Dear Annie: My wife and I feel we are being taken advantage of by our family and friends.
I think we have gone over and above with acts of kindness. Some family members don’t even talk to us, let alone acknowledge birthdays and holidays. When we went to church recently, the theme of the pastor’s homily was that as you give to others, so you will be rewarded.
I have just about had it. The more we do, the less respected we are and the more we are taken advantage of.
— Feeling Used
Dear Feeling Used: Giving should come from wanting to give and the sense of joy you get when you see someone smile in response to your kind acts.
Still, if you feel like you are crossing mountains for your friends and they are barely stepping over a log in the forest for you, it might be time to set some clear boundaries about what you will and won’t do.
There is nothing mean about saying no sometimes. The meanest thing you can do is overextend yourself so that you feel resentful. Then you won’t be of service to anyone, especially those closest to you — your family and friends.
Dear Annie: I need to know: What is it with people who don’t reply in any way, shape or form — no phone call, email, text or old-fashioned thank-you card — for birthday gifts? For years, I have been giving one particular family of three boys generous birthday checks or gift cards. I have yet to get any sort of thank-you.
When the boys were younger, I knew that task fell to their parents, which they never performed. But now that all three of the boys are older and way savvier with technology than I am — and also have their own computers, tablets and cellphones — I still don’t get thanked.
You’d think their parents would give them the address or phone number they need in order to acknowledge a birthday gift that has been arriving on every birthday since they were born.
— Just Don’t Get It
Dear Just Don’t Get It: These boys are the ones who just don’t get it. And this situation clearly started with the parents. It is the parents’ job to teach their children to show appreciation, and if this important lesson wasn’t taught to them when they were young, it’s no surprise they aren’t showing gratitude as grown adults.
If you really care about continuing to have a relationship with them, you might want to jokingly ask, “Did you get my birthday gifts?” Sending thank-you notes is a nice courtesy to family members, and it’s just plain good manners. By being straightforward and talking with them, you could point out that there are many stories about people who were hired for their dream job because they wrote great thank-you notes after an interview. What you appreciate appreciates.
Annie Lane, a graduate of New York Law School and New York University, writes this column for Creators Syndicate. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.