No Thank You's or Acknowledgement ... Should I Feel Slighted?

Updated on August 09, 2011
L.S. asks from Chula Vista, CA
22 answers

Maybe this is a vent, but I would like to hear from you as this has been bothering me for awhile.

My brother and sister-in-law have 3 children. Sometimes we see them around the holidays and their birthdays, sometimes we don't. If we don't, I always still send them a card and gift. Same goes for sending one to my brother and SIL on their birthdays. I NEVER receive a thank you, a call, a note. Nada.

I was always raised that you acknowledge a gift. In fact, I was raised to send thank you cards and I do. Or a thank you email. But I acknowledge the gesture in one way or the other, maybe even a phone call. Something!

I'm really getting turned off by this and am almost to the point where if I don't see them in person for a birthday party, etc. then I feel like doing nothing. 2 of the 3 kids are at an age where they could also step up and call to say thanks.

The last few years, they've even forgotten my and my husband's birthday altogether, then remembered weeks later and mail a card, with no apology of it being belated or anything. That really hurt on my 40th.

I don't want to talk to them about it, either. I don't feel I should have to call and ask, "Oh, hey did you receive the gift??"

What would you ladies do?

update: (and yes, I'm teaching our daughter to acknowledge gifts; I really couldn't be complaining if I weren't :) And that's the thing ... how do I know they appreciate the gestures very much? I don't. In fact, I don't think they appreciate it or they would do the right thing and call! I don't really get joy out of purchasing gifts, I get joy out of knowing that someone liked it and appreciated it. Not knowing that in and of itself takes away any joy. Oh, and I might add that even if I did call, they don't call back. They don't answer emails, they don't answer phone calls, they don't answer texts, etc. As a family member, it's quite frustrating. What if there were an emergency?? My parents have even commented that they don't get back to them most of the time, either. I'm just kind of over the whole thing. I love my brother, but it is hard to be close with him and his family. We invite them places ahead of time, like a family outing at our lake, and when I call to confirm closer to the date, they've "forgotten" "never put it on the calendar" etc. So I stopped inviting them to get together. The whole thing kind of makes me sad -- and we live about 10 miles apart so not far at all!

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all of your responses, it really made me realize that my feelings of hurt are valid. Based on your comments, I can see that I'm not alone in this phenomenon of indifference. I also love the "attitude of gratitude" phrase; I"m going to remember that when I continue to teach our daughter about the value of thanking others. You ladies have made me feel a little bit better. Thank you and have a great weekend!!

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answers from Phoenix on

I teach my kids that if someone can take the time to give them a gift, they can spend the time writing a thank you note. Not only that, we are now working on the 6 components of a polite "thank you card": The greeting, expressing gratitude, discuss use of item, mention it will was nice to see the person or see them soon, then grace (another thank you) and then the regards.

I think manners is about making others feel valued and respected.

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answers from Chicago on

When my kids are too young to write their own bday thank you'd, we thank those who are present and call those who sent gifts.... At about 4 yo, we do thank you cards together for everyone- present at the party or not. Exceptions are baptism gifts etc, I ALWAYS send cards. Just good common manners. I think I'd be ticked too :) sounds like they just can't be bothered....

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answers from New York on

We must be related because I could have written your question about my husband's family. I have been thoughtfully choosing, wrapping, sending gifts/checks/gift cards/$$ to his nieces & nephews for 25 years and I have never once received even a verbal thank you (I'd settle for a text at this point). The joke between my husband and me is that our "thank you" is when they cash the check. I should also mention that my husband's sisters don't answer calls, emails or texts - ever. They never return calls and quite frankly, we someone could drop dead and they wouldn't know.
I make sure my daughter writes thank you notes. That's how I was raised. I'm in my 40's and my mother still asks if I remember to send a thank you note to relatives for gifts. Yes, Mom, you taught me well. I think it's such a shame when people don't teach their children to do this. It's common courtesy.

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answers from Norfolk on

Stop. Plain and simple. If they can't as least acknowledge that they received it, let alone express thanks, I say quit doing it.

We could accumulate far too many people on our gift & holiday lists if we don't occasionally weed it out. I would probably relegate these people to the Christmas Card List and nothing more.

*** ETA**** After reading your So What Happened, I would like to emphasize my advice to stop sending gifts. It seems fairly obvious that your brother's family is not interested in a "close" relationship. Believe it or not, sending gifts will only widen the gap. If you are invited to an event for the children (birthday, baptism, whatever) by all means, get the kids a gift, but don't expect acknowledgement. Otherwise, keep them on the Christmas card list and let your parents try to include them in family gatherings. If you keep trying and are met with resistance, it will only get worse. Trust me. I know from experience.

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answers from Austin on

I give gifts not for the thank yous, but because I like to give.. That being said, I at least want to know the gift was received, so I do call if I have not heard from anyone in that home...

The fact that even the adults do not send Thank you notes says it all.. How are the children supposed to know if their parents do not do this themselves?

Does your husband write all of his thank you notes?
I know my husband does not.. I do, so does our daughter, but my husbands family NEVER writes thank yous.. At least now with email I can send and email and just ask if the gifts were received.

This last Christmas my sister asked me to please give her son, my nephew personalized notes.. I gave him more exciting things as well as beautiful personalized cards and envelopes and a special pen. He was so excited.. He will be a junior in high school this year, so he wanted some more grown up notes..

Maybe this could be your next gift to them.. Maybe they do not have any thank you notes? Hee, hee..

Just call or email to make sure they were received and in the future keep your expectations low, they may surprise you.. I still give gifts to my inlaws, I just know they will never send a thank you..

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answers from San Francisco on

I am going through the same thing. It annoys me like crazy. I mail gifts to my nieces and receive no acknowledgment whatsoever! I end up sending emails and asking, "Did you receive the gift I sent to ______?" My sister-in-laws, both of them, have replied, "Yes, we got it." STILL NOT EVEN A THANK YOU!!! Anyway, I asked them if in the future when I mail a gift, if they could just let me know they've received it. My nieces, one is 13 and the other 2 are 11, are old enough to be able to send a thank you note. If not a note, even an email or a phone call would be better than nothing. I've never received a thank you! I've gotten so tired of it and really think I'm going to stop sending gifts to them. Bottom line, it shows they don't appreciate it anyway. It is up to their parents to teach them manners, which obviously they aren't doing. My daughter is 7 now. She's been writing thank you notes since she was about 4. At 4 she was only signing her name, but now the notes are several sentenes long. I've taught her that if someone has been thoughtful enough to think of her and give her a gift, then the least she could do is take 10 minutes of her time and send a thank you note.
I agree...I get NO joy out of purchasing gifts for these ungrateful people!
Maybe some of you misread L.'s post. I don't believe she expects a thank you for a birthday card...she mentions card and gift.
With computers/cell phones, etc. there is NO WAY people are too crazy busy to acknowledge or say thank you for a gift. It's plain inconsiderate and rude!

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answers from Miami on

Well you need to ask yourself are you sending those cards for them or for you. I'd never expect a thank you card from someone who I sent card. It would be nice for it to be acknowledged in maybe an Email. Yes they should acknowledge it. Are they crazy busy with life and work? If it bothers you stop sending them cards or gifts,

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answers from Chicago on

In the 10 years in which I have been a Godmother for my cousin's son, I have yet to receive any kind of acknowledment what-so-ever for any gifts or cards I have sent to him. Not the kid's fault, but my cousin's fault for being such a jerk.

What do I do? I keep sending the gifts and cards. Maybe one day when the kid is grown up he'll have a wife who can teach him about such things. I won't hold it against him.

ETA: My parents failed to teach me about "Thank You" notes, although I always did call people who sent birthday cards to me. My grandma kindly clued me in when I went away to college by buying me some personalized stationary, which happened to include personalized "Thank You" notes. Perhaps you could gift that for their next birthday/Christmas gifts??

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answers from Jacksonville on

It depends on how you will feel about it later on. Me, after a few non-acknowledgements, would just drop it and stop sending them. Your brother was brought up the same as you and knows better. Although he might be relying on his wife, it is still his place to make sure it happens. When the gifts stop coming, maybe he'll wonder why and a light will go on.
The kids are tougher. It isn't really their fault since they are only copying what they have learned (or rather NOT learned) from their parents. So you have to decide if you get enough joy out of the giving itself to continue it even if it is never acknowledged... or if not receiving any acknowledgement is a bigger issue that ruins it completely for you. If you can accept and put it aside that they don't acknowledge the gifts, then keep sending them if it brings you joy. If it doesn't, then stop.
OR, as for the kids, you could follow up with a phone call TO THEM (the kids) and ask them directly: "Did you receive ______?" Then you will a) know that your gift wasn't lost in the mail, and b) provide them with an opportunity to thank you. Will they learn it is good manners to do so? Who knows. Times are changing and it seems more and more parents fail to teach these basic social graces. It's a shame. It affects the way their children will be perceived in the world, and that can affect all kinds of things, right down to what sort of employment opportunities they may miss out on. Some people are so short sighted...

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answers from Springfield on

Well, what I would do is continue to do as you are. I would recognize that a) not everyone is going to be as mannered as we would like and b) regarding the kiddos, they clearly have not been raised to have manners when receiving gifts. These are excuses, yes, but valid ones.

I have family and friends that do this as well. It REALLY bugs me, but I don't change my giving personality based on them. Just realize they probably do appreciate the gifts very much, they just don't have the class to tell you.

Added : I do want to add, I would think you are COMPLETELY right in not sending any more gifts if you choose to do so! I just dont know that is the option I would choose, as your question asks. GOOD LUCK!!!

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answers from Colorado Springs on

If your nieces/nephews do not acknowledge gifts from you, it is because they have not been taught to do it. You shouldn't have to ask if they received the gift, but... you can always e-mail, "Did you ever get what I sent for your birthday, Jenny? I need to know whether I ought to go over to the Post Office and shout at those people."

There's a chance that you might not even get a response to that. In which case... I might forget to send something next year. It would be sad for me, but I might just do that.

You can choose whether or not to have your feelings hurt. If I were you I'd choose not to, because resentment will sap your energy and you can't change the situation. You just know what you can't expect from them.

I'm assuming that you're teaching your own children to respond in the right way to a gift or a card.

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answers from Phoenix on

I don't think it's a "personality" thing, it's a "no manners" thing.

I don't blame you for being upset, but if you don't want to address the issue, then you need to take responsibility for your own feelings. Either accept that they are inconsiderate, and continue mailing the cards/gifts, or stop sending them, if you are comfortable doing that, and it won't make you feel bad or guilty.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I always tell my son.. "Attitude of gratitude" if someone can take the time to buy/make you a gift and or do something special, you surely can take time to thank them................ When my niece was little, I sent my biological sister SEVERAL gifts for the child and never once recd a thank you., In fact, my sister complained about the clothes being too big on one occasion.. therefore, after that, I stopped sending items.... who needs the drama..

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answers from Tampa on

My 34-year old BIL is just like this. For years, I have made sure to buy gifts with my own money, wrap, and ship to him. Rarely have we ever been ackowledged that he even receives them. I had my fill after about 13 years of this last year. I told my DH that if he wants his brother to have something from us, then it was on him to make it happen...I was done. I suspect my DH thinks that I will cool off and change my mind...I don't think so!

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answers from San Francisco on

One of my best friends is a wonderful person -- but she never acknowledges gifts. She's so nice in every other way, that I don't sweat it, I just call her and ask her if she got it.

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answers from Kansas City on

i would stop sending any gifts, maybe just the card if you feel bad to not acknowledge the day somehow. as for them not send a thank you or even so much as a call, that is EXTREMELY RUDE OF THEM!!! i would be very tempted to not send them anything anymore, but i know then i would feel guilty. they are just rude, ungrateful people. if you stopped sending them anything at all they would probably call and say why didnt you send our kid a B-Day card??? sorry they are being so callous toward you!!!

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answers from Portland on

I would probably stop sending gifts and maybe just a card. It could be a personality thing, being raised (SIL) with no gifts or little gifts so receiving them may be awkward for them, not know what to say kinda thing. It doesn't seem like they appreciate those polite gestures and don't seem to reciprocate on y'alls birthdays... maybe they got too comfortable and take it for granted or something.

This time, I would call and be like hey I wanted to check and make sure you got our gift and it wasn't lost in the mail. I think that's rude in general, and especially in that situation because you sent something and how are you going to know if they even got it.

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answers from San Luis Obispo on

Just because someone is family, it does not mean that they are a good friend or have the qualities you would look for in a friend. Think about it like that. You are related to these people, yes, but they are clearly not your friend. And, if they were just a friend and treated you like this, you would stop being their friend. We tend to lower our standards for family members and is that really the right thing to do? I would continue to be your caring and conscience self and send birthday cards, but I would never send a gift. You have no clue if they have ever liked and/or appreciated anything that you have sent, so you should stop. As for the calls and emails, I would stop that as well. However, if you are planning a full family event, I would send them a mailed and email invitation. You would have once again done the right thing, which is what you should do, and then they can do what they want. I am sorry about all of this, but I am not surprised. This happens in families a lot.

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answers from Tampa on

This is a behavior learned from home. For the next bday send children friendly book on etiquette or personalized set of thank you cards with their name or initial on it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I would not send anything unless I see them in person/party/get together. That is a bit much that they will not answer phone calls and text. Maybe they will realize how unappreciative they have been.

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answers from Amarillo on

Here is an off the wall thought, since you do send a gift attach a return receipt requested form. At least you know someone had to sign for it.

Otherwise I would stop sending gifts that you don't know got there and/or were appreciated and if the size was correct at the time.

Families are so much fun at times.

Best to you.

The other S.

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answers from Cleveland on

I'd stop giving gifts for sure! It's one thing to not receive a hand written thank you note or no gift in return but not even a thank you or comment at all??? That's absurd. I see no reason you should keep sending things. This is over the top.

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