It is not uncommon for any man or woman to not always see eye-to-eye with their mother-in-law. It is a conflict that can go on for years. Someone lets a hostile comment slip out, an argument ensues, the two settle it over a drink, and everyone lives on. However, if the mother-in-law intends to make it more interesting by involving the grandchildren, that is where things can turn really sour, especially around the holidays or on a child's birthday.
There are more than enough stories to be found on Quora of parents whose mother-in-law gave their children a gift that sent them spiraling. These are some of the funniest, most embarrassing, and even distressing stories that fall under such a topic.
The Gift That Keeps On Stinking
“My ex-mother-in-law made it a point to buy my daughter heavily-scented perfumes knowing full well I was allergic to them. Despite providing lists of perfumes I was NOT allergic to that my daughter also loved AND requested, this practice continued up until my daughter went off on her grandmother for it. In public. It was a glorious humiliation.
It was one thing to consistently do things to try to harm me, but to be so intent on harming me that she did not even consider her own grandchild’s feelings about it was just beyond vile.
My ex-mother-in-law demanded that I make my daughter apologize for humiliating her. I rewarded my daughter, instead. Sorry (not sorry), but I won’t teach my children how to swallow abuse and not defend themselves.”
Grandma’s Dolls Were Total Nightmare Fuel
“My ex-mother-in-law never paid any attention to my kids, but, she did buy them something for their birthdays and for Christmas. It would mostly be things that had no thought put into them. She insisted on buying my younger daughter a doll for at least one of those occasions every year, even though I had repeatedly explained to her that she NEVER plays with dolls, nor even looks at them.
The last doll she bought her was this hideous looking thing that she found cute. It had a really strange mouth, which made its little face one of the ugliest dolls I ever saw. I told her this, but she insisted it was cute.
I ended up throwing it away after about a week. I seriously would have never offered another child a doll that ugly. To this day, I think she bought dolls because it was easy and ‘every’ girl plays with dolls.
Before anyone complains about how ungrateful I am, let me tell you this: the woman is a snake in the grass. A two-faced one.”
The Mother Of All Mothers-In-Law
“It was more of how my mother-in-law treated my three kids differently that bothered me. That was reflected in her gifts to them.
I have three kids: two boys and a girl in the middle. My mother-in-law is a sour, self-absorbed person who cares about no one but herself and her own three children. She is wealthy (family money) and has never worked a day in her life. She also has two boys and a girl. She favors the middle son and younger daughter, and takes every opportunity to belittle my husband, the oldest.
It has been like this his entire life. She especially spoiled her daughter, who grew up to be exactly like her mother. My husband and his brother both are wonderful, hard-working people who are well-liked and respected in their communities and job fields. My husband has had to fend for himself his entire life, had to work several jobs to get through college, and all that. You would never guess that his mother was wealthy.
When I came into the picture, I was his first girlfriend. His brother and sister had never had a partner either, so I was pretty much the first to ‘enter’ the family. I was met with hostility, of course. When my husband introduced me to his mother, she stared at me for a moment before turning to my husband.
‘Why do you bother?’ she asked him. ‘She’s a college freshman. She’s going to lose interest in you and leave you for the first thin, good-looking guy that comes along.’
We’ve been together 14 years now and I love my husband, big belly and all.
It also didn’t help that I am half-black and come from a lower class family. My boys have my coloring: dark hair, dark eyes, olive skin. My daughter is blonde, fair-skinned, and blue-eyed. She favors my daughter ENORMOUSLY.
She gives my daughter lavish, age-inappropriate gifts, such as a huge, fancy dollhouse that was more suited for an 8-year-old than a 2-year-old.That dollhouse was destroyed in six months because a 2-year-old, even a gentle one like my daughter, was not going to understand the limits of fragile items. Not to mention, we live in a small house and do not have the space for big, fancy toys.
She often ‘forgets’ to give them gifts. When she does remember, it is usually used clothes (which we don’t mind because we get thrift store clothes for the kids already, but it just goes to show the difference in gifts for the boys and my daughter), used toys or cheap, already-broken toys.
My oldest son, who is 5 years old, is a sweet, gentle kid who loves cars, animals, dolls, dollhouses, pink, purple, and green. My mother-in-law takes every opportunity to try and ‘make him into a real boy.’ He overheard her say this once and was upset because he thought he was a ‘real boy’ already and didn’t understand why Nana said he wasn’t.
He is also old enough to notice the discrepancy in the gifts Nana gives him and our youngest son and the gifts she gives our daughter. It hurts his feelings. We have started to hide and check Nana’s gifts for our daughter so we can get gifts for the boys that are as good as what our daughter gets.
I hate this. I’m perfectly fine with cutting the witch out of our lives because there is nothing that benefits us in continuing this. But, my husband doesn’t want to. A small part of him believes and hopes that she will have a change of heart.
Not to mention, in the 14 years my husband and I have been together, she has never once remembered my birthday. At Christmas, she will give my husband a gift and say it is for both of us when it’s clearly for him or clearly used to make a jab at me. Once, she gave my husband a dirty, used handheld vacuum for Christmas and said that it was so he could try and help me keep the house clean.
Last year, she gave ME a gift. It was only because my brother-in-law had his first serious girlfriend and she was spending Christmas with us. My mother-in-law likes her. She is thin, beautiful, and comes from a wealthy family. Don’t get me wrong, I love my brother-in-law’s girlfriend. It’s just how my mother-in-law sees things. She got her a gift, a really nice, very expensive cashmere shawl.
She knew my brother-in-law would have chewed her out if she didn’t get me a gift too, so she got me one. I opened it, and it was a stack of dirty old magazines. Not ‘dirty’ as in nudes, but dirty as in she pulled it out of the garbage bin. They had food and liquid stains all over them and subscription names and addresses were all different.
I burst out in uncontrollable laughter. This was creative and took her a lot of EFFORT. She had collected magazines that were all related to how to decorate houses, how to design and stage luxury homes, how to keep homes clean, etc. I just feel so, so bad for my husband because the lonely, abused little boy he once still clings to hope that his mother loves him. I have learned to turn my anger toward my mother-in-law into pity. We have a wonderful, happy family and she misses out on this.
She’s dying of cancer. While her children do their ‘duty’ for her as her kids, they only do the minimum. My husband does not mourn or fear her passing like he did when his father died. That’s sad.”
Silent Wrath Of The Stepmother
“My grandmother-in-law is a wonderful person. However, she once gave my step kids a gift I cannot forgive her for.
My three stepsons live with their father and I full-time and see their mother every other weekend. My grandmother-in-law printed out and framed pictures of their mother and father (my now husband) on their wedding day. Cutting the cake together. Hugging each other. Posing together. Dancing together. Framed. To display in MY house. For ME to see every time I tuck in my kids.
I do more for them than their mother ever has besides push them out of my body, so I do consider them ‘mine.’
It makes me so mad every time I have to see her ugly face hanging on MY husband, in MY home! If these horrible pictures were ever to disappear, you know they would have my head. I am to silently see them day in and day out and not say a word of complaint.”
The Selective Cheapskate
“We were broke and my mother-in-law promised my 3-1/2-year-old daughter a red velvet dress. It was $16 or so. She PROMISED. We had seen it in the store and my mother-in-law said, ‘Don’t worry. I’ll get it.’
On Christmas morning, my daughter opened the box from her grandma and it was… a cheap, burgundy velour pantsuit. It was scratchy, itchy, the wrong size, and a real piece of garbage. My daughter started to cry.
‘It’s not red. It’s not velvet. It’s not a DRESS!’ I told my mother-in-law.
‘Oh, I didn’t think she’d be able to tell the difference,’ she replied. ‘This was only $11.’
Really, witch? She is your first grandchild and you can’t buy the thing she wants? You bought your grandson a $40 suit and a carton of assorted toys. For your granddaughter, who has NO OTHER GRANDPARENTS, you can’t spend the extra $5 after you PROMISED?
The list goes on.”
She Would Not Take No For An Answer
“My eldest was seven when my former mother-in-law called me up around September, asking if she could buy my son a Nintendo gaming console. I told her NO, in no uncertain terms. NO, he did not need one of those things around. But, he loved books so she could send him books.
Christmas arrived and so did a Nintendo gaming system. She called me on the phone and informed me that her grandson deserved to have one and she was not going to accept me saying no.
That was when I lost my son. The only way to pull him out of the game was to hide the controller. Then, his father would go buy another one. Then, I’d have to hide that one. When my ex moved out and I went through everything we owned, I found that I had half a dozen Nintendo controllers.
My son still hates me.”
How To Strike Fear Into The Heart Of Your Mother-In-Law
“My mother-in-law knew very well that we did not want our boys to have toy weapons of any kind in our home. My husband used to leave his military stuff at the base so we never had to worry about the boys getting into his stuff.
Every year for birthdays or Christmas, my mother-in-law would buy the boys some type of weapons toys or games. I would put them in the trash while she watched. She even bought the boys a BB shooter when they were around 8 or 10.
Then, it was time to go crazy on her.
I took it to her place and politely started using it. When she realized I had no idea what I was doing or how to use it, she ran into her room and locked the door and called my husband to come ‘talk some sense into me.’ I think she got the message that day because I scared the heck out of her.
You like bringing weapons into other’s home? Let’s see how you like having them in your home!!“
Only The Best For Grandma’s Favorites
“Earlier this year, my mother-in-law brought gifts for her grandkids for some obscure holiday. She happily pulled out gifts for my 10-year-old niece and 7-year-old nephew (chocolates and toys). My 10-year-old daughter was given a small set of doll accessories.
For my 12-year-old son, my mother-in-law pulled out an empty, dirty, used Star Wars-themed popcorn box from the movie theater and a small Star Wars-themed box of Kleenex. To his credit, my son did his best to hide his disappointment. He thanked his grandmother, but it was a difficult ride home to be sure.
My mother-in-law isn’t that old, by the way. She’s not even yet 65 years old. I cannot even make an excuse for her. She does the same thing with my sister-in-law and my husband. She will shower my sister-in-law with expensive concert tickets and puppy grams, despite being on a very tight fixed income.
Meanwhile, she will give my husband a pair of mismatched socks covered in dog hair that are two sizes too small for his birthday (when she remembers).
We really have not done anything but support both of them when my sister-in-law’s marriage fell apart (thanks to her infidelity) and my father-in-law passed away more than five years ago, we saved my mother-in-law’s house, worked on her house and yard, cooked dinners, etc.
After six to nine months of this with no thanks from her, we realized she expected it from us while going out to ‘play’ and have fun with my sister-in-law. We slowly scaled back our efforts.
When it comes to her grandkids, she feels she needs to spoil my niece and nephew.
That’s what grandmas do, but I’ve never seen someone do it in such an unbalanced fashion. My kids noticed a few years ago. There would usually be a lot of tears on the way home from her house.
One time, my daughter gently asked her why she would give her other grandkids unlimited candy and toys, including more than five American Girl dolls, while not doing it for her and her brother.
She replied, ‘You have a daddy. They don’t.’
It’s a terrible reasoning to give a child, especially when my former brother-in-law has partial custody of his kids. We had a huge blow-up not long after that conversation, for a variety of reasons. The relationship between our family, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law has never really recovered.
I suppose we should be happy that she at least knew my son loves Star Wars. It was also a good way to begin teaching our kids that life isn’t fair, forgiveness isn’t easy, and sometimes people confuse material things with love.”
“I was widely derided by my mother-in-law for not allowing my young daughters to play with Bratz dolls. She was not so transparent as to give the dolls to my girls directly, but she did encourage a friend of hers to do so.
When my girls opened the gifts, my mother-in-law and her friend locked eyes with me with the most evil smirks on their faces, hoping I would react negatively. Instead I thanked her friend warmly for the gifts, as did my girls.
The next day we took them to the toy store and exchanged them for dolls that did not so closely resemble adult film actresses.”
My Daughter, The Tomboy
“I have three kids: two boys and a girl. For context, we try to provide a short list of things the kids want differently for each set of grandparents and have since the kids got the same thing one year from all of them for Christmas.
My daughter is my middle child and only girl. A few years ago, she wanted some drones (like her brothers), fishing rods (both my in-laws are huge fishermen), and swim stuff. She was a jock and was into competitive swimming and soccer at the time. She hated pink and anything overtly feminine. She is definitely a tomboy. I love her the way she is.
My mother-in-law got her all kinds of clothes, pink stuff, and dolls. This was nothing she wanted at 9 years old. Her brothers got all sort of cool drones, fishing rods, and stuff, which she had asked for directly.
She was so upset. My heart broke for her. Her brothers had cool science experiments, electronics while she got clothes, dolls, and lots of pink. I also looked over to see that my oldest niece got cookbooks and clothes and my nephew got some cool fishing gear. Again, that was what my daughter wanted.
She was heartbroken and mine was for her. I really wanted to say something to my mother-in-law, but it seemed in keeping with what SHE thought my daughter would want solely based on gender stereotypes. I debated on if I should say something to my mother-in-law. Instead, I gave my kid a fishing rod and electronics a bit later, just because. I told my daughter I would make it right for her. I tried to explain that her grandmother thought she was getting gifts for her that she would like.
Honestly, I am glad I did not say something. That turned out to be our last Christmas with my mother-in-law. She passed away on December 23rd of the following year extremely unexpectedly. It didn’t matter much then.
I was very disappointed that my mother-in-law was so tied to gender stereotypes that she missed seeing the awesome granddaughter she had; how smart, sweet, and lovely she is; and that girls CAN like technology. She thought only my daughter was the jock who needed to be more feminine and not how smart she is and how she wanted things that were interesting as well. She told me that my son was the intellectual, my daughter was my jock, and my youngest was the class clown.
Yes, that is a part of my kids, but far from the only parts of who they are.
Also, my kids needed to know how to deal with disappointment. My daughter held it together until she got to her bed. Then she sobbed. I was proud of her not making a scene and giving me the chance to make it right. I did not think it was right, but we could handle it without causing a scene. Maybe it was not good parenting, but it is what I felt was right and just.”
She Could Not Seem To Get The Hint
“My mother-in-law, who is no longer involved for separate reasons, always went to auctions and found the most awful looking ‘toys’ to give my children for their birthdays and Christmas. These would include old, creepy dolls that a 1 and 2-year-old cannot play with.
My oldest had a Trolls themed birthday party and my mother-in-law happened to find this super old and creepy looking ‘troll’ doll. I had never seen a troll doll that looked like this thing and I’m not even sure it was a troll doll. She kept buying them jelly sandals that were known to have lead in them. We had told her the girls would not be wearing them. She continued to buy the same sandals.
We throw them out every time.”
This Book Was Not Meant For Young Eyes
“When my daughters were just entering puberty at 9 and 11 years old, my mother-in-law said she wanted to give them a book on ‘female development,’ which I was totally supportive of. It was after they returned from a visit with her when I discovered the book was actually a collegiate level text book on women’s development. It went way more in depth than I felt was developmentally appropriate for their ages.
Because it was from his mother, my husband did not want to admit it was a poor choice or confront her about it. I had never had any problems answering questions from my kids, but I don’t think young children need to know about adult toys, group lovemaking, rear end entry, fetishes, and such.”
She Just Wants Her Children’s World To Be Less ‘Virtual’
“Christmas has always been a huge deal for my mother-in-law. By that, I mean her focus has always been on the gifts. It is to the point at which the excess makes me uncomfortable. It is just not how I was raised, but it’s her deal so I let her be.
Last year, my husband and I announced we would be moving four hours away for a job opportunity. Four hours is a big deal for his family because they all live within 10 minutes of each other. His grandparents, his parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, everyone. Without asking either my husband or myself, she bought my 7 and 8-year-old an Xbox.
We don’t normally limit TV or electronics a ton, but this was totally different.
I felt they were way too young to play video games and the games she did buy them (Farming Simulator) were something they had previously used their existing toys (tractors, cows, barns) and imaginations to play.
The reason she bought it: ‘Oh, they won’t have any friends when they move. This will give them something to do.’
The Xbox only caused more fights between me and my kids and between them. I hate it.”
She Was Punished For Her Mother’s “Transgressions”
“I can remember gifts I received during my childhood that really bothered my mom. To explain the reasoning for my gifts, I need to explain something first.
My paternal grandmother does not like my mother much. My parents have been happily married for 29 years, yet my grandmother still is not very nice to her. We honestly don’t even know why. She dotes on my dad and my mom has never once been rude or even stood up for herself when grandma is disrespectful to her.
When I was young, I was often the one left out at Christmas from that side of the family, probably for this reason. My cousins would get hundreds of dollars worth of toys that they would sometimes complain about and, typically, I got nothing. The few times I did, though, they were usually IOU’s from my dad’s mom. These were sometimes paired with the type of lip gloss that costs less than a dollar. I remember that bugged my mom a lot.
What bothered her the most, though, was my 12th birthday when my dad’s mom gave me Dora the Explorer stamps. It was not so much the fact that the gifts were bad. I think it was more that they usually seemed like an afterthought. Mom felt like it was because they didn’t like her that they treated me like that.”