Adult Son and Wife Do Not Give Me Birthday or Christmas Gifts or Cards.

Updated on January 10, 2012
J.L. asks from Tulsa, OK
24 answers

My son and his wife live out of state. I send cash birthday and Christmas gifts to both of them including my step-granddaughter. I am single who lives on social security. It hurts me that I get nothing not even a card from them. My son does call on holidays but I never hear anything from my daughter-in-law. The worse part of this situation is my granddaughter who lives with me doesn't recieve gifts from her dad and step-mother either. She is 17 and a wonderful girl, never in trouble and makes good grades. There are no issues in the family that may cause this. My granddaughter lives with me due to her choice of college. Should I stop sending gifts that I really can't afford or just ignore the situation?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

I want to thank all of you for your resposes. You have helped me make a decision. First just want to clear up some things. My son and daughter-in-law do celebrate birthdays and holidays. My son has a good relationship with his daughter, they text and talk quiet often. My granddaughter and I do exchange gifts. She works and she always sends her dad and stepmother gift cards for birthdays and Christmas. I feel my son can afford gifts because I see pictures on facebook of them celebrating at resturants or at home with birthday cakes. I don't care about the gift part for me, it is just the thought, a card would be fine. My granddaughter deserves more. Her mother is out of the picture so she receives nothing from either parent. Getting back to my decision, It is a new year so no more birthday gifts, cards only. I will tell my son what I think about him not sending his daughter gifts and leave it at that. He is my only child and I did not raise him to not be grateful.

Featured Answers


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi J.,
I'm very sorry to hear this. Personally, I would stop with the gifts to them and send a card only.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Stop sending gifts you can't afford. It sounds like they are trying to give you a hint. You sound like a nice lady.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

maybe they cant afford it? I never sent anything to my mom either although she sent me things. She could afford to, I could not. I always called though.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Chicago on

Stop sending gifts, they are adults. I do not send my parents anything but once in a blue moon or if something really spoke to me. I have a WONDERFUL relationship with my parents, I can not affoard to send gifts and I have always thought cards are annoying and a waste of resources - they know this.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Fargo on

J., I think you should tell them how you feel instead of just stopping the gifts. Hurting them won't stop your hurt. Try having a gentle, open dialogue with them and tell them that you feel ignored (or whatever you feel).

Don't stop sending them gifts. Make them smaller if you can't afford them, or let them know that you can't afford gifts so you will be unable to send them any longer.

It's very difficult for me to send gifts through the mail. I have so much on my plate that it's not even on my radar. It doesn't mean that I don't care, it just means that I am barely staying afloat with all the major things that I have to do. There might be several reasons that they don't send gifts and I encourage you to ask why instead of assuming that they don't care about you.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Whoa. First of all, if you can't afford the gifts--stop sending them!
As for a gift/card in return--I'm sure that's not why you give in the first place.
Your DIL sounds like a real dud.
Actually, I'm sorry, so does your son--who does not send *something* to his own child on her birthday? OR to his own mother?
Sounds to me like you're already "giving" him enough by taking care of your 17 yo grand daughter who lives with you.
In a word--yes--stop sending anything to them except O. Christmas card to the entire household. The cost? O. stamp.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My husband forgot his mom's birhtday once. He was 19. She cried on the phone when he did call, she gave him the rejected hurt cry. He will never let me forget her birthday.

I would start sending just cards. Let him know it is hurtful to you that he does not acknowlegde his own daughter. That you understand getting mom a card is difficult but his daughter deserves better treatment. Lay it on thick. You did not raise an ingrate. Let him have it for yoru granddaughter's sake. And tell him, even a gift card to Claire's or MAcy's is good.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My mother doesn't send me mothers day gifts or calls. Says since I'm not her mother she shouldn't need to. My ex never gave me a Mother's day card or gift...said I wasn't his mother.

On the other hand, I do send her, my MIL and Sister all Mother's Day cards, etc. I also do NOT send my mother a card on her Birthday, I send her flowers. Every year.

I would say, mention it. But in doing so kinda defeats the purpose of him just being a decent son and doing it on his own. I'd COMPLETELY disregard the DIL cause well, she is the DIL. I would ask if the granddaughter does anything for you? Tells you? Gets you a card, etc?

As a way to broach the subject with them tho (if you're headed that direction) I'd mention the gifts to his DAUGHTER or lack thereof and then lead into something like..."Hell, you don't even get me anything for my birthday either..." or something similar. (you can leave out the Hell if you want)

I'm sorry that he doesn't acknowledge you on those special days. Maybe it's time to forget them on those days. And when they ask...tell them that you gave it to the granddaughter instead...

Sending good thoughts your way.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Gifts aren't or at least they shouldn't be given with anticipation of getting something in return. It is nice to exchange gifts but just because someone gives a gift does automatically mean that the recipient has to in turn give a gift. It is very nice and thoughtful of you to send gifts but you can't afford it so STOP doing it. If you still want to let them know you are thinking of them, call them or send a card. As for your granddaughter, maybe you can remind your son to at least acknowledge her's not unreasonable.

Is it possible that your son, his wife, and her child do not celebrate birthdays and holidays? Even if he did before, they may not be now. I have a good friend who was raised celebrating all of these but he married a girl that was Jehovah Witness and they did not. When they had kids, they did not raise them to celebrate holidays and birthdays. If I purchased a gift, they accepted but I knew we weren't exchanging gifts. They would sometimes attend my son's birthday parties but usually did not as to not confuse their children. They did attend some of the family events but it was not easy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia.

Do what my parents did to the grandkids! Stop sending. My parents gave the grandkids warning - they said - we know you have a busy life - but we take the time to pick cards out as well as presents - we are not expecting ANYTHING in return but a THANK YOU - call or write - if we don't get either - you get NOTHING.

Couple of the grandkids didn't believe it. So when birthday's went by and my parents only called to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY - they wondered where their money went...they asked..yep ballsy - they asked and my parents told them again - this is what we expect. They started becoming active my parents life - and found it wasn't soo bad - trips in a motor home - free food, travel, they learned the art of THANK YOU...

However, your son doesn't even bother to purchase anything or make anything for you - I would tell him how I feel. Tell him you expect SOMETHING - hand made - a card - SOMETHING to acknowledge you or you will stop sending/giving.

I know that some people say that the pleasure is in giving. But when it comes to our children - we would expect something - even a token SOMETHING.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Sorry to hear about your situation - you sound like you're a very sweet mother / mother-in-law / grandmother. I think you should stop sending, them all gifts immediately, especially since it's not really in your budget, but I think you should still send birthday cards and don't forget a nice Happy Birthday phone call too.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I would talk to your son. I wonder if he thinks the wife is doing these things and she's not. If that is not the case, I would let him know that not sending anything to his daughter is unacceptable. I would be okay with it being just me, but I would be very upset that he isn't sending anything to his daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

1) i never alter my gift or card behaviour based on others behaviour.
2) i would never give gifts i couldnt afford.

So yes, stop sending gifts you cant afford.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would not hesitate to ask him why he doesn't acknowledge his daughter on her birthday and xmas and to let him know that you think that that is horrible. You can throw in there how it hurts you that they don't acknowledge you either, but mostly it should be about his child. And I would definitely stop with the gifts. If nothing else, that will probably get his attention.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

J., please stop sending gifts. You are already giving a HUGE gift by having your granddaughter live with you while she is in college. I hope she is good to you.

If your son asks why you stopped sending gifts, tell him that it hurts you that they think so little of you that they never send any acknowledgement that you are his mother, that his wife never calls or shows any caring toward you as her MIL, and that you realize that they just don't care. It also hurts that they can't even send their own daughter gifts.

If he acts ugly, then you know that all he wants out of you is money. If he says he is sorry, then that is good. However, no more gifts.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son may not send me something for all my birthdays or Christmas', but he always calls me several times around and on the special date and when he does send or bring me a gift he goes all out and more than "makes up" for it. I also don't give with the expectation of receiving, but for your granddaughter who lives with you I would be upset.

Stop sending cash gifts to the adults, (spend it on or give it to your granddaughter to spend if you have it extra) and ask them if they celebrate birthdays and Christmas (as Lynn suggested they might not.) If they do still send a small cash or gift card gift to your step-granddaughter, and if they don't just stop that as well.

And never give if you truly can't afford to, God knows your situation and your heart.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am also sorry for your situation.
I agree to just send the cards.
You didn't say, but does he contact his daughter at all or pay child support? I especially feel for her!
You sound like a wonderful mom and grandparent.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I would stop sending them. It is apparently a family culture for them that gifts aren't exchanged, so I would spend money, especially since you are on a limited income. Really, I wish my grandparents would stop sending gifts too our kids, they can't afford it either. The adults in my family don't usually do gifts for each other. Spend the money on your granddaughter. When he calls, is he thankful for the gifts? That would mean something to me, if it is a gratitude thing or not.

I don't send cards, but I call my mom and will send her a little gift if I can afford it that year, or try and make it a trip to go visit her.



answers from Birmingham on

I would definitely say STOP sending gifts you can't afford and ignore what you call the situation. This is most likely the norm in many, many families - right or wrong, comfortable or uncomfortable. If you want to send something to them, send a card only and express your love in words alone and wish them a happy birthday. You are showing your family you are a loving grandmother by helping to support your granddaughter while she's living with you for college. I'm sure her dad greatly appreciates that love and gester even though he may not know how to show it (at this time anyway). Just call them or send a card from time to time to let them know your thinking of them and wish them a happy birthday/Merry Christmas in that manner.



answers from San Francisco on


I am sorry that you are being ignored by them and that it hurts you! I know it doesn't feel very good. I personally would stop sending gifts or over the top things to them. If they don't acknowledge/reciprocate I would take that to mean they aren't interested.

Instead, I would work on the relationship with your daughter-in-law if that is what you are seeking. If you want to get to know her better, see if she wants to chat on the phone every few weeks etc.

Hope this helps. But yes, stop sending gifts.!




answers from Kansas City on

My mother lives on basically her Social Security so she doesn't have much. She does not give us gifts and we don't expect it. She does send us cards.




answers from Savannah on

I would take it as a new rule (I follow other peoples' social leads when it happens several times in a row): adults don't need gifts/cards. If they don't give you one, then they don't need one (that sounds catty, but I'm thinking that if someone doesn't phone their mother for a birthday, then birthdays aren't being "played" between them anymore, meaning stop letting it be a one-sided thing. If he can't recognize you and wish you a happy birthday, then you can just phone him to say happy birthday, but no gifts or cards). Kids are a different story. I'd give a gift to my step granddaughter. And I WOULD tell him that his daughter is still young and should be acknowledged from her parents on her birthday and Christmas, PERIOD.



answers from Washington DC on

I would tell them, before the next occasion, that you would like a card. I can see my SS doing this. He doesn't seem to remember anybody's events unless it is pointed out to him. He was shopping Christmas EVE, even though he got the lists of ideas weeks ahead and got them re-sent earlier in the week. I think that if they don't send gifts to your granddaughter, either, there's something not on their radar. I would start with, "Son, I've noticed that you don't send gifts or cards to me or GDD. I'm really surprised you and your wife don't acknowledge your daughter. Is there a reason you don't send cards or gifts?"

I would not send gifts I couldn't afford,but I would gift a child under 18 without much reciprocation, especially since she is the stepsib of the grandkid that lives with you.


answers from Houston on

Follow their social graces and keep your cards and money to yourself! I hate it when any adult child forgets the parent(s) who sacrificed for them--unless that parent was a no-good one...

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions