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'AITA for telling my father and stepmom I'm exchanging the gift they got my daughter?' UPDATED

'AITA for telling my father and stepmom I'm exchanging the gift they got my daughter?' UPDATED


Unfortunately, some people don't respect boundaries, no matter how many times you reinforce them.

In a popular post on the AITA subreddit, a woman asked if she was wrong for telling her dad and stepmom she'll be returning the gift they got her daughter. She wrote:

"AITA for telling my father and stepmom I'm exchanging the gift they got my daughter?"

My daughter is turning 5 later this month. We have a trip coming up, so we decided to have her birthday party last Saturday instead. When we got home after the party, we helped our daughter open her gifts. The only ones she didn't open were the ones we realized were jewelry or clothing (she doesn't care about those, only the toys), which me and my husband opened without her.

Those were gifted mostly by family members. The jewelry department mainly consisted of necklaces and bracelets. The sole exception was a pair of earrings, gifted by my father and his wife. My daughter's ears aren't pierced. We didn't pierce them when she was born, nor do we intend to do so anytime soon. We want to let her decide whether she wants to, and she's never expressed any interest.

So me and my husband already knew we'd be exchanging the earrings. Usually, we don't tell people we're exchanging a gift they bought for us. This time is different. My stepmother has been pestering me about piercing my daughter's ears since she was born. There's always a different reason why.

First, it was because "people wouldn't know she was a girl if we didn't," then it turned into "she'll get jealous of her friends," and so on. But she always makes the point that girls need to have their ears pierced. She brings it up almost every time we see her. My father usually doesn't comment on it, but has backed her up a few times.

Also, my stepmother's never complained about my older son's appearance, so I know this is rooted in s*xism. When my father called us the next day to ask what we thought of the earrings, I told him they looked nice. My stepmother joined in and asked, "So you're getting her ears pierced?" I tried to dodge the question, but she later asked it again. So I told them no.

I looked at the store's website and found a matching necklace, which we'll exchange the earrings for. There's a price difference, but I'll cover it. Well, they weren't happy. Apparently, my stepmother started crying. My father told me off for thinking about exchanging a "thoughtful gift" he bought for his granddaughter, and said it was wrong of me to dismiss my stepmother's opinion like that.

In return, I told them I couldn't take her insistence anymore, and she needed to stop obsessing over my daughter's ears. It escalated into a fight. My husband, while 100% on my side otherwise, thinks I didn't need to tell them. AITA?

EDIT: The party took place at a kids party venue, not at our home. We're not from the US, and it's not common to open gifts in front of guests around here.

The internet had a lot of comments and questions to add.

Tangerine_Bouquet wrote:

NTA. Honestly, I'd never let them babysit your daughter unsupervised because of that level of insistence.

Your stepmother pushed. This is a more than reasonable boundary to hold: No, you will not be piercing your daughter's ears.

It wasn't a gift, it was an attempted manipulation. Even if it were his side of the family, your husband would be out of line here. This is an example of needing to tell them that the gift was inappropriate--because they knew full well it was!

BulbasaurRanch wrote:

NTA. It’s ridiculous they tried to manipulate their bizarre desire to pierce your daughters ears by gifting you this. They knew what they were trying, and don’t like being called out on it. It’s not their kid, so they don’t get to decide anything about parenting it.

Get your step mother a gift she can’t use and see how she likes it. Tell her you think she needs to take up scuba diving, and get her a dive mask. All gifts going forward are things she can’t use, and when she questions it you can tell her that it’s a thoughtful gift and you’ve decided she needs to get into scuba diving.

owls_and_cardinals wrote:

LOL what a joke, super NTA. It's hard to believe - yet I believe it - that your dad and stepmom would think they should use a gift-giving opportunity for their beloved granddaughter to force you into making a parenting decision that does not impact them in any way and is absolutely none of their business. Like 'whaaaat?!'

Frankly I think you're a saint for handling it the way you have up until now because you've kept the peace. Rather than let it go, they've taken your peaceful response and just doubled down on their badgering, which is SO wrong - so disrespectful, so not their place, so irrational, so unnecessary, so biased.

You aren't TA for finally speaking up on this or informing them of the exchange; otherwise you would have had to lie or lie by omission and that's really not better, and doing so would have left the door open for this to continue indefinitely. It needed to stop, and if they want to have a relationship with you and their granddaughter THEY need to stop.

EDIT TO ADD: One minor thing you might have done differently and might still if it's not too late - put the earrings away for the future. You admitted your daughter didn't care about the gift and isn't looking for it, and putting them away would have been a way to show you recognize they are special and are saving them for when she wants to pierce her ears, IF she ever does.

BUT it's a minor point because in my view it was important that you confront this issue head-on, that you don't want to be badgered anymore.

OP responded:

Knowing my stepmother, keeping the earrings is a bad idea. She talks about how "pretty she'd look with earrings" enough as it is. Having actual earrings around would just make things worse. Also, if my daughter does decide to pierce her ears one day, I think she'd like to pick her own earrings.

KimB_booksncats-11 wrote:

I've already mentioned it in another comment but you could consider earring adaptors. I have over 200 pairs of earrings (my godmother was obsessed with goodwill stores) and most are clip earrings but I have some I have converted. Earring adaptors are easy to find (Amazon) and easy to use.

I'm in my mid 40s and I'm never getting my ears pierced because while you can convert 'normal' earrings to clip it doesn't work the other way around. Just a thought and obviously NTA.

OP responded:

Maybe one day, but she's really not interested in any type of earrings right now. If she ever decides she wants to pierce her ears, adaptors might be a good way to get her used to the idea before doing so.

supple_honey wrote:

I would literally never leave them alone with her, they will pierce her ears in a heartbeat.

OP responded:

They're never alone with her. My father still works and doesn't have enough free time to babysit. My stepmother has never been alone with a child for more than two hours (her words, not mine), so we wouldn't ask her to stay with our kids either.

Mapilean wrote:

NTA. You're totally right about the ear-piercing thing and it was sure a manipulative move on your step-mother. Maybe you could have said that you'd keep the earrings and let your daughter decide if she wants to pierce her ears, when she is older. This way you could have kept the peace and not wounded your daughter.

I have to say I find it weird that you didn't open all the gifts with your daughter: you should teach her to appreciate every kind of gift she receives, besides toys.

OP responded:

I've said this in a different comment, but she is thankful. She's just not as excited about the clothes and jewelry as she is about the toys. And she was tired from the party, so we decided to just let her see the toys before bed. Plus, my MIL tried to give her some unbelievably s*xist shirts last year, so we always check new clothes before letting our daughter see them.

Eight days later, OP shared an update.

I want to thank everyone who commented on my previous post. A few days after I wrote, I called my father. I told him that both him and his wife were out of line, and that any further attempts to overrule my and my husband's parenting will have consequences.

We're both more than willing to limit their contact with our children if they don't stay in their lane. We did end up fighting about it, but I put my foot down. Eventually, my father agreed. A few days later, he sent me an apology (via text) and offered to cover the price difference between the earrings and the necklace. I declined.

I also discussed the situation with my husband. We both agreed to check whatever gifts our kids get from my father and his wife in the future. Better safe than sorry. My husband and I exchanged the earrings for the matching necklace during the weekend. Our girl loved it. We filmed her wearing it and thanking my father and his wife, and sent them the video.

My father sent us an audio ("you're welcome, honey", "I love you", etc.) in response. My stepmother didn't reply, nor do I expect her to. Also, you guys are absolutely right: there's no way in hell either of them are ever babysitting my kids. But yeah, I think this is over. Thank you for reassuring me that I was right to hold my ground.

The comments kept flowing in.

Delicious_Bell_2755 wrote:

Next occasion, get your step mom a set of nipple rings. And just maintain eye contact.

Scapezero wrote:

"No one will know you are a girl without them"

Melodic_Sail6193 wrote:

One of my earliest memories is the moment I got my ears pierced. I must have been 2 years old and I still remember the pain! That was traumatizing.

OP responded:

Yeah, my daughter is old enough to remember something like this, too. I would never pierce her ears unless she wanted to.

Dalton402 wrote:

Is the stepmother Spanish or Latin American. I know in Spain it is traditional for girls to get their ears pierced when they are babies. However, she shouldn't be pushing so hard for your daughter to have her ears pierced when you had already told her no.

That is interfering and crosses a line.

You're right you can't leave your daughter alone with the stepmother. I've heard stories of grandmothers getting their granddaughter's ears pierced against the mother's wishes.

OP responded:

We're all from Latin America. It's pretty common to pierce girls' ears right after birth around here. I have nothing against people who do that, but I'd never do it myself.

Canyonemoon wrote:

I'm glad it had a happy-ish ending! Good for you and your husband that you stood your ground and firmly held onto your boundaries. Glad your father has been able to relent (even if it's just through voice notes), sad that your stepmother is acting like a child. And most importantly, very happy that your little girl loved the necklace! That's the most important thing! And yeah, definitely no babysitting help from them.

OP responded:

I do consider this a happy ending. Not exchanging the earrings was never an option, but the matching necklace was lovely.

Icy_Doughnut_4142 wrote:

I'm glad everything worked out, especially between you and your father. Your stepmother is not a part of the decisions making and her attitude shouldn't matter as long as your father gets it.

You are doing what is best for your child and you know your child better than a woman who is just in this family by marriage (sorry but true) so you continue to protect her and make sure you pay extra close attention to how your stepmother behaves around her.

OP responded:

"You know your child better than a woman who is just in this family by marriage (sorry but true)."

No need to apologize, ABSOLUTELY true. The kids don't call her grandma, I don't consider her a grandmother. I barely consider her a stepparent. She shouldn't take any part in any decision concerning my kids.

Sources: Reddit
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