'Before I get torn to shreds.' A handmade baby gift and the beginning of a family dilemma.

Earlier this week, a daughter-in-law (DIL) reached out to the Mamamia community asking for advice on how to avoid hurting her mother-in-law's feelings over a handmade gift she had no desire to keep.

Olivia* shared she had received baby hangers made by her mother-in-law (MIL), along with "various other handmade items... that she kindly let me know she was making for our baby."

Unfortunately, Olivia wasn't a fan of the gift.

"How do I politely let my mother-in-law know I do not want these?" the expectant mother wrote in her post. "Or do I have to just suck it up and get them out of a box every time she comes over?"

Olivia asked how to avoid upsetting her MIL over handmade coat hangers. Image: Supplied.


"Before I get torn to shreds, I appreciate the love and effort that has gone into it. She is an amazing mother-in-law [and] these handmade gifts she gives are my only complaint. I just care about the items I bring into my house. 

"How have others handled these situations? I know it is extremely exciting for her as this will be her first grandchild and I don’t want to hurt her… but I hate them and really don’t want them anymore."

Olivia shared the preferred aesthetic for her baby's wardrobe. Image: Supplied.


The post struck a chord as it quickly garnered almost 500 comments. Immediately, others rushed in to offer their opinions — and the overwhelming consensus was that Olivia should not say a word.

"Hurt feelings last a lot longer than baby-sized coat hangers," one parent wrote, while another acknowledged how the expectant mother might feel, but still encouraged her not to say anything.

"The value this brings to her life, making handmade items, and feeling useful far outweighs the 'ick'," she wrote. "I totally get how you feel, but funnily enough, it’s the little things that may be hard to get rid of one day."

Another comment read, "Those hangers might be ugly but they are super handy for kids clothes. The clothes don’t slip off and normal hangers are too big for kid clothes. Also, your house is about to get covered in multi-coloured plastic crap that will become the bane of your existence, might as well roll with it!"

Other people told Olivia to steer her MIL into a direction that would benefit both of them.

"If she is knitting them herself, offer to buy the wool in the colour scheme you prefer," a comment said. "If she has knitting patterns go through her books and select those you like. Hand-knitted items are made with love and appreciation."


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Video via Mamamia.

Carly Dober, a psychologist at Enriching Lives Psychology, says dealing with sensitive topics with family is always a tricky topic.

"Everyone has different temperaments, personalities, and ways that they can show love," she tells Mamamia. "Without knowing much about the mother-in-law, I think it’s important to understand how much care, time and thought goes into homemade gifts."

However, it's not always sustainable to gift people things they don't need or want — even if they are homemade or "made with love".

"I think if the daughter-in-law does chat to the mother-in-law about the gift, I’d strongly encourage tact and an invitation that keeps the relationship between them in connection," Carly continues, adding that it is important to acknowledge the effort that went into the gift.

"She could then say something like, 'It is such a thoughtful gift, and while not to my taste — I absolutely adore how much you were thinking of me when you made these," she explains.

Of course, there's always the risk of offending someone, even when treading lightly.


"There is the risk of offending the mother-in-law if you do say something, but also the risk of receiving an unwanted gift like this every single year that just goes to waste plus the MIL doesn't get to learn about the DIL’s taste," she says. "It's a wasted opportunity."

"You could also chat with your partner and any other relevant family members who know the mother-in-law to get a better understanding of how she receives feedback about this kind of thing to better inform your decision-making," Carly adds.

To keep the relationship between the MIL and Olivia strong, Carly encourages "the invitations for connection."

"Explain to the mother-in-law what you enjoy doing and invite her along," she says. "For example, if she is creative and so are you, you could invite her to go to a paint and sip class or a ceramics class. 

"If she enjoys shopping, you enjoy shopping — you could go shopping together and get to know each other’s personal styles and talk about it. You could just spend some quality time together really getting to know one another and doing something special for her to show her she is valuable and wanted in your life. 

"Life is about managing the inevitable ruptures that occur in all of our relationships."

What would you do in this situation? Tell us in the comments section below.

* Names have been changed to maintain privacy.

Feature Image: Getty.

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