Overly Generous In-Laws

Alisa wants to know how to receive gifts from people who can't afford to give them. Dave thinks it's probably not wise for Alisa to take it on as the daughter-in-law.

QUESTION: Alisa in Utah wants to know how to receive gifts from people who can’t afford to give them. Dave thinks it’s probably not wise for Alisa to take it on as the daughter-in-law and recommends asking her husband to say something.

ANSWER: I think this is so ingrained in this family’s DNA and their family script that for the daughter-in-law to take this on is probably not wise. I would think the only one who has any ground to say anything to them is your husband—their son. You need to talk through with him what your family’s stance on this is. If he’s in agreement with you, then he needs to talk to his parents—not you. You don’t need to say anything to them. He needs to talk to his parents.

That’s a fair thing for him to do. Just say, “Mom and Dad, we’re trying to get out of debt. We’re observing where you are, and while we really appreciate your generosity, it makes us feel unbelievably uncomfortable because we know you don’t have the money to give us this stuff. We don’t feel good accepting it. It’s not that we’re not grateful. It’s that we don’t need the stuff, and we certainly know you can’t afford to give it.” He needs to say that. There’s not anything you can say to them.