.

Our daughter is only one, so we can still intercept and donate anything she won’t use. But I wonder how that will play out when she gets older.I’vestopped enjoying gift giving all together because I am trying to declutter my life, not collect stuff people give me without considering if I’d appreciate it or not. I’ve asked for no gifts or gift cards when asked (sometimes I give specifics when asked), but when I still get something I don’t want, I graciously say thank you and find a home for the item outside my home.

My mom is very particular about what she receives as a gift and she doesn’t believe that it’s the thought that counts, so I hate gift giving with her. I agree that some of the gifts you named are dumb, but I’d give the giver the benefit of the doubt.

Do you have to open the gifts in front of the giver? Maybe you could avoid that and hence be able to intercept. I would definitely not keep anything you don’t want your kids to have, period. That’s your decision. But I wouldn’t try to make up for it by giving a replacement gift either. Kids can’t expect to always get something they like, or to always get something, period.

What do your kids think of the pooh gift? Could it be incorporated somehow into an appropriate use? Maybe in the yard next to a sign asking people not to let their pets poo in your yard?

Violent toys are their own issue, and you and DH should try to come to an understanding on that. I played with toy guns as a child, but never on the context of shooting them at another person, real or virtual. I joined the army as an adult, and now as a civilian, I’m against keeping a weapon in my home. I’m on the fence as to how to best handle this with DD.

And why would anyone throw away new underwear? If they fit and are comfortable… it’s underwear, not outerwear. That’s my 2¢. :slight_smile:

I don’t really know what the answer is and I was just having this discussion with others. Personally, I wouldn’t have too much problem with the gifts the OP mentioned, but I was discussing grandparents who by their grandchildren EXTREMELY inappropriate gifts and what to do about it. The examples we discussed were my coworker’s inlaws insistant struggle to insinuate live animals into her children’s lives. (Including a puppy for her son when her daughter is allergic to them.) Also, my sister’s inlaws attempting to one-up everyone else by buying my niece a bounce house. (Their home is on a very steep hill and there’s no place to put such a thing in the yard, but the grandma pointed out that with their vaulted ceiling, they could put it in the livingroom, if they just moved the furniture a little.) It’s my opinion that some gifts are literally harmful for children or completely impractical and must be taken away. Why would a grandparent buy a gift for a child that they knew would have to be taken away, other than to make the parents the “bad guy”? In my opinion, this is not genuine gift-giving, and parents are under no obligation to be gracious gift recievers. My coworker actually became cross with me because she is a grandma and even if the kids only get to play with the bounce house one time, she wants to be able to see the joy on their faces when they get to play with their extravagant gift. (Of course, she doesn’t have to see their upset when the toy is immediately taken away.) So what is the answer when a toy is REALLY inappropriate?

It does seem you’re on a different page than your DH’s family. My advice would be to simply go along with it in the case of the gag gifts. If you get silly gifts that can’t/won’t be used, simply wrap them up and regift them the following Christmas (there’s a toliet seat that made the rounds in my DH’s family for about 5 years before someone actually needed one and adopted it). You just don’t get to dictate what others spend their money on or how they celebrate the season, so it’s an exercise in frustration to think of how better the money could have been spent - though I really do understand, it use to frustrate me too!

Regarding inappropriate gifts for children - you’re going to have to get in agreement with DH about what is/isn’t going to be accepted (and “poo” anything would not be in my book, while the numchucks would be). Once there, then explain to the kids when they get an inappropriate gift that you’re sorry, the giver meant well, but you can’t have that in your house. Then return it, regift it, relocate it (perhaps to the Uncle’s abode), or recycle it. If it’s able to be returned, then great, they can use the money to buy something else. If it can’t be, then they get a lesson in disappointment, but in my experience, that rarely lasts very long since they usually just move onto their other gifts. In my experience, once past the very early years, most kids seem to realize “junk” is “junk” - and that sometimes people don’t give good presents. :shrug:

The gifts you describe are tacky perhaps, but not immoral in my opinion. Therefore this is not a battle I would take on with the level of intensity and energy that you seem to be approaching it with. I would probably not purchase my child a wad of pooh-dough, however just like children telling fart jokes, burping and giggling I think it is tacky and probably bad manners but not necessarily immoral. So I wouldn’t encourage it, but I wouldn’t go to war over it either.

It is easy to give your relatives a gift list that prohibits immoral things: no R-rated movies, no-immodest clothing, no CD’s with foul language but a toy with “boogers” (although gross) is not necessarily sinful, at least I don’t see it that way but that’s just me. True, it doesn’t encourage our youngsters to be the best they can be but it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal to me.

There is something more here though, because you are not just bothered by the gifts people give your children. You are bothered by the silly gifts adults give each other because you think they are wasted. How do you know that the gift didn’t wind up being donated, saved or given away? I am asking this because I am a person who loves to give silly trinkets as gag gifts, I love finding silly things and giving them as gifts, and I find it very interesting that someone not even involved would be bothered, I am sure you can’t help being bothered I just find it interesting that you are and wonder why.

Perhaps there is more to your family of in-laws under the surface that is bothering you JLCecilia that is deeper than just a few children’s gifts. I will hope and pray that you can see them through the eyes of Christ, and that He can help you find peace in your heart. God bless.

Hate to beat up on you, but I’m with your husband as well. Boys of a certain tender age, even many good boys, find all bodily excretions, be they from the nose or elsewhere, a source of unbridled delight. There should be boundaries, yes, but to impose a wholesale ban on such things, and to dispose of presents as a part of that ban, seems extreme to me.

After all, at some point this fascination will yield to different bodily fascinations on the part of those same boys. I would be teaching modesty at this point which is where the boundaries come in. A wholesale ban might suggest to the boys that shame is the proper response to their own feelings about these things, and that might carry over to where it should not when you are teaching them that their bodies are in God’s image.

Boys will be boys, sometimes even when they are adults.

^^ This is very good, and I agree 100%. The poo-dough (I’ve seen it, it’s about $4) and booger gifts are gross but not immoral. Same with the silly underwear- and why make the assumption they’re going in the trash? I would totally wear Superman undies and so would my DH! You say your primary love language is giving gifts, but for some people, these really are their ways of giving a thoughtful gift. Many people enjoy the silly gag gift more than a practical (but dull) item. One of the best gifts I ever received was a pair of “squirrel underpants”- teeny tiny underpants on a cardboard squirrel. Why? Who knows. It’s made the rounds of family members for years, it’s showed up on dolls, on Gumby, in wallets- I suppose that might be considered poor taste or wasteful, but it’s provided our extended family with a lot of joy. I say lighten up a little. You can take away the poo dough and explain that it’s not something appropriate for your family, you can accept the superhero underpants graciously and not wear them, but don’t make these things a moral issue or a cause for a family rift.

Some gifts just are inappropriate. My little daughters were told they were receiving gifts from Disney World. It turned out to be soap and a roll of toilet paper from the hotel. (They were well beyond the potty training phase.)

As a first principle, both parents need to be on the same page.

My humble suggestion is that you have a serious conversation with your husband (preferably in the evening with some solitude) and develop rules that both of you can adhere to for what gifts your children can receive, and the number of gifts you think appropriate.

Neither parent may be fully satisfied, but get on the same page and write it down.

Similarly, you should decide on how to to communicate those rules to those relatives, and develop a method for screening all gifts. Then don’t worry about who whines or how people view you; that is only noise.

When the children are older, the rules can be relaxed if you want. But there is no reason people and relatives should have open season on what gifts to give your young children. Especially in our irrational and decadent age.

My wife and I screen all gifts coming to our children. We have clearly communciated to friends and family that we screen, and tell them either no gifts at all, or no gifts of XYZ type.

As a result, my children receive thoughtful gifts, and silly ones, but nothing I find counterproductive to their healthy growth.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to throw out a gift if it doesn’t follow the rules. Your kids will understand if you communicate the rules clearly.

I am in agreement that the fascination will change. Which is why NOW is the time to teach the modesty and certain things are done in private. I find the whole poo-dough gift beyond ridiculous. How can one encourage a kid to play with that and then as he gets older expect the kid to understand there are certain things you don’t play with:rolleyes:

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