Call me crazy but I believe that if someone gives someone presents it should be because they have a presence in the recipients life. I also believe that to have a presence in someone's life there needs to be more than just presents. Obviously there are some exceptions, but in this there are none.
I recently drew a line in the sand with someone, not to be hurtful, though I suspect it was anyway. I am not her favorite person and she is not mine, but through fate we are tied to each other whether we like it or not. Her spouse, while someone near and dear to to me, is also currently extremely pissed off at me and that has caused a suspension of all communication from him with me and my family. She still communicates with me enough to keep up some knowledge of the goings on with our children.
Last year at this time, she was extremely generous with my children and while I appreciate it very much, I was also a little uncomfortable with that generosity. Back then the differences her husband and I had were newer and I suppose I thought they would pass after a short time. They did not and to this day, there remains a blinking beacon of a reminder that this rift still exists.
As this year passed I grew ever more uncomfortable with my kids receiving gifts from someone they had a limited relationship with to begin with. The fact that her spouse is family and has, through his anger with me, punished my children in the process really just smells bad to me. So, when I was asked this year what my kids would like, I expressed my discomfort and thus I drew the line in the sand.
This line is not meant to hurt her or my kids. It is meant to make a point. They are a couple and though he/she/they may not be happy with me, there is no time when it is acceptable to penalize my children for that. I respect that she wishes that my kids know she is thinking of them. I respect the fact that she has made the effort for my children when I know she probably would rather drop-kick me. What I cannot ignore is that her spouse's behavior has not gone unnoticed by my children. They are pretty savvy and things like who signs their cards and whether or not they get a call on their birthday do not go unnoticed.
My position now is that they be united in their presence with my children or they shouldn't send presents to them. I do not want my kids to feel they are entitled to fancy gifts and come to think of them as a requirement or definition of the relationship. I believe gifts should have meaning and the relationship between the two parties should be healthy and active. I also believe that if you are a couple then you should act as such towards my children regardless of how you feel about me. I am not the important person in the equation -- not by a long shot. Children already have far to much of a sense of entitlement in this world, I do not want or need to foster it any deeper than it already goes.
I was told that my relationship with her spouse was between us and that she wasn't trying to do anything but let the kids know they were thought of. That I cannot argue with. I believe it is an honorable intention and I agree that my differences with her spouse are between the 2 of us. He has made them affect others and that I cannot abide.
As to the disagreement, I have made my position clear and I have made some concessions for him in the face of his clear position. I have made apologies and admitted my guilt and faults. No concessions or admissions have been made towards me.That is his choice and he will have to live with that. It has, thus far, been a one way street, but as of now it becomes a dead end, unless the innocent victims are given reprieve. Penalize me all you want, penalize my kids and you can bet I am not going to put up with that.
I love my family, every single one -- even when we do not see eye to eye. I have been cut off and cut out by most for a lot of reasons. I have made my apologies for my parts in the problems that afflict the family. Only one has given me the same courtesy, though I believe it was to keep the door open to my kids. This family uses silence and withdrawal of presence AND presents as punishment. It has been that way for my whole life. I watched older relations who are no longer with us do the very same over the years, so it comes as no surprise. None of that means I am required to go along with it and since I have given over a year in time to see where things will go and have seen no change, I choose to bow out and save my kids from the same fate in the future.
Do my kids deserve presents? Possibly. Do they deserve presence? Definitely. Do they deserve punishment? Yes, when THEY misbehave. Do I get hurt by them being punished through this situation? Yes, inasmuch as I love my kids and don't like to see them used as pawns. Otherwise, no I don't. This is an opportunity to use the circumstances to show them how to treat people you love. This is a chance for my kids to learn that talking to each other about things, no matter how hurtful it may be to do so, is the only way to go. This is the time to teach my kids that not talking it out and not owning your part in a disagreement is just plain wrong.