Chances are, you have a good relationship with your mum or mum-in-law. She also plays an important part in your baby’s young life. You’re thankful for her love and support. If only you could feel the same way for the baby gifts from her.
The romper that she bought is far from cute; the electronic toy she chose plays irritating music. In fact, you wish she had not wasted her precious money on them.
You want to tell Grandma your thoughts. But this needs careful handling, tact and diplomacy, so that you don’t put a strain on the relationship.
First, think very carefully about what troubles you. After all, taste is very subjective, and it is highly unlikely that everything Grandma buys is as bad as you think.
Could it be that you assume any gift she brings must be awful? Or are you too rigid in your likes and dislikes, and that you could be more flexible?
Is there a chance you feel she buys “better” presents for her other grandchildren, and that you are jealous? Consider such possibilities, and how you can change before criticising Grandma’s gifts.
But if you are absolutely sure that it all comes down to her bad taste, there are still ways to improve the situation. To start with, make gentle recommendations for items that you especially want for your little one.
When you know gift time is approaching – say it’s your baby’s birthday or Christmas – draw up a list of “I would like” and show this to Grandma.
Better still, identify the shops that sell these items so she can easily buy them, or offer to help buy them and she can pay you back. Make this suggestion in a positive voice, pointing out that this will save her time, too.
By working actively with Grandma before she makes the purchase, you can, hopefully, avoid many of those gifts you consider to be in bad taste.
No matter how hard you try, however, some will get through your defensive shield. It’s her impulse buys – the ones she makes spontaneously – that you probably dread the most.
Whatever your opinion, say “thank you” with a smile when you receive the gift.
Nobody wants to feel that her present, bearing love and kindness, is not welcomed by the recipient. So, let Grandma see and hear clearly that you are pleased.
Then you can tactfully encourage her to change the gift.
For instance, you could tell Grandma that you already have this toy and ask if you could swop it for a different one. Or you could say that the romper is too small and you’d like to return it to the shop for something that will fit Baby.
Of course, Grandma will still be disappointed. But she won’t feel hurt or rejected, and your relationship with her remains intact.
If this doesn’t work, then you should still give the present to your baby.
So what if the sweater isn’t exactly to your liking, or if the book isn’t your favourite? Your cutie won’t come to any harm from using the item at least once, when both of you next visit Grandma.
But if it is so bad that you can’t bring yourself to dress your little one in it, you could just tell Grandma he wore it last week, and that it’s now in the laundry.
Put aside your own discomfort, and remember that you are keeping the family’s best interests in mind and building a stronger relationship.
Bear in mind at all times that Grandma simply wants to feel valued.