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Elder Wisdom Circle

Christmas Presents

| Sande Caplin |

Elder Wisdom Circle is a nationwide network of volunteers aged 60-105, who offer caring and personal advice based on their own experiences. They are a nonprofit service, and all advice is free. Please visit them online at

Original Letter

HI a little background.  My hubby and I have been married 26 years and have one 25 year old son between us who lives 5 minutes away and has a 3 yr old daughter.  My husband has a 36 year old daughter from another marriage and she has two kids and lives near us.  He also has two sons.  One is in the army and we never see and the other is the oldest and lives about 3 hours away.

his oldest son is the one my question pertains to.  He is 38, divorced and has one 5 year old son, our grandson.  We do not see this grandson very often and have made several attempts to get them to visit and they are always busy and I admit because of that we have not made too many attempts to drive to them.  He moved in with a woman right after his divorce who has 4 kids of her own.  

We have met them twice.  Nice kids but we just don’t know them at all.  I tried to get them all together for Christmas at our house but everyone seemed too busy so since I knew I wouldn’t see our grandson I sent him a Christmas present.  I got a message through Facebook from my stepson saying thanks for the gift for him but if I didn’t sent presents to his girlfriends 4 kids then don’t send any to my grandson.  So my question is do I send presents to the other 4 kids.  They are not married and like I said I have only met them twice.
Thank you very much
Elder Response

This is a tough call. While I understand that your son would want all of the children to be included in gift-giving, as you say, your relationship is with your grandson and you haven’t seen the others enough to establish a real relationship with them. Your son probably shouldn’t have written what he did, and he may have been motivated by his girlfriend’s displeasure at her kids being excluded. But, if you take a step back, maybe you can see this situation in another way. This can be the start of your establishing a relationship with all these other children, whether or not your son stays with their mother. Even though the others aren’t related to you, they are children and they deserved to be cared about.
Maybe you can think of one present that all of them can share, like a game or movie or something they can all do outside together.  I don’t know the ages of the other four, but hopefully, the age spread isn’t that great, and most of them will be able to enjoy what you send.  Children aren’t responsible for the problems adults create, but they are affected by them. So just focus on the joy you are giving to these kids. Your own grandson will always be there for you to love and care about as the years go by. That relationship won’t be impacted by your including the others.

Best Regards,

Elder ReneeRenee is a Realtor in the Washington, DC area.  She also has a home in Bradenton, FL.  She is married, with three children and five grandchildren. Her website is

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