Social Question

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

To the jelly parents, care to explain this behavior?

Asked by rpm_pseud0name (8208points) December 2nd, 2011

This behavior happens during any gift giving/exchanging holiday, birthdays, mothers/fathers day, etc. but Christmas is the worst.

Description of behavior in a sample scenario.

Me: So what would you like for Christmas?

Mom: Just a hug & a kiss.

Me: Something with a price tag.

Mom: I don’t need anything, don’t waste your money on me. So what would you like for Christmas?

Me: I dont’ want anything.

Mom: Jesus why do you have to be so damn difficult? Stop acting like that. You can’t think of anything, c’mon, what do you really want!? Here, look through this magazine & mark anything you like. Now!


I may have sprinkled hyperbole on that last bit, but you get the idea.

So, parents. Care to explain yourselves? Why can you request nothing for Christmas, yet when I do it, the gates of hell are busted wide open & I’m browbeaten into submission until I squeal out a gift idea? I have money. It’s not like buying her a potato ricer is going to break the bank. So what is it?

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19 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I don’t know. I don’t think that’s how I’ll react when they’re old enough to ask the question. I think any of us can say ‘no you don’t have to get me anything’ and I think we can tell the difference when that’s really meant (like when we’re really in a financial struggle) or just something people say. I think your mother really does mean you don’t have to get her anything but doesn’t see the irony of what she then tells you.

jaytkay's avatar

I have no idea if this applies to your situation, but I am throwing it out as a possible explanation for “inexplicable” behaviour.

When I was struggling financially, gifts were frustrating because I would have preferred the cash. But I would never ask for cash. And I would hate to appear ungrateful. And I would have loved a grocery store gift card. But I would never ask for a grocery store gift card. So I would be annoyed. Maybe even lash out (I hope I did not lash out).

There was a whole mix of unspoken emotional issues.

Blondesjon's avatar

As a proud parent of three I would like to suggest that perhaps you are just a shitty gift giver?

We always told our kids that the pictures we magneted to our fridge were some of the finest works of art we had ever seen. They weren’t.

Now when my 19 year old submits a selection I am a lot less forgiving of his technical and stylistic errors. Maybe your gifts are just shitty fridge pictures?

Ela's avatar

Maybe you should tell your mom you want a hug, a kiss and a get out of grounding free pass.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

Money isn’t an issue for either party. We are fortunate enough to be stable in that department.

@Blondesjon, I don’t want to brag, but my gifts are pretty good. And my parents let us (my brother & I) know if the gift should have been left at the storeā€¦ like the ice scream scooper that we have yet to use & has now become a joke within the family (brothers gift, not mine). I am not frivolous with the spending. I buy what I think they would really use, like the garlic press of last year. They just make it difficult to figure out what they would like.

@EnchantingEla. ‘Grounding pass’... I’m 26. :)

CWOTUS's avatar

Ah, gifts. The gift-giving season. Ho ho ho.

It’s funny, isn’t it? For such a supposedly ‘materialistic’ culture, we have some strange ideas about giving and getting gifts.

I’m often pretty generous with time and money, but I hate – abhor would not be an excessively strong word – buying gifts for people. Even for people I love, have always loved. I can’t do it. I bought my folks their first ever color television – a nice one, too. (Including their first ever television with remote control, and the biggest they had ever had.) I felt like I could have done better, but it was the best gift I ever purchased for them. I suspect that earlier gifts – maybe not refrigerator art, but along those lines – were better appreciated, at least by my mother.

And my folks got me nice things, too, and did nice things for me. I recall some shirts that my mom made for me when I was a teenager. Nicer style than most of the things I picked out for myself at stores, but just ‘not quite there’. You know – slightly puckered seams, sleeves that weren’t exactly the same length, button plackets that weren’t ruler-straight. So I never felt right about wearing them outside of the house. And I felt bad that I never wore them outside of the house, too!

It’s much easier now, being the parent of young adult children, one of whom is married with two kids. I know they need money more than anything, even though they’re not exactly “struggling”. But money is easy, and I know it’s appreciated. I still could never think of what to buy for them. I only wish that we also had more time together.

Blondesjon's avatar

@rpm_pseud0name . . . I’m gonna need a little more than that. How about you pretend I’m your parents and send me what you’re thinking of giving them? I’ll let you know if it’s banger or bummer.

Just PM me for shipping information.

you’re welcome

Ela's avatar

LOL sorry, I didn’t know. My kids are younger so I make a list of things I want/need that cost $5,10, 20 just for my kids to get me for my birthday and Christmas so I’m ready if they ask.

I’d say if an argument is going to ensue, simply don’t ask : )

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@Blondesjon, what a lovely gesture. So if I have the Bugatti Veyron delivered to your place, would you even go through the trouble of test driving it to make sure it goes from 0–180 in 14 seconds? That kind of busy work is a hassle, ya know? I don’t want my parents to deal with that mess.

Blondesjon's avatar

fill it with gas and we’ll see . . .

cockswain's avatar

Parents frequently don’t need much, nor can think of anything inexpensive that they’d like. At least that’s the case with me. I’ll tell you what I’d like but don’t get enough of: massages, blowjobs, a handyman to fix some stuff up (but at a good price, or it will irritate me), help with various jobs around the house, like raking, shoveling, building, digging, painting, organizing…that sort of thing.

Maybe that helps.

Coloma's avatar

Sounds a bit martyrish to me. The old double edged sword. If you don’t get her something then she’ll be hurt. Damed if you do, damned if you don’t. haha

blueiiznh's avatar

Maybe it’s just me, but if you don’t know what a person that is significant in your life wants/needs/would appreciate, maybe you are just not paying attention.

The best gifts are ones that are not on some silly list.

perspicacious's avatar

Just tell your mother to give you some money.

linguaphile's avatar

My son asked me what I wanted… he’s 20… and my answer was “nothing” because I’m at the point now in life where, if I really want something, I save up to buy it. And… I’m picky. I want THAT dish set, THAT shirt, etc. Anything he gave me would be greatly appreciated, but there isn’t anything I want bad enough and whatever he can afford, I can buy myself.

Then again, what I really, really want are not things. I want time, shared experiences, conversations, laughter, friendship, a feeling of cohesion, and for my kids to be happy, too. So….. I ask them what they want because I know they’ll be thrilled to rip open gift boxes/bags/papers and get things because they’re not yet to where they appreciate the more ambiguous gifts. They’re easy to please!

Why does your mom get in a tizzy? Maybe because she thought you were being snarky- she says no gifts, you say no gifts, she assumed you’re playing games? Or she’s like me—not wanting anything, but want to see happy kids? Either way—to get a precise answer, maybe ask her?

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@linguaphile Great point. I do notice that my mother is very picky about what she adds to her house. She recently remodeled the entire kitchen which is why I have been getting kitchen tools to replace the old. I have run out of kitchen tools to buy. I can see why she would be resistant to gifts. She is done filling the house with ‘stuff’. No little kids in the house anymore. The place needs to be functional, not cluttered.

I do like @cockswain‘s idea of offering to do things around the house. One time I went through the house when no one was home & fixed all the problems with doors. Oiled squeaky hinges. One door was scuffing the floor a bit. I took it off the hinges, got the hand planer & shaved off what was needed. Adjusted cupboard doors to prevent tight closings. They really appreciated that. I’ll look into similar projects for the winter. Thanks for the input.

linguaphile's avatar

@rpm_pseud0name You did that for them??! I’m impressed! I certainly wish more kids were like you!!
In addition to cockswain’s great idea, if she doesn’t want more stuff in the house, maybe give her giftcards for spa treatments, hair/nail appointments, a day at the botanical gardens (or what she likes) anything that gets her out of the house. I know I’d prefer those over a new and unnecessary pair of wooly slippers.

augustlan's avatar

I’d guess that @linguaphile is right on this one. Your parents are old enough (and well-off enough) that they really don’t need more ‘things’, but they still want to buy you things to make you happy. As a parent, I kind of feel like that’s part of my job, you know?

What I do with my own kids is keep a list of affordable things I’d like to have, but don’t buy for myself. Photo albums and stuff like that.

For your parents, I’d give services… either your own (like the odd jobs around the house
you’ve done in the past), or something like a nice dinner out, theater tickets (if they’re into that), hair salon services, a Netflix gift subscription, etc.

smilingheart1's avatar

Parents are givers, not so good at receiving.

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