Doctor Love: Return to Sender

Sunday, October 6th, 2019

Readers email your question to [email protected]. Your letters are edited solely for grammar, spelling and length.

Dear Doctor Love,
I have a little girl, and her grandmother dotes on her, buying her masses of clothes, books, shoes, and toys. My daughter is three years old, and she quickly outgrows the cute little dresses, and my MIL (mother-in-law) just buys new ones.
The nearly new items that no longer fit filled a large plastic bin, so I gave the whole lot to my cleaning lady for her twelve-month-old baby girl knowing she will get good use out of them.
This has upset my mother-in-law. She’s instructed me that when my daughter outgrows something, I am to return it to her so she can save it for when my sister-in-law has kids. My SIL isn’t even married, let alone ready to start a family, so I think that is a silly point.
I hate to admit it, but I think my MIL is more concerned about the cost of the items and to whom they are being re-gifted. She mentioned that I shouldn’t be giving away hundreds of dollars in barely worn clothes to just anyone.
My cleaning lady is an honest, hardworking single mother and I don’t see why her daughter shouldn’t have these cute items, regardless of what they cost.
I always thought that once gifted; it is yours to do with as you see fit. I don’t want to fight with her, but I feel like asking her to stop buying my daughter gifts except on special occasions.
/s/Return to Sender

Dear Sender,
It is unfortunate that your MIL’s policy of “charity begins at home” also ends there.
The role of the grandmother is to spoil the grandkids, and she’s doing that quite admirably. She is, however, not entitled to get these gifts back once given. They belong to you for your daughter, and it is wonderful that you passed them to someone who needs them.
Instead of telling her to stop buying for your daughter, why not try to show her how to be giving of spirit? There are families in San Pedro who have a greater need than your daughter, and they can benefit from a few bits of apparel much more than a potential niece, who may, in fact, be a nephew. Your cleaning lady needs those items NOW, and it would be very gracious of your MIL to let them go without resentment.
Watch for charity events at Hope Haven and ask your MIL to volunteer. There’s always something for volunteers to do—from serving a meal to reading to the younger kids. Maybe your mother-in-law will realize that all children are equally deserving of love and kindness.

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