Ask Amy: Train gift may derail friendship

Dear Amy: About eight years ago, I gave my 4-year-old godson a train set for Christmas. He enjoyed it and we played with it together for several years. He eventually outgrew it.

Now, he is 12. He recently discovered the train set in the closet. He wanted to sell it to get money to buy some AirPods, which cost about what he could get for the train set. So, with his parents’ help, he put it online, sold it, and got the AirPods.

I think this is great! I believe that once you give a gift, it is theirs to do with as they please, and it does not bother me.

The problem is, my wife of four years does not agree. She thinks it was extremely rude of my godson and his parents to sell a personal gift that I got him for Christmas without at least consulting me about it.

I told my wife that even though it might have been nice for them to tell me that they were going to do this, I honestly do not care.

I am worried that my wife is going to say something about this to my godson’s parents (she has indicated that she will).

We socialize with them often (they are one of very few in our pandemic circle). I don’t want her to create hard feelings.

Not only that, if it does come to that, should I side with my friends because I agree with them, causing my wife to be mad at me, or side with my wife, even though I disagree, just to make a more harmonious home?

— In a Quandary

Dear in a Quandary: I have an idea: How about your wife keep her thoughts to herself, thereby ensuring both a solid friendship, as well as a harmonious home?

This is the very essence of “none of her business.” Your relationship with your godson predates your relationship with your wife. It is separate from your wife. You have every right to conduct your relationship with the boy the way you choose to. Furthermore, I happen to agree with your stance regarding the gift. It was not a family heirloom. It has been recycled, and now another child will enjoy it.

If your wife has the gall to bring this up to the boy’s parents in your presence, you should say to her, “Well, I completely disagree with you, as I made clear when we discussed this before. When I give a gift, I believe the person who receives it should do whatever they want with it.”

If your wife wants a harmonious home, perhaps she shouldn’t judge and confront friends about their parenting, or harshly judge your godparenting.

And because this is a godchild question, I’ll throw out a favorite admonition from the Bible: “Be a cheerful giver!” You have done so, and good for you.

Dear Amy: I have only one living sibling. She spent most of our adult years manipulating our mother to get more than her share of money, jewelry, family antiques, at times resorting to lies and even theft. She seldom called me, never visited, and left me with the lion’s share of eldercare.

Now she is lonely, her marriage is on the rocks, and her kids are estranged or troubled.

I invited her to visit, twice, but found her unchanged. She is still selfish and sneaky.

Now she wants to move here and join my close circle of friends and family. “Family first” has been my creed, but I’m not feeling it for her.

How can I say no?

— Worried

Dear Worried: You cannot prevent your sister from moving to town, but you can definitely try to prepare her for reality by saying, “I hope you understand that moving will probably not be the solution to your problems. I’m not prepared to meet your needs.”

If this sister is a master manipulator and boundary-crosser, you will have to work hard to establish and frequently reinforce boundaries. Put the word “no” into your vocabulary and be prepared to use it.

Dear Amy: Was it really necessary for you to quote bigoted and misguided racists as referring to themselves as “White Christians”? If they were Christians and had read the Bible, they would know that Christ looks at the heart, not skin color.

— Disappointed

Dear Disappointed: I thought it was important to let these people reveal themselves.

And, I could be wrong, but I don’t think there are any White people in the Bible.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)


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