Dear Straight Talk: Each year I give my niece and nephew an expensive gift of something they want or need, often including money. If I’m there, they say thank you but I’ve never once received a thank-you letter. I know young people are busy, but really? Too busy to spend 15 minutes? The kids are now 17 and 19. I’m disappointed that my brother and his wife never made them write thank-you letters. (I’ve not received email thank-yous either.) Though I’ve never complained, ingratitude is such a poor trait. Should I send them anything this year? — Aunt Maureen
Katie, 18, Auburn: The last time I wrote thank-yous, I was five and my parents forced me. Now I don’t have time, but I always make a point to call relatives to thank them. No “thank-you” whatsoever? That’s discouraging. I would stop buying them expensive gifts.
Christina, 19, Marysville: Guilty as charged! My mom has told me to write thank-yous, but I’m lazy about it. The few times I actually did it, I never had the addresses! If I have the person’s email, I might send thanks that way.
Taylor, 14, Santa Rosa: What you describe is normal. People don’t have time and many don’t know better. My mom made me write thank-yous when I was younger, but I usually don’t anymore. For a grandparent, I might send a quick email thanks.
Dear Aunt Maureen: Judging from the panel’s response, most helicopter parents aren’t hovering over the thank-you letter. How sad. A thank-you note is the right thing to do — and, according to multiple studies, expressing gratitude improves happiness, social connectedness — even physical health — including protecting against certain psychological disorders. With parents allowing kids an average of seven hours daily of screen-time entertainment, they definitely have time.
Maureen, you’ve been a model of unconditional love. If you can continue giving unconditionally, do so. Otherwise, rather than feel resentment, scale back. Parents: Please insist, “force,” or be a stickler (however you want to look at it) about gratitude. Start by making thank-you letters part of your annual holiday tradition. — Lauren
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