Minerva's Breakdown 

Advice for those on the verge

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Divine Miss M,

I married a man with adult children. For the first few years we celebrated every holiday and birthday. But as time went on his children stopped giving birthday gifts to us (I never expected any) and stopped doing anything for him on Father's Day. Rarely do they even send a card. Instead he may get a brief text. The only time these events are acknowledged is if I put an event together and pay for everything. The kicker is they still, as adults, expect birthday gifts and they always celebrate their mother's birthday and Mother's Day. Looking for advice on how to be gracious and not look like total jerks when the gift giving stops!

Sincerely,

—Can't Have Your Cake and Eat it Too

Dear Can't,

Has your husband mentioned any tension in his relationships with his children? If there are unresolved issues around their childhood it could account for the behavior. Are his adult children struggling financially? Often a lack of gift giving is economically driven versus a lack of thoughtfulness. No one should expect to receive gifts. However, I believe that we give gifts because it is in our hearts to do so, not because it is a requirement or expectation. The desire to give should not be guided by the expectation to receive. If you and your husband decide to cease giving, be straightforward as to the reasons why and that—whether they mean to or not—they are hurting their father's feelings. Good luck.

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