Should I be expected to give gifts to extended family members who have never done the same for my family?

Modern Parent

I feel torn about what to do for my niece's graduation. On one hand, I want to congratulate her and celebrate her achievement, but on the other hand, I don't want to give a gift to her family who has never reciprocated my family's gifts or even remembered our children's birthdays. It's frustrating to feel like we're not important enough for them to remember, yet they expect us to remember and celebrate their milestones.

I used to give thoughtful gifts to their children before we had kids of our own, but when I realized it wasn't being reciprocated, I gradually stopped. I figured they weren't interested in exchanging gifts, which was fine by me because I don't want to be materialistic. However, I still loved and doted on their children when we saw them.

I know gifts aren't their strong suit, but it's frustrating that they don't remember our children's birthdays or milestones. For example, I hosted my SIL's baby shower and gave them a nice gift from their registry. However, when it was my turn to have a baby shower, they attended but didn't bring a gift. Another time, we exchanged gifts for the holidays, and I shopped for their family of five from a list they sent me. However, I received a raincheck because my SIL ran out of time shopping and didn't follow up later. She has also asked for gift ideas for my kids in the past but never followed through.

Their material standards are high, though. When they lived abroad for a few years, my SIL had her online shopping delivered to our address in the US to pick up when they visited. It was endless packages of high-end stuff. They even invited us on a trip to celebrate my BIL's 40th birthday, but the hotel was $1400 a night, which I couldn't believe was for real. We didn't go.

So, with all that history, I'm not sure what to do for my niece's graduation. It's not like we're close with her, and we haven't even seen her in years because they live out of state. I'm sure they're going to have a big celebration, and I feel like it's expected that we send something. But at the same time, it doesn't feel right to give a gift when we don't receive anything in return and don't feel important enough to be remembered. It's like we're an afterthought to them.

I didn't grow up with extended family sending me gifts for everything, so it doesn't feel like a big deal to skip. But it's hard to know what the right thing to do is in this situation. Maybe I should send a card and a small gift as a gesture of congratulations, but not go overboard. That way, I can acknowledge my niece's achievement without feeling like I'm going all out for a family who doesn't seem to care about our family in return.

What do you think?

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