Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi Carolyn: I am a new mom of a baby girl. My in-laws are having a second child, their first was a boy. They have started making statements in earshot of us such as, “We’re just glad there’s both sexes in the family so we won’t have to buy new.” This has happened so many times now I suspect it is on purpose to set the expectation.
I know a lot of people wouldn’t care but, honestly, I just don’t want to share my daughter’s clothes yet. We want to have more children and I’m not ready to hand them over even if I’d get them back. Maybe it is selfish but I guess I want to be selfish! I did not and would never ask for their child’s things. But my husband and I also have higher incomes.
My husband feels the same as me. Can we refuse or should we give over the clothes?
Don’t Want to Share
You always “can” refuse. You can also decide that comments made within earshot don’t constitute a request for anything, except perhaps attention. Do they actually do that, say things to “set” an “expectation”? Or do you think that because you do so yourselves?
Anyway, IF you are asked outright by grown-ups using their words, then you can get (mostly) what you want and still be a good sport if you say straight out that there are things you want to hold onto for sentimental reasons, but you’re willing to share others – because surely there are some basics you aren’t particularly attached to?
If it’s the whole load that you don’t want to share, then so be it – you are of course entitled to hold on to your things just because they’re yours, and technically they should respect that and not judge you for it.
They shouldn’t even be asking if they aren’t ready to take no for an answer.
Reality and the word “should” have a relationship that’s touch-and-go at best, though, so you have to expect they'll harrumph about you.
It helps to figure out beforehand whether that would change your decision.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.