Grandma, Please Stop Spoiling Our Children

by Debt Destroyer on March 19, 2009

Grandparents are great aren’t they?

I don’t know about you, but I have very fond memories of my grandparents.  There’s the trips to the zoo, baseball games, & museums.  I remember having lots of sleepovers with great food and a never ending supply of cookies.  But above all I remember lots and lots of treats and toys.

I see that same pattern repeating itself for my children and their grandparents.  And that is wonderful, but…

Our house is full of the crap that the grandparents give their “precious little angles”.

For example, at the end of January my son turned two.  The previous Christmas, Santa Claus brought him 4 toy dinosaurs.  He loved them!  The grandparents must have caught wind of this so for his birthday he must have got every dinosaur the store had.


What’s the problem DD, that isn’t so bad?”

You’re right, there is nothing wrong with that.  But that wasn’t the only gifts he got from them.  He also got a train set, remote control cars, a sit & spin, some action figures, and a bunch of other stuff.

Putting aside the problem that most of his presents were not age appropriate (his older sister has decided that they are her toys), our main issue with our parent’s generosity is that it’s starting to feel like our dinning room has turned into a toy storage room.

I remember a couple of years ago my mother-in-law joking with me, telling me that she could help me fill up my basement and garage.  I’m starting to think she wasn’t joking (See the cackle throws you off. You think its a laugh, but in reality the cackle is mother-in-law for “sucka”).

Before I totally bemoan the act of grandparents spoiling their grandchildren rotten, let me say that I love the bags of clothes we get from their rummage sales exploits, and the occasional free babysitting. I’m just wondering if any Happy Rock readers out there has dealt with this before?

Is there a tactful way of looking a gifthorse in the mouth and ask it to lighten up ?

Dropping hints doesn’t seem to work.  Neither does saying, “Please don’t buy that.”

We’ve resigned to just smile and bear it.

We’ve tried holding a rummage sale before, but our parents ended up coming to it.  It was quite obvious that they didn’t like seeing all the stuff they’ve given to us over the years for sale.  Of course in true parent form, they don’t say anything, they just laid on the guilt later on.

So what happens is that we try not to open the things that we don’t think the kids will play with, then we regift.  That’s right I admit to regifting.  It is a wonderful way to get rid of unused or unwanted gifts! Heck, I think we still have a few wedding presents that we looking to unload.

Just last night we discovered that our daughter has 5 sets of “Go Fish” card games, all given to her by grandparents.  Luckily two of them haven’t been opened yet.  So look out parents of little girls…if you invite us to a B-Day celebration you know what you’ll be getting.

Do you have any 5’s…Go Fish

Until next time,


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristy @ Master Your Card March 20, 2009 at 12:29 am

I don’t have kids that my parents can spoil, but my sister says it’s extremely frustrating. Then again, she says the same thing to me because I’m apparently worse than the grandparents.

Personally, I think you just need to be honest with them. Let them know that what they’re buying is going to waste because your son has more toys than he can possible play with. Come up with a list of things you’d like them to help with, or even suggest they contribute to a 529 instead of toys.

If that doesn’t work, I say the regifting idea is fantastic, though I seriously hope my sister isn’t doing that with my niece and nephew! LOL.


celticbuffy March 20, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Man did I chuckle reading this. See, it’s your turn now! It won’t end until they are about 11 or 12 when what the kids want for presents is all big, expensive stuff. At one point we had half of our old garage at the lake filled with toys from grandma and grandpa! Many times did I state that we did not want the kids to receive any more toys but it always fell upon deaf ears and will continue to do so, I’m afraid. There is no hope in changing grandma’s shopping habits (and yes, their gifts to use were rarely age-appropriate). Grin and bear it and then see if any children’s consignment shops will take any of it. Or have a garage sale but don’t TELL her you are having one! (or bring it down and I’ll put it on my rummage sale in May.)


Val @ IT-Versicherung March 20, 2009 at 10:08 pm

I can relate with you! When I was a kid, my grandma spoiled me, too! she would bake me lotsa cookies and sew me dresses. Sometimes, I don’t like the clothes she made for me but I wore them anyway so that she don’t get upset. Can you imagine wearing a denim jacket with your name embroidered at the back? not just a small embroidery but a huge one…so huge that some kids who don’t me, know me already and they would call my name when I pass by…LOL

Anyway, I’m thankful that my parents are not spoiling my son with toys…but they always buy him some clothes.


Four Pillars March 21, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Very funny article – both our parents are very practical minded so they are just fine with contributing to an education fund instead of buying a million toys. However, it did take a bit of urging to get my mom to cut down.

I would suggest just getting rid of extra crap – sell it or just give it away.


Bloginsane March 23, 2009 at 5:54 am

it’s a kind of small bribe to receive more love from grandchildren. I remember i was always happy when my grandparents visit us, they never went with free hands.I still keep some toys they gave me, believe me it’s a good memory. But of course too much is too much.


Kate Kashman March 23, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Oh, I feel for you! Some days I feel like my house is bursting with the generosity of grandparents.

I hate to admit to being so wasteful, but I take advantage of their generosity to replace games that have lost half their pieces. Other than that, I often request art supplies (which will always be used).

Good luck. It will get better as the children start having more of their own ideas.


Karla (threadbndr) March 23, 2009 at 10:35 pm

What we did was make a list for each birthday/Christmas of maybe five toys and asked the grands to pick one from the list (different list for each set, obviously).

Worked well with my folks, not so good with W’s (my MIL would buy ALL of the ones on the list. LOL)

I hereby promise (as a grandma to be), I will listen to what my son and his wife tell me and only spoil the kids a LITTLE – lots of love and hugs and cookies, and not so much STUFF.


Slinky March 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Lol, my nephew has so many toys and clothes it’s ridiculous! I’ve opted right out of gift giving and he gets $100 put in his 529 plan for all occasions. As he gets older he may start getting trips to the zoo and stuff like that.


Don March 24, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I had this same problem with my kids. My wife and I asked that for every toy they gave them that they buy a book or something educational or ask us what we would like them to have.

They respected our wishes and instead of having a bunch of garbage they have decided to help pay for activities like violin and dance lessons which allows us to add to the college fund.


Debt Destroyer March 24, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for all the comments!

@ Kristy – We’ve tried the list thing to no avail. I WISH a 529 plan would be an option , but I have my doubts. But I better set one up in order to fully test this theory.

@ celticbuffy – I thought you’d like this one (we share the same mother-in-law).

@ Val – I remember those embroidered denim jackets :)

@ Four Pillars – Don’t worry, we try to get rid of as much of it as we can.

@ Bloginsane – I WISH they were small trinkets or toys, you wouldn’t here a peep if that was the case.

@ Kate – We’re tried the replacement thing ourselves…but somehow they smell a rat and got everything but what we requested.

@ Karla – My MIL sounds like your MIL except mine must be on MIL steroids! Not only does she get everything on a list, she makes up her own and gets everything on that. Then she finds a random list and gets that stuff too!!!

And while I’m making fun of my MIL, I better come clean and admit that my Mom is not much better.

@ Slinky – Wow $100! i wish I was your nephew :)


Slinky March 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

Well, no one else in the family is likely to help fund his schooling, so I wanted it to be enough to at least make a small dent. It’s also just the two times a year usually for Christmas and birthday. And since I’m not having children myself, and I’ll likely never have more than 2 or 3 nieces and nephews, I don’t think it’ll ever get really unaffordable.


Funny about Money March 25, 2009 at 7:01 pm

LOL! Be careful about expressing your wishes (which will be ignored, anyway). We made ourselves family pariahs when we asked that our son not be given guns or other tools of violence and mayhem.

My stepmother took to remarking, if my son should happen to admire a rose, “Oh, yes…he’s the one who’s fascinated with little things.” She also started buying his birthday and Christmas gifts at church rummage sales, where she would pick up gems like half-assembled model airplanes with parts missing.

All the ill will was for naught, too: take a plastic pistol away from a little boy and he’ll fashion his arsenal out of toilet rolls, broom handles, and his pointy little fingers. I think it’s in the genes! 😀


Jonathan@Friends&Money November 21, 2012 at 4:41 pm

I absolutely love the fact that you talk about regifting on your blog, especially when the grandparents might read it!!!! Very funny. I have to admit that I regift too :) Why waste presents, esepcially if you know for sure that you will never use them yourself.


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