As the parent of an infant, it can be awkward to navigate accepting gifts from family that you don’t actually like.
You appreciate the gesture of the relative to give something nice to your new child, but that’s not enough for you to embrace something you really don’t admire.
One Redditor was recently forced to navigate those waters, and it ended with some drama. She explained it all in a post to the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit.
The Original Poster (OP), known as Kate_ae on the site, made the ins and outs of the conflict pretty clear with her title for the post.
“AITA For giving away clothes my MIL has given my son because they’re too girly?”
She first outlined the dynamics of the key relationship.
“My infant son is my [mother-in-law’s (MIL)] only grandchild.”
“She delights in buying him things he does not need. Eg. coat hangers when she knows we have nowhere to hang his clothes, they’re all folded in drawers. She also loves to give him clothes.”
“The problem is, the clothes she gifts are all really girly.”
She rattled off some examples.
“Some of the clothes she has bought him include:”
- “A pink shirt with a crown and the words ‘beauty queen’ “
- “A pale pink onesie with ‘girl power’ spelled out in flowers”
- “A white onesie with ‘Nanna’s girl’ embroidered on in pink.”
- “A pink tutu.”
And then some counter-examples.
“The only things she has ever given him that aren’t pink were:”
- “A frilly romper with red and blue flowers which he hasn’t grown into yet.”
- “A frilly romper out of a (very cute) beehive fabric which I can’t use as it’s so badly made it’s unsafe (strangulation risk)”
- “A white and green onesie size newborn (after she had spoken to me about clothing sizes and I’d confirmed he was two sizes larger than newborn.”
OP did offer a caveat after sharing those complaints.
“Now, I’m not terrified of my son wearing pink.”
“He has plain pink clothes. He has clothes with pink apples on.”
“He has clothes with purple, pink and blue stripes. He has clothes with yellow love hearts.”
“He has a purple and grey cardigan.”
“But the clothes my MIL buys are something else. I always just say ‘thank you for the thought but he has plenty of clothes’ and if she asks for ideas I suggest ‘what about a toy or a book?’ “
“Mostly she just says anything we don’t need to pass onto a friend who can use it, which I do.”
But the issue came up directly at a recent gathering.
“Everything was fine until MIL asked over Easter why my son never wears anything she gives us…”
“…and I explained it’s all a little bit girly, but I have a friend who has a girl and we swap clothes (her girl is the first after a long line of boys and so she gets nothing very girly in her hand-me-downs).”
“MIL huffed that ‘she didn’t think people worried about that these days.’ Which I get.”
“I buy him dolls and trucks. 95% of my sons clothes are (what I consider) gender neutral.”
OP clarified the distinction.
“He’s a baby, he doesn’t need his shirt to state if he’s ‘nanna’s girl’ OR ‘nanna’s boy.’ “
“If, when he’s old enough to make a preference he wants more girly stuff then I wouldn’t ever tell him it was for girls.”
“But while he’s a baby with no preference, I don’t feel comfortable dressing him in stuff which says ‘nanna’s girl’ even just for a photo for nanna.”
OP closed with the age old question.
“My MIL says I’m being too fussy and it’s not fair she never gets to see him wear anything she’s given him and ‘giving away excess I don’t need’ isn’t the same as ‘giving away everything they give him’.”
“Am I the AH?”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most people agreed with OP.
Plenty laid into her mother-in-law.
“NTA She’s giving clothes that are clearly gendered, not giving clothes that break gender norms. She’s not a hero, she’s just weird.” — jacano5
“Oh I was ready to be so annoyed at you from the title but this is just bloody bizarre.”
“You are completely fair and open to different clothes, you’re not fussed by gender roles and you’re not depriving the kid of clothes he badly needs or anything. MIL on the other hand is pushing gender roles, the opposite ones no less, on a child.”
“Even if he later comes out as transgender as a teen or something, he doesn’t need it pushed on him as a baby! Very strange behaviour from MIL! Totally NTA” — Euffy
“NTA all the way. It’s very clear she wants to push a concept onto a boy before he’s old enough to know what’s happening.” — Frut_Jooos
“Get her a shirt that says Worlds best grandpa.” — College-Money
Others made some conclusions about the motivations behind her mother-in-law’s behavior.
“NTA. It’s obvious your MIL wanted a granddaughter. She doesn’t get to run that agenda on your son.” — CornPorridge
“NTA. It’s fine if the clothes are pink, you’re not even against that. It is not about the colours, it is about what is printed on them. Your MIL is misgendering your boy and that is an issue. Maybe you can explain it to her that the gendering by the prints and not by the colour is the problem. But I assume she won’t like that either.”
“Maybe she wanted a granddaughter so badly instead of a grandson? Does she have daughters her own? Because it seems as that might be the underlying issue. And that is a problem of hers, enforcing your boundaries to keep her from pushing something into your son won’t change that fact. It still is her problem.” — joywithoutjoy
“NTA. I think the gendering of kids clothes is ridiculous. Boys can wear pink, and skirts and have their nails painted.”
“But this seems like she actively wanted a granddaughter and the buying of these clothes is passive aggressive.” — BellaSantiago1975
So OP can rest assured she’s doing the right thing when she gives away the clothes each and every time.
But, for everyone’s sanity, we hope she can find a way to stop her mother-in-law from persisting with these kinds of gifts.