in ,

Grandparent Called Out For Breaking Family Jewelry Tradition With Eldest Stepgrandchild

older person sorts through jewelry
BuckleyPics/Getty Images

A family heirloom is something of value handed down from one generation to another. Its value may be monetary or strictly sentimental.

Most often the heirloom is a personal item that can be used by the recipient like jewelry, a watch, fine china or silvery serving dishes.

Care is usually taken to keep the item within the family, so in-laws are often excluded from inheriting.

But what about stepchildren?

A grandparent dealing with the fallout due to their answer to this question turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Accomplished-Fox1638 asked:

“AITA for not giving the family heirloom to my stepgrandchild even though she is the oldest?”

The original poster explained:

“In the family we have two female heirlooms that are given to the kids. One of them went to my daughter and the other is supposed to go to the oldest granddaughter.”

“My daughter got the family necklace and the oldest granddaughter is supposed to get the family earrings.”

“Sally is biologically my granddaughter and she is 17. Jenny (18) is my stepgranddaughter who came into the family when she was 14.”

“I don’t have a relationship with her at all. She has her own side of the family and most holidays she choses to see her grandparents while my grandkids see me.”

“I have been promising the earrings to Sally since she was small.”

“Jenny just turned 18 and this is when I was supposed to gift the earrings to the oldest granddaughter in the family, but I didn’t. Instead, I got her a nice necklace.”

“This started a huge argument that I didn’t give her the earrings. I informed them that she may be the oldest, but Sally was my first granddaughter.”

“I have promised her for years and I am not breaking that promise. My daughter thinks I am huge jerk for this and has made it clear.”

The OP summed up their predicament.

“I didn’t give my oldest grandkid the family heirloom earrings. I could be a jerk for that.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) in this situation.

“NTA. Sally’s been your granddaughter for 17 years, Jenny for less than 4, so yeah, you’re right—Sally IS your first granddaughter.” ~ IgnoredTurtle

“Sally is, for lack of a better term, in the bloodline. Yes, Jenny may be family now, but the expectation for what happens to the heirlooms seems to be more about a bloodline, not a blended-family-line. That should help make the distinction for Ms. Daughter.” ~ Thingamajiggles

“NTA. My mother-in-law had several heirloom pieces. Her engagement ring in particular is the kind of ring one keeps in a safety deposit box.”

“Before she passed away, she was very clear—verbally, not in writing—that the ring was intended for the first born granddaughter and not for either of her son’s wives.”

“My sister-in-law and I have received a couple of pieces as gifts from our father-in-law, but the heirloom aspect of them makes it impossible to wear/enjoy them.”

“Our daughter ended up being the first and only female grandchild, so the ring will go to her some day. My MIL’s wishes have caused some tension in the family as my SIL has made some off-hand comments about this being a bit sexist—perhaps it is.”

“A couple of years ago my MIL’s only niece, who is the daughter of her younger sister, got engaged and MIL’s sister made a bit of a stink about the ring and even tried to convince my FIL to let her buy the ring for her daughter.”

“She wasn’t too pleased with the fact that at this point the ring belonged to a toddler who ‘has no use for it and for all we know may never end up getting married, blah, blah, blah’.”

“I want to ask my FIL to put something in writing about what happens to the ring and other jewelry he’s still holding on to when he passes so we can avoid all the nasty business of dealing with it without having it in the will.”

“I just don’t want to come off like I have an agenda. Whether or not these things go to my daughter isn’t really my concern, but the tension over the ring is a good indication there might be some drama and I would very much like to avoid all that.” ~ EmeraldEmesis

“You made a promise to Sally and are fulfilling it. Given that you have no relationship with the stepdaughter, why would you give her a precious family heirloom?”

“Also, you can give your belongings to whomever you wish. I am sorry you are going through this. Family problems can be painful.”

“To paraphrase: ‘You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. This includes family members. NTA.” ~ Admirable_Aide5558

“The 17-year-old has been told for 17 years that she will get the earrings, and the 18-year-old has been in the family for 4 years. Even if she was adopted, the promise does not suddenly change after 13 years due to an adoption.”

“OP bought her a gift of a nice necklace, so it’s not like OP said ‘tough luck, you don’t get anything’. It is still up to OP what to give to whom.”

“Some judgement has to be used when implementing a family tradition. For example, if the 17-year-old was an addict who OP couldn’t trust not to pawn the earrings, then OP would choose a different granddaughter.”

“In any tradition there are unspoken exceptions to the rule based on situations. I would believe that stepgranddaughter coming into the family 4 years ago would be one of those.”

“Maybe if stepgranddaughter had been in the family her entire life, it would be different.

“My youngest son knew his grandpa his whole life and his grandpa was technically his stepgrandpa, but to him and my father-in-law they were grandfather/grandson because my FIL held him from the moment he was born.”

“Situations require analysis. OP is NTA.” ~ betterthanur2

“Well… she could adopt me, and then I’d be the oldest granddaughter. Then you could give them to me. Never mind that nobody knows me.”

“Never mind that I’ve been in the family for all of five minutes. Just give them to me because I’m entitled and I want them.”

“Ridiculous, yes? NTA.” ~ StarTheVagician

“NTA. Ignoring everything else for a moment, Jenny may be the oldest, but Sally has been your granddaughter for the longest.”

“It’s hard enough to adapt to a new family without finding herself replaced by her stepsister for a family honor that she has been promised since she was a young child.” ~ Material-Profit5923

“NTA, and I don’t understand your daughter. Jenny doesn’t even see you as her grandparent and you two are practically strangers to each other.”

“Just because she might see her as her daughter now, doesn’t mean that after four years of not much contact that you and Jenny have a grandparent/grandchild relationship.” ~ opelan

“Well your daughter can f*ck right off. Let her give her heirloom to her precious little stepdaughter. No? Thought not.”

“If I were you I’d be having some serious words right now with her. Who cares if she cuts you off, your granddaughter is old enough to stay in touch herself.”

“I’m starting to become aware that it is a horrible, horrible idea to have a set succession of people to hand family heirlooms to. Stop doing that, people.”

“It’s a recipe for strife and bad feelings. Give the heirloom to the person closest to you. That may be a brother, cousin, niece, nephew, etc… Just not the same designation every damn time. No more of this ‘first ____’ bullsh*t.” ~ Ornery-Octopus

“NTA. If Jenny had been your stepgranddaughter since she was a baby, I’d say you were the a**hole, but Sally has been promised the heirloom since well before Jenny joined your family.”

“Nice of you to get Jenny a necklace. She can start her own tradition with that if she wants.” ~ Fit-Confusion-4595

“NTA. I’m assuming your daughter who said you’re a jerk is Jenny’s stepmom? Is she the same one who got the family necklace?”

“If she is, then tell her she is free to pass along the necklace to Jenny if she wants—because you couldn’t do anything to stop her from doing that anyway.”

“But the earrings have already been promised to Sally, end of story, and you’re not going to discuss it with her any further.” ~ StrangelyRational

“NTA. You nor your daughter have raised this child. As of 4 years ago, you didn’t even know this child. You are doing the right thing, your bio grandchild has been told it’s hers.”

“Ask your daughter if she splits up with her partner and remarries a man with a daughter older than Jenny, will she expect you to take it away and give it to that woman?”

“The ownership is not fluid. And your daughter will have to accept that.” ~ rebootsaresuchapain

At the end of the day, the current owner of the heirlooms can give them to whoever they want for whatever reason they want.

Others can be upset, but they still have no say.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.