Gift-giving is meant to be an act of joy for the giver and the receiver. It’s an opportunity to show how much we love someone.
But gifts should not be demanded, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor MyRedditStuff3 felt imposed upon by her family when they didn’t appreciate how she handled giving gifts to her five nieces and nephews.
When more family members spoke up, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was in the wrong.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for giving my nieces and nephews gift certificates as presents?”
The OP sent gift certificates for her nieces and nephews.
I (33 [Female]) have 3 nephews and 2 nieces. They’re my sister’s sons and daughter and my brother’s son and daughter, and they’re 5 to 12 years old.”
“In my country, Halloween is not really a thing, but the kids love it, so I decided to send them each a gift certificate.”
“A few days prior, my parents had adopted a puppy. I sent a mountain of presents for the little guy, including toys, bowls, a bed, treats, and a puppy pen.”
The OP got a critical phone call.
“When my sister-in-law (SIL) saw that I had sent gift certificates for the kids, she called me.”
“She said it was a sweet gesture but it seemed ‘a bit cold’ that I always give the children gift certificates instead of actual presents.”
“And that’s actually true. I love those kids but I don’t really understand kids. I don’t really know what they like.”
“I explained this to my SIL.”
“She brought up the gifts I had sent for my parents’ new puppy and said that if I can select presents for a dog, surely I can think of something to give the children of the family.”
“She said I don’t because I’m just not interested in the kids.”
“I told her she was exaggerating and she hung up.”
The OP’s mother backed her sister-in-law (SIL) up.
“Later that day, my mom called me and told me she gets where SIL is coming from and that I should apologize and in the future give the kids ‘real’ presents.”
“I honestly don’t think I should have to apologize.”
“But I would like to know what Reddit thinks?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some said the OP did the right thing so the kids could do their own shopping.
“I genuinely have no clue what to buy my own kids half the time! They change their minds, trends come and go, and new things become popular at the drop of a hat.”
“I ask them what they want for the holidays. They’re happy. I’m happy.” – TitaniaT-Rex
“NTA we give kids gift certificates all the time because they love to do their own shopping.”
“It’s one thing to get a gift but getting the ability to shop for exactly what you want is so much fun too. I’m also not quite sure why you are giving gifts for Halloween but to each their own.” – Lahoura
“NTA at all. You’re actually allowing them autonomy to get what they want instead of making it stressful for all involved.”
“But I mean, I don’t think they’re too old for recorder flutes or vuvuzelas, right?” – llamabooks
“I second this so strongly. My mom would insist on getting the kids gifts.”
“I would try to keep it simple; like for the twins, do not get them Lego. You don’t know what they already have.”
“You don’t have the money for Lego so you’re going to try to get a knockoff brand.”
“Just don’t. Anything but that. She would do it anyway, and get p**sed when they were honest.”
“Thanks, Grandma, they’re cool and it’s too bad they don’t hold together or work well with Lego.”
“And that’s just one example. I have a kid who goes all-in on what he loves for several months, and then just as suddenly he’s fallen in love with something else entirely.”
“If you are still under the impression that he likes ancient Egypt, or dinosaurs, or pirates, and you haven’t seen him recently, you’re probably completely out of the loop.”
“Gift certificates and gift cards are awesome. My kids never, ever complained about getting them.”
“If I had to guess, I’d say the mom doesn’t want to do the legwork taking the child shopping and making sure they only spend what’s on the certificate.” – Lyan-cat
Others said that shopping for kids is hard, compared to a dog.
“If you give a dog a rope, he is going to be happy.”
“If you give a dog a ball, he is going to be happy.”
“If you give a dog a kong, he is going to be happy.”
“If you give a kid you don’t know too well a doll or a truck, well, chances are, they don’t even like trucks or dolls.”
“I don’t understand your SIL. As a parent, I can tell you it’s a nightmare to handle gifts when people are clueless. I don’t blame them.”
“That’s why when someone wants to give a gift to my kid, I usually help them pick, at least give them hints or inform them on what my kid likes.”
“Your SIL should be grateful that instead of buying a generic toy her kid will play with for 5 minutes before getting bored, they’ll be able to pick something they actually like. Yes, it’s cold, but what is important is that the kids are happy.”
“NTA” – MaybeAWalrus
“When the kids in my family were younger we would message the parents and ask them what to get the kids in the $30 range.”
“They tried to give us generalized stuff and I finally had to be like, ‘We don’t have kids, I have no idea what you are talking about, please just tell us a specific thing that you yourself would have gotten the kid.'”
“They did and the kids always got something they wanted. Now that they are older they get gift cards and money.”
“Kids have so much stuff they want for birthdays and holidays, parents usually can’t get it all so name off specific things in the person’s price range.” – psychosilly
“I agree. It’s not hard to buy things for a dog, they are dogs, they wont be fuzzy about getting the wrong color bone or something. It’s a really odd comparison for the SIL to make.” – chonkosaurusrexx
“Ugh, NTA. Giving for the pup and not the kids isn’t cold.”
“Kids’ tastes can change weekly depending on their age and most get stuff throughout the year so you’d have to have an up-to-date inventory so you don’t duplicate.”
“A puppy is a *puppy* with nearly universal likes so it’s a no-brainer.”
“The kids were probably thrilled to be able to choose their own stuff anyway.”
“I have 9 nieces and nephews and did the whole gift-buying routine and it’s exhausting. It’s also really disappointing for them when I got it wrong by duplicating or getting something they wanted LAST week.”
“As they got older ‘my’ kids just wanted cash anyway. Geez, especially for an optional holiday like Halloween, not like a birthday or something.”
“That was purely extra and a sweet gesture on your part that your SIL managed to muck up.” – ohsogreen
The OP’s sister-in-law may have felt the OP was being “cold” by giving her nieces and nephews gift cards, but the subReddit disagreed.
Shopping for children is significantly different and more complicated than shopping for dogs, and with constantly changing interests with maturity and age, sometimes giving kids the opportunity to shop for themselves is the best way to go.