I know tons of moms facing this issue. Maybe you can give some insight on how to handle this for the holidays, and it will work for the kids' birthdays and such also.
My husband and I are trying to live simply. We don't buy electronic toys for our children, and we try to avoid plastic "crap," violent toys/movies, and all the princess stuff. Problem is, my family doesn't understand this. They continue to give toys that I have told them are inappropriate for our values. We have told them we don't do these kinds of toys, we have offered suggestions, but to now avail. I even have one that insists on giving my 5 year old makeup and high heels! What can I do to keep the peace, and not have to fill my home with this stuff?
Signed, The Peacekeeper
The toys are not the main issue here. Your main problem is that virtual badge you have pinned on your own chest, proclaiming yourself to be Deputy Keeper of the Peace for your extended family. I have said this before on this site; once you get married and have children, they are now your main family and your primary concern.
In this case there is a conflict between the values you wish to use within your own household and the values of your extended family. You have to remember that it is your house and they are your children, period. It is up to you and your husband and no one else to decide what is appropriate for them to own. Inform your family members that if they give inappropriate gifts to your children against your wishes, you will return the gifts to the giver. (Or you will throw them out, or you will put them in permanent storage in a basement closet, your choice.) Tell them that they now know the ground rules, so they will be responsible if your kids are disappointed about having to do without a gift after opening and seeing it.
And you have to follow through on your promise, with absolutely no exceptions, regardless of the giver.
You have to realize that they are the offending party. These are your children, and your family members are trying to impose their own will on how they should be raised. Stick to your values. Your family members may test you on it, and they may grumble or complain when you keep your promise, but this strategy will stop the problem.
If your family members raise huge waves over this, then that is a bad reflection on them, not you. It means they don't respect your rights to raise your own children as you see fit. Again, you are in the right here.
In other words, you have to stand up to your family members and to heck with the consequences. Stop worrying about keeping the peace. That desire is leading you to be manipulated by your family. They will learn rather quickly that you have developed a backbone on this matter and they will toe the line, because they will hate it even worse that they end up giving no gift at all to your children.
Here is another way to think about this. You have developed those values for a reason -- because you believe that violating them will prove harmful to your children in the long term. Until now you have been acting as if the feelings of your extended family members are more important than the well-being of your children. If you step back and look at it from this viewpoint, I bet you will agree that this may not be the best way to balance those priorities.
Unpin that imaginary badge and your problem will disappear.
All the best,
There have already been several amazing responses to this week's Question of the Week about domestic violence and young people. Take a moment to review the comments and leave one of your own.