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Stepkids v. Kids, and Gifts

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If you have (or are) a stepchild, how does gift giving work in your family?

 

Let's say you have bio or adopted kids, and you also happen to have a stepchild or stepchildren.  In your family, would the grandparents (or other relatives, if applicable) send gifts just for the bio/adopted kids but not the stepkids?  If they send to both, would it be the same thing or general amount, or would the bio/adopted kids naturally get something more or bigger because, well, they're bio/adopted and the grandparents have known them longer?

 

Let's also assume that none of the kids/stepkids see the grandparents very often (maybe once or twice a year), in case that makes a difference.

 

Finally, do your own parents/family have the same approach or a different approach than your spouse's parents/family?

 

 

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My mom always gave my stepson a gift even before I had a bio son. 

 

ETA: Dss was 20 when ds was born so by that time it was a bit different (toys vs. adult gifts). Still, she always gave him something decent, not just a token gift.

Edited by Lady Florida
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My sister and my brother have step-kids, and my sister also has two other kids, unrelated to her, that spend time in her home many weekends.

 

I send equal gifts to all. It doesn't matter that I have never met four of the six "steps" and other kids. My sister and my brother are parenting these kids, and they are part of the family. Period.

 

FWIW, I never, ever quibble about which kid is more precious in the family. They are kids, and they need love. 

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Growing up, one grandmother always refused to give me a present for my birthday and only a token gift for Christmas.  I was not my dad's bio child.  It hurt!   Dh and I have a blended family and everyone is treated the same by the grandparents.  When the eldest two were little, dh and his ex explained "Santa" knew they lived at mom's house and would visit them there.  There were smaller gifts at our home.  That was the only difference.  When we later got custody, it flip-flopped.  

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I never had to worry about this growing up.  When my SIL (DH's sister) got married a few years ago, she had a step-son.  He was an young toddler when SIL got married, and an infant when they started dating.  So we knew him since he was really little, although we only saw him once or twice a year.  We got presents for step-kid just like we did for all our other nieces and nephews, as did ILs.  They divorced after about 2 years, so we no longer see him which was confusing for my children to lose a cousin.

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All kids are everyone's kids. They get age appropriate gifts from all grandparents. This is the same for all of our families:

 

Mine

My partner's

His step-brothers

My step cousins

My bio cousins

 

We are lucky to have found someone in the same culture that values family in a "more the merrier" and "that's just Aunt Lee, don't mind her she's a nut" kind of way.

Edited by Tsuga
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I was/am a step-kid; it seems really funny to put it that way, because I NEVER felt it.  Grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins all treated me the same as every other kid in my family.

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My parents have six grandchildren. Four of them (mine) joined the family through adoption, and two of them (my nieces) are step-grandchildren who were teenagers when they became part of the family. They are all treated equally as grandchildren. My mom once wondered aloud if she was supposed to call my nieces her step-grandchildren. My dad responded that there was no such thing as a step-grandchild -- they were just granddaughters like the others.

 

My dad is not great at building relationships with people in general, but I appreciate his attitude about this. We are just one big family, no matter how we became that way.

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Depends on the age difference to a point. None of my siblings have ever been acknowledged by my step-siblings family because we are 5-10 years older, and my younger siblings were with mum for the first few years, so we are now all adults or near adults, and our families are in no way merged to be honest, none of us were living with dad when he moved in with my step-sibs. It's more like he gained a second family than us being a larger one. My gifts for my step siblings are smaller than for my bio siblings (partly because my step siblings have no interest in any sort of relationship with me)

 

On the other hand, I know another set of step sibs who were all treated like biological children, and equal by their various relatives.

 

So, depends on the dynamic for each family I think. 

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Thanks, everyone. 

 

My family is just like what everyone else has said here.  My parents have 20+ grandkids of all sorts.  When I married DH, they gained a grandchild in my DSD.  Period.  She is their grandchild.  She gets the same amount of presents and time and attention as everyone else (cirumstances providing).

 

My husbands parents (he has two sets) are not the same, and it's just so troublesome to me.  They'll come to visit and leave my house to take DSD shopping, while my own daughter that's about the same age is home.  For Christmas they sent each of my kids $25 gift cards, and $200 to DSD. The other set of (DH's father and step-mother) sent individual gifts to me, to DH, to DSD, and then one "family" gift card to a restaurant.  Nothing with my bio kids' names on them.  

 

I don't understand this mindset.  It's completely foreign to me.  I realize not everyone's family is the same, but can they not see how that could be hurtful to my kids?  It's not about the amount, but the thought and the effort.  It's particularly bad for the 13 year old when her stepsister (she just calls her her sister, by the way) is 12, and they're very close.  If DSD is seeing her grandparents over the course of the year, my kids are there, too.  They don't live close.  

 

It's hurtful to me.  DH doesn't understand my POV, and there's nothing we can do about it anyway.  I'm thinking of asking DH to ask them to send gifts to DSD's mother's house and not here in the future.  

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Our families (and Dh and I) treat all four of our kids exactly the same when it comes to gifts and things like that. Ds was 2 when Dh and I got married, and my family had already started treating him as if he were my son. He does get small birthday and Christmas gifts from his biological mother and maternal grandmother, but we don't buy extra gifts for the other kids to make up for it.

 

 

Edited by Baile

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If you have (or are) a stepchild, how does gift giving work in your family?

 

Let's say you have bio or adopted kids, and you also happen to have a stepchild or stepchildren.  In your family, would the grandparents (or other relatives, if applicable) send gifts just for the bio/adopted kids but not the stepkids?  If they send to both, would it be the same thing or general amount, or would the bio/adopted kids naturally get something more or bigger because, well, they're bio/adopted and the grandparents have known them longer?

 

Let's also assume that none of the kids/stepkids see the grandparents very often (maybe once or twice a year), in case that makes a difference.

 

Finally, do your own parents/family have the same approach or a different approach than your spouse's parents/family?

 

My parents (mom/dad then mom/stepdad after dad died and mom subsequently remarried) always gave/give Christmas and Birthday gifts to my husband's son. They started including my husband's godson/our foster son once he started living with us.  These gifts were different from what our daughters have received but I think that is due to the fact that there were age, gender, and just different kid preferences at play. The gifts were always chosen and extended with love and there was never an idea of less than.  DH and I certainly would have never tolerated that. 

 

My husband's parents (technically mom and stepdad but although DH has some very early memories of his own dad who died when he was very young none of our kids have ever known is stepfather as anything other than Grandpa) have always give gifts to all of our children. I suppose that all of the biological children are technically MIL's "blood" but I also suppose none of them are really related to FIL at all and he has never been anything but awesome to and with any of them.

 

My husband's first set of inlaws (and DSS biological maternal grandparents) have always sent Christmas gifts to our other kids when sending them to their grandson.  They would come visit their grandson a few times a year (and stay in our guest house while visiting) so they got to know his sisters and were able to send meaningful gifts. 

 

In more recent years as we have had more foster children (one of whom we have adopted and two more we will finally adopt in early 2016) they have always been included in gifts by both of our parents. The first Christmas that DFD11 was with us (when she was eight) my MIL had gotten to know her quite well because we she had been with us a lot for respite before coming full time as a foster child. She had no problem with meaningful gifts, my own mom did request that I give her some ideas. Now three years later my mom has no problem knowing all of our girls well enough to get amazing gifts. (Ok our three, almost four month old is still working on developing her personality but she likes sparkly paper so anything wrapped in that for her to rip off will be a hit.)

 

DFD11 and DFD7's biological maternal grandfather gives them heritage gifts (something related to their mom's childhood or life) not necessarily at Christmas throughout the year. At Christmas he gives several gifts for all of our children (usually separated by age groupings). He has come to care about our kids and is very supportive of his granddaughters seeing them as siblings. He sees them as their siblings.

 

DSS and his wife now have two children. Their son is actually his wife's nephew that they adopted after his parents' unexpected death.Their now eighteen month old daughter is their biological child. We do not consider their daughter more our grandchild than their son and although none of our daughters have children yet I could never consider these precious children any less precious than any child one of our daughters might have.

 

DFS/DGS and his wife have a son who we cherish just as much as DSS's children above.  Although we never formally adopted his father we have continued to be the parental figures in his life and while my husband was never "dad", DGS taught his son to call my husband "Papa". In many ways when DH watches DSS and DGS with their boys he is reminded of his own friendship with DFS's dad when they both had their own young sons. Families come together in unique ways. Sometimes new relationships come together out of tragedy as we all extend grace and compassion as we heal.

Edited by LMV
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In my foo, step kids get the same quality and/or number (however you quantify gift giving) of gifts from everyone. I can not imagine it being any other way!!

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Interesting question.  My brother has step-kids, and I always bought for them even before he married their mom.  So this isn't about me being stingy.

But don't step-kids sometimes come out way ahead, because of having more family to dote on them?  I'm thinking of one family in particular, where the "step daughters" are very much doted on by their father's extended family.  Their half-brothers don't have anything comparable.  If the little half-brother's auntie decided to get him a nice gift and get the step-sisters a token gift, I would not blame her.

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I have several step cousins (on my dad's side) who were treated exactly the same as the bio grandchildren (my Mimmy is the best).  My mom learned from her MIL and not only are step grandchildren given the same as the bio's but so is my sister's ex's new wife's daughter.  We love kids no matter what.  

 

ETA:  I know that out there in the real world Life is not fair, but it's my house and I make everything as fair as possible. if the kids were being treated differently then I would first talk to the offender and if they weren't willing to adjust I would probably refuse all presents.

Edited by foxbridgeacademy
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Interesting question.  My brother has step-kids, and I always bought for them even before he married their mom.  So this isn't about me being stingy.

But don't step-kids sometimes come out way ahead, because of having more family to dote on them?  I'm thinking of one family in particular, where the "step daughters" are very much doted on by their father's extended family.  Their half-brothers don't have anything comparable.  If the little half-brother's auntie decided to get him a nice gift and get the step-sisters a token gift, I would not blame her.

 

I hear you, but when the kid lives with us at least half of the time, and all of the kids are together all of the time, I would think at least the grandparents would treat them all equally.  

 

Then again, and the reason I posed the question to begin with, I realize that not all families function the same way.  These are not unkind people, and I'm sure they have no ill-intent, but it really is bothering me because it's completely unlike anything I've ever experienced.  

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I hear you, but when the kid lives with us at least half of the time, and all of the kids are together all of the time, I would think at least the grandparents would treat them all equally.  

 

Then again, and the reason I posed the question to begin with, I realize that not all families function the same way.  These are not unkind people, and I'm sure they have no ill-intent, but it really is bothering me because it's completely unlike anything I've ever experienced.  

 

Do the "stepkids'" grandparents treat all the kids the same?  Or are the "stepkids" getting stuff from 3 sets of grandparents while the "non stepkids" are getting stuff from 2 sets?

 

Is anyone asking the "stepkids'" grandparents to give the same to all the kids?

 

ETA, I saw your recent post and see that yes, the other grandparents are treating all the kids the same.

 

Maybe you should say something to DSD's other grandparents to let them know that your parents treat all the kids the same and you'd like them to scale back the special treatment for DSD.

 

The idea of having the gifts go to DSD's mom's house is a great idea as well.

 

Edited by SKL

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Reading these posts reminded me of the Christmas that we had out foster daughter.  She had just had a failed adoption and was put with us temporarily until they could find her another placement.  We wanted her to have a wonderful Christmas.  One of the most special things was when my aunt gave her a beautiful necklace at our family gathering.  We usually did a name drawing because of the size of the family, and my aunt didn't want foster daughter to feel left out.  I really appreciated it a lot.

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Do the "stepkids'" grandparents treat all the kids the same?  Or are the "stepkids" getting stuff from 3 sets of grandparents while the "non stepkids" are getting stuff from 2 sets?

 

Is anyone asking the "stepkids'" grandparents to give the same to all the kids?

 

 

I'm actually talking about her (DSD)'s grandparents. She has two sets on her father's side of the family.  She is the only bio grandchild for DH's mother, but DH's stepfather has several kids and grandkids, all grown and with kids of their own, though.

 

She is the only bio grandchild of DH's father, but there are one or two more on DH's father's wife's side. I don't know how they are treated, but I know that they see them a lot more and are closer to them because they live close to each other.  

 

My own parents, with more than 20 grandchildren (albeit many of them grown and with kids of their own at this point), treat all the youngers equally.

 

And no, no one has asked. 

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I'm trying to think what my parents would do if one of their grandkids moved into a family with other kids.  I think they would treat them all the same, materially at least.  I think most people would realize that the kids in the home will notice unequal treatment and feel hurt.  The only reason I could see doing it would be if I knew the other kid in the home was getting special treatment too.

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The step-kids (as me and as my step-sibs) weren't all treated equally by all grandparents. But to be fair, I think it's different when the steps are teens and young adults when they join. I'm glad to have grown a relationship with my step-grandparents, but we weren't close or anything. I met them in my 20's. They sometimes send sweet things for my boys and they like to keep up with us on Facebook. I wouldn't expect anything else. My grandmother slowly has gotten closer to my step-sibs's kids (who are now adults themselves - so her step-great-grands) on that side... but it's clearly not the same for her. Everyone is okay with that. No one feels less loved. She's like a bonus. My father was closer with his step-grandkids, but they were little when he met them. (The first thing they ever sent him was a picture where he was labeled "Granny's Man" lol).

 

Basically, I think it's okay for things to evolve and different things to be right depending on the circumstances and ages of everyone. I would have felt odd as an older step-child getting treated like a "real" grandchild suddenly by these people I didn't really know. If I was an elementary schooler who was trying to figure out if I was really accepted and welcome in a new set up, that would be different.

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They aren't blood.  I would choose to ignore it.  You might not like the answer if you dig.

 

And fwiw, I was technically the step-something of the family my mother married into when I was a teen.  I don't take pictures with those people and I refused their gifts.  They were doing it to be nice, but I didn't want them and didn't want to be family with them.  You have your bonded situation, but that doesn't mean it's how they feel or how they have to feel about it.  Long-term are your bio kids going to be there for them?  Are they going to be there taking them flowers and going to the nursing home for them as adults?  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe the grandparents want to water the relationships they're nurturing for the long-term.  And it's not like they did NOTHING.  They did perfunctory, totally nice gifts.  They just didn't do bio gifts.  

 

You don't have to take it personally, and I agree with Farrar that teens are old enough to suck it up and figure it out.

Edited by OhElizabeth
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When I was in high school, we got a foster sister. From the very beginning, it was understood by everyone in the extended family that she would be treated just like the rest of us at Christmas and on her birthday. We did have to explain some of the inside jokes and traditions we had, but she quickly adapted to them. 

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I'm trying to think what my parents would do if one of their grandkids moved into a family with other kids.  I think they would treat them all the same, materially at least.  I think most people would realize that the kids in the home will notice unequal treatment and feel hurt.  The only reason I could see doing it would be if I knew the other kid in the home was getting special treatment too.

 

Yeah, that makes sense.  That's not happening here, for sure. 

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The step-kids (as me and as my step-sibs) weren't all treated equally by all grandparents. But to be fair, I think it's different when the steps are teens and young adults when they join. I'm glad to have grown a relationship with my step-grandparents, but we weren't close or anything. I met them in my 20's. They sometimes send sweet things for my boys and they like to keep up with us on Facebook. I wouldn't expect anything else. My grandmother slowly has gotten closer to my step-sibs's kids (who are now adults themselves - so her step-great-grands) on that side... but it's clearly not the same for her. Everyone is okay with that. No one feels less loved. She's like a bonus. My father was closer with his step-grandkids, but they were little when he met them. (The first thing they ever sent him was a picture where he was labeled "Granny's Man" lol).

 

Basically, I think it's okay for things to evolve and different things to be right depending on the circumstances and ages of everyone. I would have felt odd as an older step-child getting treated like a "real" grandchild suddenly by these people I didn't really know. If I was an elementary schooler who was trying to figure out if I was really accepted and welcome in a new set up, that would be different.

 

I do understand that part, which is why I'm not quite so bothered about DD19.  DD13, though, has known these people since she was 7, and DSD was 6.   

 

I really need to let it go.  They haven't done anything wrong, and, like I said, these are not unkind people.  It's just so different from anything I've seen before that I can't understand it, and I can't imagine doing it myself.  

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They aren't blood.  I would choose to ignore it.  You might not like the answer if you dig.

 

And fwiw, I was technically the step-something of the family my mother married into when I was a teen.  I don't take pictures with those people and I refused their gifts.  They were doing it to be nice, but I didn't want them and didn't want to be family with them.  You have your bonded situation, but that doesn't mean it's how they feel or how they have to feel about it.  Long-term are your bio kids going to be there for them?  Are they going to be there taking them flowers and going to the nursing home for them as adults?  Maybe, maybe not.  Maybe the grandparents want to water the relationships they're nurturing for the long-term.  And it's not like they did NOTHING.  They did perfunctory, totally nice gifts.  They just didn't do bio gifts.  

 

You don't have to take it personally, and I agree with Farrar that teens are old enough to suck it up and figure it out.

 

Interesting perspective, because I'm not a stepchild.

 

Not sure what you mean by I might not like the answer if I dig.  I really think it's just that every family does things differently, and I need to get used to it.  I'm just not yet. 

 

I also don't understnd the "teens need to suck it up and figure it out" thing.  I don't know how you intended that to sound, but it comes across pretty harsh.  Neither of my kids has said a thing except "thank you" to the gift givers.  Meaning, they haven't said anything to me, haven't made any insinuation that they deserve something more...nothing at all like that.  This is all a "me" thing.  

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Thanks, everyone. 

 

My family is just like what everyone else has said here.  My parents have 20+ grandkids of all sorts.  When I married DH, they gained a grandchild in my DSD.  Period.  She is their grandchild.  She gets the same amount of presents and time and attention as everyone else (cirumstances providing).

 

My husbands parents (he has two sets) are not the same, and it's just so troublesome to me.  They'll come to visit and leave my house to take DSD shopping, while my own daughter that's about the same age is home.  For Christmas they sent each of my kids $25 gift cards, and $200 to DSD. The other set of (DH's father and step-mother) sent individual gifts to me, to DH, to DSD, and then one "family" gift card to a restaurant.  Nothing with my bio kids' names on them.  

 

I don't understand this mindset.  It's completely foreign to me.  I realize not everyone's family is the same, but can they not see how that could be hurtful to my kids?  It's not about the amount, but the thought and the effort.  It's particularly bad for the 13 year old when her stepsister (she just calls her her sister, by the way) is 12, and they're very close.  If DSD is seeing her grandparents over the course of the year, my kids are there, too.  They don't live close.  

 

It's hurtful to me.  DH doesn't understand my POV, and there's nothing we can do about it anyway.  I'm thinking of asking DH to ask them to send gifts to DSD's mother's house and not here in the future.  

 

 

I'm so sorry this is the case in your home.  I can so totally feel your pain.  If your dsd lives with her mom, then I'd totally ask them to send the XL present to the ex's house.  As a parent ( who is answering from a hurt child's perspective ) I'd insist that all kiddos be treated the same at the grandparents' home or no one goes.  I sincerely wish you the best as you deal with this hurt.  

Edited by Artichoke
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I'm a stepkid. I've always been treated like a bio kid. My (step)sister is also a stepkid. Same for her.

 

Here's my opinion: if you can't find it in your heart to make sure that no kid is going to feel left out even the slightest, then just don't give gifts. Family dynamics can be hard enough. Be kind. Love all the kids. ETA: That's a general "you," not a "you the OP."

Edited by TaraTheLiberator
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My parents treat grandkids and the children of my sister's fiance equally in gifts, trips, and attention. I'm sure that's intentional, and I'm equally sure it's the exact right thing to do.

 

I suppose those kids probably benefit from, essentially, 3 sets of grandparents. But then my other sister's kids have very wealthy, generous family on their dad's side who give such lavish stuff that we get the cast offs sometimes. Of course my parents shouldn't give my my kids more gifts to make it even!

 

ETA: I hadn't read the other responses or your update OP. That's really hurtful. I do think sending gifts to mom's is best. I'm sorry hubby doesn't see the issue.

Edited by sbgrace
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My brother got remarried and his step children were immediately brought into the fold, equal in every way. They are my niece and nephew, my parents' grand children, the end. Same amount of money is spent on everyone in the same "class" (my parents spend the same amount of money on each grand child, I spend the same amount of money on nieces and nephews regardless of "step" status).

 

We aren't replacing their biological family, it's just more people to love them! :)

 

Sent from my SCH-I545 using Tapatalk

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IN my family there is no difference. All are treated equally.

 

Now, growing up my half sisters got tons of gifts from my dad/step mom while I'd get one or none. I once got a Penquins turtle neck when I was 16.

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My mother gave my oldest, my step dd, AMAZING gifts. My dad always gave her something good too. I think we always kept it pretty equal. The oldest, my step child, always had way more gifts than anyone else, she had more grandparents when you count step grandparents. She also had guilt money from her mom's parents. She always made a haul. The other kids never minded. The other kids never wanted her situation with her mother or her mother's parents. They were not worth some extra gifts to have them in your life.

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IN my family there is no difference. All are treated equally.

 

Now, growing up my half sisters got tons of gifts from my dad/step mom while I'd get one or none. I once got a Penquins turtle neck when I was 16.

 

Oh, wow.  That's just....wow.  

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So many variables, and most of the options are likely to be hurtful to somene.  

 

I was a stepkid.  My stepmom's sisters and families used to give us (me and sibling) gifts. It was so thoughtful of them yet extremely awkward for us. We didn't know the sisters, who lived out of state. It didn't help that we weren't particularly close to our stepmom, although we lived with her.

 

Otoh, my mom's long time boyfriend (30+ years) has always been very generous to us, both before and after they began living together. He's family. My kids consider him their grandpa, and it's mutual (even though my own father is also in the picture). 

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Interesting question. My brother has step-kids, and I always bought for them even before he married their mom. So this isn't about me being stingy.

But don't step-kids sometimes come out way ahead, because of having more family to dote on them? I'm thinking of one family in particular, where the "step daughters" are very much doted on by their father's extended family. Their half-brothers don't have anything comparable. If the little half-brother's auntie decided to get him a nice gift and get the step-sisters a token gift, I would not blame her.

Come out ahead? Wow.

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Interesting question.  My brother has step-kids, and I always bought for them even before he married their mom.  So this isn't about me being stingy.

But don't step-kids sometimes come out way ahead, because of having more family to dote on them?  I'm thinking of one family in particular, where the "step daughters" are very much doted on by their father's extended family.  Their half-brothers don't have anything comparable.  If the little half-brother's auntie decided to get him a nice gift and get the step-sisters a token gift, I would not blame her.

 

Yes, they do, and it can be overwhelming to the step.  It really sort of takes some of the fun out of it for the kid, or at least that is what I saw in my own stepson.  My and my husband's parents are both divorced as, of course, are his parents, so he would get stuff from a whopping six sets of grandparents (three bio sets, two step sets and one great-grandparent set) and two sets of parents, not to mention aunts and uncles.  I tried to explain this to my parents, but they insisted on getting him stuff.  I always insisted that when he was with us at my family's celebration, it was my and my husband's responsibility to provide something for him to unwrap.  They never listened to me.  It helped when he started spending Christmas with his mom, and then he grew up and it wasn't an issue any more.

 

I don't love the idea of forcing a relationship between steps and grandparents.  My stepson is unlikely to have an ongoing relationship with my parents; in fact, he doesn't.  And that's okay; he has perfectly lovely grandparents of his own.  I know plenty of families do it differently, and that's fine, but it's not important to everyone.

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Yes, they do, and it can be overwhelming to the step.  It really sort of takes some of the fun out of it for the kid, or at least that is what I saw in my own stepson.  My and my husband's parents are both divorced as, of course, are his parents, so he would get stuff from a whopping six sets of grandparents (three bio sets, two step sets and one great-grandparent set) and two sets of parents, not to mention aunts and uncles.  I tried to explain this to my parents, but they insisted on getting him stuff.  I always insisted that when he was with us at my family's celebration, it was my and my husband's responsibility to provide something for him to unwrap.  They never listened to me.  It helped when he started spending Christmas with his mom, and then he grew up and it wasn't an issue any more.

 

I don't love the idea of forcing a relationship between steps and grandparents.  My stepson is unlikely to have an ongoing relationship with my parents; in fact, he doesn't.  And that's okay; he has perfectly lovely grandparents of his own.  I know plenty of families do it differently, and that's fine, but it's not important to everyone.

 

See this has been the problem with steps in my family and my husband's.  Everyone bends over to make sure everything is perfectly fair and that in no way is one slighted. But yet, the steps come out way ahead by the time they do Christmas with their other parent, that parent's divorced parents, and so on. Then they grow up and just drift away from the step family in favor of the bio family.  None of the step kids have continued to visit at Christmas or Thanksgiving  because you can only do so much ( 5 or 6 different Christmas gatherings and bio over step seems to be the way). Both my mom and hubby's mom have had to learn that despite all the years of complete inclusion sometimes to the exclusion of the bios, the steps have only a minimal relationship with them. They have their own host of family and relations.   My niece did the same thing. She has little to do with her step family now that she is an adult on her own.  She has her own. Plus, if another divorce occurs, the step family goes away anyhow.

 

My hubby is the same way.  He had great step parents and still does. But truth be told, he would rather not be involved with them at all and just have time with his bio parents and family. And this has been going on since he was 5! They were great to him growing up and did a lot with him but as he says they are extras in a complicated picture he doesn't need or want.  They are there because his parents bring them along. Since nobody has ever asked if it is okay (until this last marriage), he's never felt he could say I'd rather have celebrations with my bio family and let my step family have their own.

 

I don't know what the solution is.  When they are little kids, you have to make it fair because it does hurt to be excluded or feel not wanted and they are kids. But it is certainly no guarantee that they will continue to feel a part of the family when they are adults.  My husband has always said he already had grandparents, brother, aunts/uncles, cousins,  He didn't need more and felt it was just another little way of saying the original family wasn't good enough to begin with so here's the new one. Worse, he said no one ever asked. It was always taken for granted that he would just flow with it and roll into the new family.

 

I have no clue how to navigate the waters during the holidays.  

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Come out ahead? Wow.

 

 

In our situation, my brother's step children had Christmas morning at their house, Christmas eve at my mom's (paternal step grandmother) with our family, Christmas eve morning at my brother's wife' mom's house (maternal grandmother) and her family,  the maternal grandfather's house, then another Santa Christmas at their dad's, another at the dad's mom's house and her husband, his dad's and his wife's house,

 

so they had two Santa's, one step family gathering,  and 4 bio grandparents celebrations (yes four separate ones)

 

My niece had Santa, us, and her step moms family gathering. Her step siblings came out ahead always. Their dad and his family had no obligation to buy her gifts as she was the ex wife's new husband's child. So i can see why in some step situations, some come out ahead in the gift department.

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Christmas gifts are about a generous and cheerful heart, not about measuring the potential future of a relationship.  If you cannot include all the children in your extended family with the same generous attitude, Christmas may not be for you.

What sort of bizarre economy says that because some children have more broken family relationships under reconstruction they're "making out" better than the kids in stable, intact family because they get more stuff?   Have we really become so materialistic that we evaluate those things in economic terms?!

"What does blood have to do with it?", this adoptive parent asks. No one in my large, extended family has the same "blood" as my adopted kid but they all treat her exactly like my biological kids.  My step-parents and step-siblings share no "blood" with me and yet treated me the same as their bio kids, including my step-sister (step-dad's daughter) who was abducted by her mother at 7 and disappeared for 30 years and has been back in our lives for about 5 years. She's a good and kind person and treats all of our kids the same and that's how we treat her kids.

No, my step-dad's mother lived on the other side of the country and died shortly after his marriage to my mother, so I didn't get stuff from her but my mother's parents were around for my step-siblings by my step-dad and they always treated them the same.  My step-brothers (step-sister wasn't in the picture, see above) helped care for them in their old age because no one in the situation was hung up on DNA or adoption decreed.  They loved all children however or whenever those children came into the family.

Here's the nutshell version of what I told my kids when I had to explain the abducted sister situation before meeting her family for the first time, "This is all hard enough, we don't need to make it any harder for anyone involved.  We're just going to treat them like we treat all your other uncles, aunts and cousins and we're going to make what time we have together the best we can by being kind and understanding and having fun.   The way to get through it is to not focus on how crazy and complicated the situation was, but do whatever you possibly can to make it as pleasant as it possibly can be now. " It's worked out well.

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I wish I had a copy of the eulogy my oldest step-brother delivered about both my biological maternal grandparents.  Here's mine I delivered about my maternal grandmother that demonstrates exactly how important it is to step and adopted children to be fully accepted and loved equally.

 

"You're going to wonder if John [stepbrother] and I discussed our eulogies before we wrote them.  We didn't. My brother has asked me to speak for both of us. Travis and I will always remember our Grandmother for her loving devotion to her family.

 

When Tim and I were going through the adoption process for Hope, the agency asked all the prospective adoptive parents to seriously consider the reaction of family members, particularly older ones, to having a relative that was not genetically related to them and of a different race. Some of the other couples cringed at the thought. I smiled. If there is anything our Grandmother loved unconditionally it was family and she didn't care how her family came together, what we looked like, or even if we had any redeeming qualities or not. She was ahead of her time. She understood that family was more than genetics-something we all need for these days with complicated family structures. And besides, isn't that what The Church is? A family without genetic relationship made up of every tribe and nation? She lived out her faith practically.

 

Some of us were born into her family, some of us came in by marriage or by the marriage of a parent. Some were here on day one and some came in after a decade or more on this earth. For some there was legal documentation and for others there wasn't. However we managed to join her biologically eclectic motley crew, our Grandmother delighted in being family to us. All she wanted was to love us. For better or worse, once you join this herd, you're one of us.

 

She also understood that people take very personally how you treat their loved ones. Any family to her family was family to her even if that branch of the family was on a different tree. When my husband Tim's Grandmother died, my Grandmother said, “You mean OUR Emma is gone?†And she meant it that way. Our cousin, Stephanie, on our dad's side, responded to news of her death with, “Your grandparents always treated Albert and I like we were theirs.†That's how they were. It didn't make any difference if we were a half, step, twice removed, extended relative by marriage or a direct biological descendant- she loved us all the same way because she thought of us all the same way.

 

She didn't hold back either. If we drew her a picture, it was the most beautiful picture ever drawn-even of she had no idea what it was. If we played her a song it was the greatest performance ever-even though she was completely tone deaf. If we visited her, she praised God out loud for granting her the privilege of living to see not just her grandchildren, but her great-grandchildren. She and Granddad always told each other they were the most fortunate people who ever lived. The accepted term for families with non-traditional structures or families with members of different ethnicities is 'patchwork family.' Our Grandmother thought hers was the most beautiful one God ever pieced together."

I miss my grandmother.

 

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In my extended family there are several step-kids and have been a great many foster kids through the years.

 

Every adult in my family gave every child a gift that was special, just for them.  Does it matter they aren't blood?  Ya' know...that might have been the only Christmas in a whole childhood for many of the foster kids where they were a part of a real Christmas.  Many of them probably never had anyone pry out of them some frivolous wish to wrap for gift.  I know many of them didn't usually have clothes/coats/etc..in such abundance.  Many of them, we know b/c they occasionally keep contact, have grown up to have families of their own and I like to think that they are better able to create healthy family dynamics as an adult b/c of the influence of my extended family members who took them in as foster children.  And, yes, Christmas is a HUGE factor...and major memory for kids!  The $ amount spent doesn't really matter, so long as they feel loved and cared for.

 

Yes, I've bought nice gifts for kids that I knew I'd likely never see again.  It was worth it.  No, I don't expect anything back in return.

 

As for step-kids?  I wouldn't push the relationship on older teens.  I agree on that.  But, in as much as it depends upon me, I will open up the opportunity.  

 

There is nothing you can really do if it's a grandparent doing the uneven gift-giving, but reinforce the fact that they are all loved equally in your home.

 

 

 

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In our situation, my brother's step children had Christmas morning at their house, Christmas eve at my mom's (paternal step grandmother) with our family, Christmas eve morning at my brother's wife' mom's house (maternal grandmother) and her family, the maternal grandfather's house, then another Santa Christmas at their dad's, another at the dad's mom's house and her husband, his dad's and his wife's house,

 

so they had two Santa's, one step family gathering, and 4 bio grandparents celebrations (yes four separate ones)

 

My niece had Santa, us, and her step moms family gathering. Her step siblings came out ahead always. Their dad and his family had no obligation to buy her gifts as she was the ex wife's new husband's child. So i can see why in some step situations, some come out ahead in the gift department.

They also get torn in multiple directions. If you think that is coming out ahead, then good for you I guess.

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Christmas gifts are about a generous and cheerful heart, not about measuring the potential future of a relationship.  If you cannot include all the children in your extended family with the same generous attitude, Christmas may not be for you.

 

What sort of bizarre economy says that because some children have more broken family relationships under reconstruction they're "making out" better than the kids in stable, intact family because they get more stuff?   Have we really become so materialistic that we evaluate those things in economic terms?!

 

 

 

Awww, that's such a sweet sentiment.  :huh:

 

It's not about economic terms; it is about an overwhelming number of gifts.  No kid can appreciate that many gifts.  The potential future relationship is relevant in that it indicates that there isn't really a relationship NOW.  So the kid ends up getting a bunch of kids from extended step-family who don't have any idea what he would like.  Parents can have a legitimate interest in discouraging step-grandparents from lavishing gifts on their step-grandkids when those kids end up having five or six Christmases.  I don't question how it works in different families; to each his own.  But there is not one definite right answer that fits every family situation.  

 

No one is suggesting foster or adopted children not be treated the same, so I don't get the whole "mother of an adopted child" defensiveness.

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They also get torn in multiple directions. If you think that is coming out ahead, then good for you I guess.

 

That may be the case for all the kids in the family though.  In the family I was talking about, there are 4 kids with 3 fathers.  The kids who are lavished with gifts and special treatment from all sides are the middle two.  The oldest kid grew up with pretty much no involvement from his bio dad's side, and he's been shifted around every few years since birth.  The youngest has his mom and dad (for now anyway), but they are dirt poor and probably doing drugs and I'm not aware of any involvement from his dad's extended family.  He's been toothless since age 2 when his stepsister busted his teeth out with a baseball bat.  So I dunno, it's not like he lives a charmed life just because his bio parents are both there.

 

As far as I know, everyone treats all four kids the same, except for the paternal side of the two stepdaughters.  I'm just saying I could understand if someone chose to counter the imbalance a bit.

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