Polk Moms

Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.

We have 5 kids under the age of 16 and get a lot of gifts for holidays and birthdays. People don't listen to gift suggestions because the kids don't really care for most of them. We end up returning or regifting a lot. I don't know what to tell people when they ask how the kids liked their presents. Should we make up excuses or what?

If you tell people what the kids want and they buy them other gifts, you should be able to do whatever you want without any guilt. I used to get presents as a child and a teenager that I didn't care for and my mom left it up to me to return it or give it away. When people who gave the gift asked about it, we made up excuses about how much I liked them or whatever. But, when I turned 16, I finally got up enough nerve to tell them point blank that I didn't want it and asked if they wanted it back. I did get a bunch of gift cards after that and that was just fine with me. - J.J. in Frontenac, MO

FROM JODIE:

As parents, most of us have been in your shoes at one point or another, and know firsthand that it's no easy task to make up excuses about unwanted gifts for our kids. However, with five kids getting things as gifts that they don't particularly like, it can surely be quite a challenge to not only keep up with who got what and their thoughts about it, but also trying to make up stories or whatever about their feelings on each one. No one enjoys hurting people's feelings, especially when it comes to comments about gifts that they took the time to choose and spend money on, but if you don't speak up, it is only going to continue. You're also teaching your children the habit of making up excuses, skirting around the truth and/or not to speak up about their own feelings which will be detrimental to them as well as yourself as they get older. The bottom line is that you're basically teaching them to lie.

If possible, try to send them a list of specific gift ideas for each child well in advance of holidays and birthdays. You could even share with them that the kids are getting to the age where they have valid opinions about products that they want and you want them to respect the requests. And if gifts are still bought that they don't want, they will be returned either to them or to wherever they were bought for something that the child does want. Unfortunately, you're going to have to get a little gutsy with relatives and friends but it'll pay off in the end.

CAN YOU HELP?

My husband wants a divorce. I really don't know what to think about it. I'm upset, surprised, angry, sad and don't understand the reasons he says we need to call it quits after nine years and three kids. I don't even know what to tell the kids or how, when or where. Any advice on the best way to handle the situation and keep my emotions intact around the children?

To share parenting tips or submit questions, write to: Parent to Parent, 2464 Taylor Road, Suite 131, Wildwood, MO 63040. Email:direct2contact@parenttoparent.com,or go to www.parenttoparent.com which provides a secure and easy way to submit tips or questions. All tips must have city, state and first and last name or initials to be included in the column.

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