Tuesday Topic: How do you Handle Gifts?


Today’s question is from Bonnie who asks,

Well-meaning people, without asking us first, from church, doctor’s offices, or family, give gifts or food to our kids from Haiti (we have never had this with our two older adopted girls, and they feel snubbed sometimes).  Some of these gifts are inappropriate for their developmental abilities and we are caught having to be the “bad guys” and take them away.

Any ideas?

This is a really interesting question, and I look forward to your responses. Have you experienced this with your children? What are your thoughts?

Take a moment to encourage one another and share your experiences. We would love to hear from you.

If you have a Tuesday Topic question, email it to me at lisa@onethankfulmom.com  Please put “Tuesday Topic” in the subject line so it doesn’t get buried in the recesses of my inbox.

You are such an amazing group of wise parents; I appreciate you, friends.

encourage one another,


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. RussAnita Olson
    October 6, 2015

    YES… I have wanted to put them in a t-shirt that says " please ask before giving me anything " – I think it's a normal struggle. I just had to learn to say no, politely, when it really matters. If it doesn't really matter, just bugs me, I ask for them to share with everyone. "thanks, but our family rule is that we share treats. So unless you have enough for everyone, I'm going to ask that you not give "Suzy" a candy bar." If it does matter, a candy bar will send them into a meltdown at dinner, then I ask if it's something we can have for later, or save for the next time we see them. It is hard, because once they've seen the candy -then we are bad guys. I try to catch it before we get to that point. I also asked that 'gifts' of toys, were donated to their sunday school classroom. I think I was polite, but I'd say something like "Wow, thank you. We have chosen to keep everything, including toys really few and simple at our house. But "Suzy" would love to pass this onto her Sunday School Teacher and she can enjoy it there." We found this has died down after the first year. Probably because people knew I might say no, and it might be awkward for them.

  2. sophie
    October 6, 2015

    The children are free to accept anything that is offered to them but they know that it will have to pass the mommy test (rarely happens) and it will have to be saved until Sunday.
    If the "gift" does not pass the test, it is traded for an "upgraded" option from the natural food store.

    It has worked so well for us that the kids say "no thanks" and ask for a better option for the coming Sunday.

    We do the same for Halloween.
    They know they can collect as many candy as they wish. Those candies will be donated and they will be traded for a few "better ones".

  3. Erika
    October 13, 2015

    This is a huge struggle for me. I hate when people give my kids generous gifts but want to be thankful for the love behind it. I know they don't know the baggage a simple bag of candy brings up. So hard…

  4. Krissy
    November 4, 2015

    We struggle with this mostly with food. We finally broke down and just received a doctors note to share with anyone if we needed to. For Halloween they collect candy then trade it for new legos and homemade candy they can have (our youngest is on the Ketogenic/anti seizure diet).

    Many friends/family who have known us for a while are very kind about asking first, yet sadly some are not. And some try to even sneak it to our kids anyway or with it in hand ask us IN FRONT OF THE KIDS because, 'Every kid deserves candy." or "I deserve to be able to give them this, I am their such and such after all."

    But what I think they don't understand is that we have been with our less than optimal son for 6 years. For most of that time I was literally with him 24/7, I homeschool, we've had appointments with pediatric neuropsychologish, weekly (sometimes 3 times a week) appointments with the Occupational Therapist, Theraplay appointments, countless adoption trainings including 3 TRBI trainings with Empowered to Connect or the like, tons of pediatrician appointments and homeopathic appointments, multiple lab draws to know our childrens metabolism/neurochemistry and we even have set appointments with the nutritionist at St. Lukes Childrens hospital for every few months.

    We have a fairly firm grasp on what our son can/can't handle in that moment… (which is key because occasionally we will tell someone no to something at a particular time like the holidays that they may be able to have in an off season in moderation without a total melt down)

    I also think some people don't understand that we take the whole nervous system into consideration as well. We would never give him an 'extra' before school or before bed. EVER! We also know how much of that extra and what to do afterwards to keep it from blowing up in our face. While I can see how it's frustrating for people who want a strict law of ALWAYS AND NEVER for each particular item for every moment in time, and we can certainly do that for THEM, but as parents, we feel like we know the RARE exception to the rule.

    For me, bottom line, I think it's a trigger for me when people seem to want to compare my parenting (oftento their neurotypical child parenting), change my 'parenting' to fit their particular needs, or give me their 'solid advice' in a way that implies I'd be a fool not to take it…

    I sure wish people would respect and trust us as parents of our kiddos… I truly do want whats best for him and I've truly attempted to do my due diligence… 🙂

    God may I have the grace to love my husband and children and to show love and respect to those we rub elbows with, even if it has to be a loving 'no thank you please.'


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