People usually try to solve the conflicts between family members as peacefully and respectfully as possible. However, in certain situations, we expect the response to be somewhat proportionate to the person’s behavior that triggered it. In other words, we try to take it easy until we suddenly find ourselves in a situation where not taking it easy seems the only appropriate reaction. This father found himself in exactly such a position when his wife was ashamed of the present her stepson handcrafted for her birthday.

More info: Reddit

15 Y.O. made a wooden tree with family names on it, but his stepmother asked him to not bring the present to her party

Image credits: Dark Dwarf (not the actual photo)

This man’s wife failed to appreciate his son’s self-made gift, so he canceled the birthday party he planned for her

Image credits: dice267990

Image credits: Tam Tam (not the actual photo)

Image credits: Tam Tam (not the actual photo)

The man’s wife went off on him for outright canceling her birthday over such a ‘trivial thing’

Image credits: bradleypjohnson (not the actual photo)

The woman claimed she lost all her respect for the man and left the house

This man’s family situation revolves around his 15 Y.O. son’s gift to his stepmother. The gift might be called symbolic for several reasons: first, the boy made it himself and put his effort into doing it. Second, he made a wooden tree with his family members’ names written on it, which, like its prototype, a regular tree, is a well-known symbol of connection.

Unfortunately, this boy’s stepmother found the gift before he could even give it to her. So what she did was to tell the boy that while she thought it was a sweet gift, he shouldn’t bring it to the restaurant and give it to her there, as she found the gift ridiculous and did not want the guests to see it in the prestigious restaurant they were going to for her birthday celebration, as she later explained to her husband.

When talking to his wife, the man told her she should be ashamed, but she reassured him she wasn’t ashamed nor embarrassed for not wanting the gift to be seen at the party. This made the boy’s father very angry and he told her to not worry about the gift being seen, as he had decided to cancel the whole thing anyway. 

This, of course, pissed his wife off, as what started the issue from the very beginning was that the woman had zero appreciation either for the gift itself or for the boy’s effort making it, and finally, caring more about what other people would think rather than how it might affect people close to her. 

When it comes to the gift itself, it might be hard to judge how good it is without taking a look at it. Certain notes can still be made, keeping in mind that handmade things can be discussed distinguishing two aspects – the idea and its execution. When it comes to the gift’s execution, the boy’s father explained that his son has some background in arts that involve wood, as he helped his grandfather with woodworking. It is also where he picked up the idea of making wooden items and using them as gifts.

And when it comes to the idea, the idea of giving your stepmother a symbol of connection, while not everyone’s favorite, is certainly worthy of a certain respect. Not seeing value in a gift that embodied the idea of a connection between the family members, including the kid’s grandfather, being given by a child who lost his mother to his stepmother, does sound like something that might cause that child great disappointment.

The initial conflict might be summed up by what this man’s wife had to say in response to her husband cancelling her birthday celebration. She said that the man was being unreasonable by cancelling her birthday party over such a ‘trivial thing’. For this woman, the boy’s gift, which contained all the discussed aspects, was a trivial thing, which showed her approach to her relationship with the man’s son – she did not care. 

Image credits: Studio Sarah Lou (not the actual photo)

It might be asked if the man was right to cancel the celebration, as his wife was furious and claimed she lost respect for him and even left the house, while her mother called him a jerk for treating her daughter like this. However, the woman made no effort to see this man’s point neither because there was a lot she overlooked and it was a family issue, nor simply because it mattered to her husband.

In their study “Understanding the Value of Gift”, Liu Ruo-Ling and Goh Yi-Sheng discuss the cultural phenomenon of exchanging gifts, which “serves as a vehicle of symbolic communication in interpersonal relationships and plays an important role in maintaining social ties”. They distinguish different aspects of gift value as seen from both the gift receiver’s and gift giver’s perspective.

Ruo-Ling and Yi-Sheng note that while gift value has many layers, how both sides perceive a certain gift strongly affects the present and future of their relationship. While good gifts tend to strengthen the relationship, bad gifts tend to weaken or even cut it off. 

Authors cite Wolfinbarger while discussing the personal or expressive value of a gift, making a point that: “gifts are richer in the symbolic meanings than in the material benefits they transfer”. According to him, the gift mirrors the giver’s view of himself, the receiver and their relationship. The gift often gets valued higher when conveying a certain message or having a symbolic meaning.

Another aspect when determining the value of a certain gift as discussed by the scholars was the investment in the amount of time and effort or gift’s price, which is often perceived as adding value to the gift. According to Belk’s study, people prefer handcrafted items for the effort put into making them, especially when the gift giver is also the one who made it.

Finally, as the gift is a manifestation of the relationship between the giver and receiver, the gift’s appropriateness will depend on how both sides understand their relationship in terms of the level of commitment and duration of their relationship. “For example, to give a ring as a gift at a first date would be perceived as too extreme or extravagant at the stage of a newly built relationship, which is therefore perceived to be inappropriate.”

All in all, the boy’s stepmother, unfortunately, failed to see his self-made gift from the perspectives of symbolism, effort investment, or creating and maintaining a certain type of relationship; or, which would be even more unfortunate, could see it, but did not want to have such ties associated with her stepson. Either way, having all the aspects in mind, the father’s disappointment and his response seem reasonable.

Redditors were united in backing this man as his wife’s behavior was cruel and shallow rather than kind: