My in-laws give my kids things. I don’t want my kids to have these things.

Please tell me how to handle this situation. My in-laws are constantly trying to give my children things, like iPads, family trips to Europe that they pay for, designer handbags for my daughter. I don’t want my daughter to have a designer handbag because I think she is too young. I don’t think a seven-year-old boy needs an iPad. I see no reason to take a child to Europe. It goes against my morals to be so indulgent with the children, yet I find it hard to say no when my in-laws present these things, because no one else seems to have a problem with it. 

Of course no one else has a problem with it, because it’s either your husband, who was raised by these wonderful iPad-purchasing people, or your children, who don’t want much in life, just an occasional jaunt to Europe with their grandparents.

Having stuff doesn’t make kids grow up to be assholes. Kids grow up to be assholes if they’re raised to think they’re entitled to stuff, and that they don’t have to take care of their stuff, or that they don’t have to participate in the world around them and help other people who need stuff, like food and shoes that fit. While these gifts might make you slightly uncomfortable, they must make your kids wicked psyched, and I bet it makes your in-laws really happy to treat their grandchildren with things that rock their little worlds.

We live near my mother and my mother-in-law. Here is a representative scenario of what happens basically every day in around here:

Me: Hey, Mom/Mother-in-law, thanks for the potato gun. It’s really neat and the kids loved shooting each other’s ears off, but we went to the emergency room six times today, so maybe we should lay off stuff like that for a while.

Grandmother: Okay, dear, of course, I’m so sorry!

The next day:

Me: I thought I said no more guns!

Grandmother: You said no more potato guns, honey. This is a flame thrower; it’s totally different.

Me: What the f. Fine. Whatever.

Kids: HOORAY! Let’s go set the yard on fire!

It’s the power of the grandparent, and unless you want to declare an all-out war, which could result in them hiring the Ringling Brothers to perform in your driveway for a week and for each kid to have a BMW delivered every day for the duration of their teenage years, you might as well relax, let your in-laws indulge your kids, and use the opportunity to teach them how to write a really good thank-you note.

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