thank you

pet peeve alert. pet peeve alert.

yesterday, i had a wonderful lunch with a friend i hadn’t seen since i was a teenager. sometimes, there are people in life who you may not see for years and years, but when you do get together, it’s as if you hadn’t seen them since just last tuesday. one of the many things we discussed (besides every single person we remembered from our hometown and how i  apparently tried to kill a yule log in college, which is a whole other matter) was the concept of thank you notes.

(stay with me, even though i know i am the queen of non sequitors.)

see, when i was little, my mom drummed into my head that i was responsible for writing a thank you note whenever someone gave me a present. it didn’t have to be a novel (though, as i was verbose even as a child, it often wound up as one), but just something to acknowledge the kindness of the person for thinking of me. to this day, i eventually get around to thanking people, whether by note, email, or pigeon. it’s an ingrained habit; and i also think it’s simply the right thing to do. i often get very busy, but i do make an effort to at least get the word out.

now that i have children, i am trying to do the same. sure, one doesn’t write much at the moment beyond a few sight words he has learned in kindergarten; but i do try to put the kids on the phone or at least sign their names to thank you cards i have written.  i want them to understand that they are not simply entitled to things; in fact, i want them to learn that someone took the time to think of them and do something nice for them or get them a present. that person didn’t have to do anything — but he or she did. and so, it is my child’s obligation to be humble and appreciative.

or, in the words of my wonderful mother-in-law, we give gifts graciously, and we receive gifts graciously. (she and my mom went to the same mom school on this, i think.)

where am i going with this, you may ask.

i am saddened by the interactions i have had with so many younger people lately. i am saddened because i hear in their voices and in their words a sense of entitlement:

because my parents have money, i should have money, too.

because i finished college, i should immediately start out in a high-paying job with huge responsibilities.

because everyone else in the pop world seems to have clothes, bling, cars, etc., i of course am entitled to these, too, whether i’ve worked for them or not.

i smile knowingly, as i am not in any position to actually criticize people i don’t know well. but behind my smile is a mom who wants to scream.

see, i’m a left-of-center gal, so i do believe there are things people are entitled to have. things like food. shelter. safety. love. health care. rights, and a political system that respects them.

but beyond the basics, i don’t have a lot of empathy. in fact, this sense that the world owes you every material success seems to be rampant and infectious. i want my kids to understand that there are so many people in the world who don’t have the basics, let alone the latest sneakers or the hottest car. i want my kids to be as grateful as i am for all the things we have and for all that we are to each other.  i can’t stand the thought that some of their friends may one day impress upon them that they are owed more than they have earned. those friends will be doing them a great disservice. those friends need to learn a thing or two about gratitude, something they don’t necessarily grasp.

and perhaps its  in part because they didn’t have a mom who forced them to write thank you notes.


9 Responses to “thank you”

  1. Bravo! (And it’s hard in today’s society. There are quite the brats out there today. *sigh* Darned lazy parents that just throw presents at their kids rather than spending time with them or *gasp* discipline them.)

  2. Oh I am SO with you on this one! Common courtesy, respect, and appreciation are important to us.

    For example, when my kids are ready to leave a birthday party, they’ve been taught to wish their friend Happy Birthday AND tell the parents, “Thank you for inviting me”. I must say, they’re usually the only ones! The other kids grab their goodie bags and dash out the door. It’s a shame. It’s rude. What’s the rush? It only takes a second to say thanks.

    Sue’s right. It’s lazy parents who look the other way instead of putting in the time and effort of teaching their kids or even (brace yourself) leading by example.

  3. First of all..I swear every generation gets tagged with the “entitlement” label. I know my parents lamented the same thing about my own! I sometimes wonder if it is also partly an age related mentality. Because despite me working my ass off every day for my oldest and also making HIM work with chores and such (and write those thank you notes), he is still, at 23, a huge bundle of unmotivated, seemingly ungrateful (not in your face, just missing the little things he could do to make me feel more appreciated), young adult who thinks it’s ok to just “take breaks” from working now and then.
    IOW – leading by example and teaching your kids is still no guarantee.

    Secondly…here is what will happen with younger son this winter break. He is already showing signs of Not Getting It. And I think that part of it is that he has NO CLUE of what it takes to make his own days possible. So I am having him spend one day in my shoes. Start to finish. Hopefully that will open his eyes enough to realize that his current portion of the family team work load is pretty damn light and he’d better start fulfilling his end of the deal (like, hey, how about doing your homework and cleaning out that litter box without any fuss?)

    I don’t disagree with everyone saying “Ugh! kids these days!”, but given that I feel like I have raised two different generations of kids…both really were the same. Parents are not any lazier now than they were 10-15 years ago, I promise.

  4. point well taken on the generational “kids these days” thing. i guess that has been going on since the cavemen. still, then, maybe there’s something else in combination with the parenting? i’m sure the media plays a big role here, too.

    i gotta think about this. it’s a tough undertow to fight.

  5. I see this sense of entitlement in the class room often. I blame the parents as much as the kids. I can’t believe all the bling parents buy their children: game systems, iPods, cars, lap tops…it’s crazy.

  6. Ugh. My guilty conscience is tugging at me uncomfortably. Thank you notes are the bane of my existence. Does it shock you that I’ve found myself wishing that people wouldn’t send gifts for the birth of a new baby? I barely find time to shower, my to do list is out of control, and the only way I find any time to sit down and write at all is to stay up too late for my own good. (Exhibit A: It is now about 1:30 a.m.)

    That being said, I will write the damn things one of these days. Probably after feeling tormented by them for months.

  7. As an “older” parent I think that a major problem today is that peer pressure was handled differently in the so called old days. Today there are so many parents who want to be their kids friends that they deny them nothing If one kid has something the other kid says why not me . I think the answer used to be ” just because (fill in the blank) has it doesn’t mean you can. Unfortunely now the answer too often is yes because we don’t want our kids to be deprived. (and no longer be our buddy) Having said that , it still doesn’t absolve kids for part of the blame.

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