Dear Coleen: I cancelled Christmas after row with daughter – does this make me a bad person

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In the past, I have taken verbal abuse from this daughter, but I’m returning the gifts and placing the money in my savings account

Dear Coleen

My daughter has been married for 16 years and, for most of that time, my and I have helped her out financially.

She has four sons with her husband and over the past four years he has quit numerous jobs.

When this happens, we are expected to cover the cost of providing clothes, shoes, coats, school supplies and all expenses for Christmas, including gifts.

Before Christmas, I showed up at their with plastic storage containers to repack his “collections”, which I’ve done twice in the past. This time, I needed to repack his stuff to create space for the new bikes for his sons.

My daughter was talking to her husband on the phone at the time (he was at work), and when he found out I was there to pack his stuff, I could hear him screaming non-stop for the next five minutes about people going through his stuff.

I left, but before I drove away, I cancelled Christmas as I won’t be disrespected by a son-in-law.

My daughter texted me to say my visit was unannounced and unexpected, even though I’d told her several times that we needed to make space for the bikes.

She said these expensive bikes could be left outside or stored inside their already too small home, so I said I couldn’t agree to that and cancelled Christmas.

In the past, I have taken verbal abuse from this daughter, but I’m returning the gifts and placing the money in my savings account.

If I choose, I can send my grandsons some gift certificates.

Does this make me a bad person? The whole situation has made me ill. Did I do the right thing?

Coleen says

I don’t think you’re a bad person – it sounds like you’ve been pushed to the edge and everyone has a breaking point. I think this was yours.

You’ve done a lot for both of them over the years and they’ve kind of taken it for granted, so you don’t feel appreciated.

On the other hand, if you decide to do things for people and be generous with your time and money, I think you have to do it without any expectations.

I think you also need to be honest with about whether going round and packing his stuff might be overstepping the mark and considered interfering and even confrontational.

Maybe you were doing it out of the kindness of your and trying to be , but try to see it from their point of view and think about how you’d feel in their situation.

Why not step back a bit? Be a loving grandmother but try not to interfere in their lives. They can’t rely on the bank of mum and dad forever and, perhaps when they realise that, they’ll start taking more responsibility.

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