I sympathize with the frustration: We send our grown kids and grandkids gifts and we get nothing tangible in return--not a word of thanks, no less an "I love it!" It may be that in these days of social distancing from our loved ones, the need to hear a thanks looms even larger. Pandemic or no, I hear about the thank you issue--or lack thereof--all the time.
So does Philip Galanes over at Social Qs. "For years, every week has brought at least one new variation on this letter," he writes. The letter in question comes from a reader who sends her daughter monetary gifts that have long gone unacknowledged; she wonders whether it’s time to stop sending them, especially since the gifts are a strain on her budget.
Galanes starts by saying that the "central question is by far the one I hear most often. I’ve answered it a few times: We give gifts out of love, not to be thanked; speak up gently; if this really bothers you, stop sending gifts."
But this time Galanes doesn't rest there. He's interested in exploring the root of the problem: Why does this keep happening--to this reader and to many of us. Here's his answer:
My new theory: If a parent (or uncle or grandmother) sends a gift, year after year, without any acknowledgment from the recipient, maybe the recipient doesn’t experience it as a gift. Maybe your daughter and the others see these presents as their entitlement, like stock dividends or Social Security checks. The fact that the gifts keep coming, without further action, supports their belief.
That doesn't change the basics of his advice: Ask your child or grandchild to be more thoughtful. If they can’t be, trade the checks for greeting cards.