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Grandparents’ approaches to gifting tend to fall under various ends of the spectrum: Your mom, for example, may be the type to seek out the quaintest of hard-bound copies of “Moby Dick” for your avid reader, while your mother-in-law might tend toward the extravagant — like, say, a seven-day all-expenses-paid Disney Cruise for the entire family.
“Grandparents can be a great blessing or a thorn in the side of many families, especially when a little financial competition gets underway during the holidays,” Ruth Nemzoff, author of “Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Adult Children,” tells Yahoo Parenting. So what’s a parent to do if one set of grandparents seems intent on one-upping the other? Behold five ways to (gently) rein in your parents and in-laws:
Root out why Grandma is in gift overdrive. Instead of getting upset about the piles of presents arriving at your house, try to understand where your parents or in-laws are coming from, says Debbie Pincus, a parent and marriage coach and creator of The Calm Parent. “Take a look at the fact that perhaps one set of grandparents may feel less included than the other,” she tells Yahoo Parenting. “If that’s the case, address this. See if you can come up with ways that they can feel more involved with your kids in the New Year.”
Support your mate. Make sure you check in with your spouse — and handle it — if your parents are the excessive gifters. “You don’t want to let this fester,” Pincus says. “You want to make both sets of grandparents to feel respected, honored, and wanted, but if their gift giving has become too over-the-top, it’s up to you to talk to your parents, not your spouse.”
Understand their intentions. It may seem unfamiliar to you if you weren’t raised this way, but your in-laws may just be accustomed to using gifts as a way to demonstrate their love, says Jessica Jessup, co-founder of Giftovus, a gift-idea website. “For some people, giving extravagant gifts is the way that makes them feel comfortable expressing their love,” she tells Yahoo Parenting.
Redefine gifting this year. It’s not too late to steer your parents (or in-laws) away from wrapped packages altogether. “Instead, urge them to offer your kids some sort of memorable experience,” Nemzoff suggests. “This can take the form of a day at a museum or, if they live far away, they can send your kids theater tickets. Afterwards, plan to have your kids Skype with their grandparents and tell them all about it.”
Lay down the law. If after all this, the grandparents still insist on sending gifts, urge both sets to keep gifts under $15. “There’s no end to the creativity they might show,” Jessup says. “Deep down, they may even appreciate the fact that you’ve set boundaries for them.”