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Don't Raise Ungrateful Kids

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The Meanest Mom: Want to help your child get in good with his friend/teacher/grandparent/distant uncle? Encourage him/her to do something that no one else does: write thank you notes for the holiday gifts he/she received this year.

child receiving gift

"What?" you say incredulously.

I know it's a foreign concept, but stay with me:

We live in a society of entitlement. Our children have grown up in a culture that has taught them that they not only deserve gifts (not only for holidays and birthdays, but also for simply 'being special') but that it is privilege and honor for people to give them things. Heartfelt appreciation for simple acts of thoughtfulness is, sadly, becoming a thing of the past. These days, gift givers are lucky if they get anything more than a perfunctory "thanks" for their generosity, and way too many don't even get that.

Writing a thank you note (or drawing a picture if your child is too young to write) is a simple but effective way for your child to demonstrate his/her appreciation for the generosity extended to him/her by others. Just because no one else writes thank you notes doesn't mean that it's okay for your child not to either.

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6 comments so far | Post a comment now
jodi January 4, 2009, 2:16 PM

I cannot agree with this writer more, and am saddened to say that I’m pretty much the only mom in our circle who insists that my children write thank-you notes for gifts. Unfortunately, the adults are no better (or else their kids would be taught to do the right thing): in recent months I’ve attended one 40th birthday party and two 50th birthday parties, without a single expression of acknowledgment or thanks from any of the women honored for the thoughtfully chosen presents I brought (never mind the additional cash spent for babysitting). I know I shouldn’t let it affect how I think about these people, but it does. It’s disrespectful and ungracious, among other things. We’re all so stressed out about giving our kids what they need in a tough economy — how ‘bout giving them something for free that will pay huge dividends for life: teaching them manners!!

Jean Bentley (SenderOfCards) January 4, 2009, 4:07 PM

My kids are 21 and 23 they grew up sending out Thank you notes and seeing me do the same. Did they like it? No, not normally, but once they got started they liked coming up with something personal to say in each one. Just saying thank you for the gift wasn’t enough, they had to mention the gift specifically and say something nice about it.

Thankfully, both of them usually write them on their own. It is such a simple thing, so easy to do, and it makes the giver of the gift feel great that their gift was appreciated. They even get calls to thank them for the “Thank You” card.

Chase January 4, 2009, 4:16 PM

Thank you for posting this. My girls are two and eight months so the little one didn’t do much in the way of actually writing but…I wrote notes in their “voices” and mailed them the day after Christmas…haven’t received notes from anyone else but I feel good knowing the example is set.

My sister in law actually commented during the big family gift exchange (as I was frantically scribbling down which aunt/uncle/cousin gave which girl what) -
“Who writes thank you notes for Christmas? It’s a gift exchange!”

That made the hair on the back of my neck rise. Seriously, it doesn’t take long to do and is the only proper thing to do. My mother told me two days after the birth of my first daughter that she was giving me a year “pass” on needing to write notes for my daughter’s gifts since I would be so busy with the baby. I tried to take her up on it but felt guilty! :)

Ju February 24, 2009, 7:02 PM

The two first words my daughter learned after Mommy(in both Korean and English) and Daddy was “please” and “thank you”. People are constantly surprised by how polite she is and she often gets free little trinkets for being so polite (an extra snack along with the one purchased) which she also thanks them for. We haven’t gotten to thank you cards yet, but everyone is enchanted by the “please” and “thank you” and she is often complimented on how sweet and polite she is. For her 3rd birthday, we will have her do thank you cards.

Cassandra March 4, 2009, 6:46 PM

I love this blog! Manners does not seem to be considered an important value these days. Children do tend to have a sense of entitlement, unfortunately that includes my kids at times. I do my best to teach them to be grateful though. Please and Thank You are some of the first words we teach them. And everytime they have a birthday or when they get lots of presents at Christmas, I take them in their room and make them choose some toys to give to children in need. My oldest son, who is 6, also has chores he has to do every week and we keep a chore chart where he earns points. The chart also has his goals with a note beside each one of something he wants. When he reaches his goal he gets his prize. We do this so he can start to learn the value of money.

Xnycizpq June 28, 2009, 3:23 PM

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