Thank you's and appreciation

justnotmarthaFebruary 12, 2009

The thread on step kids growing up moved toward a tangent I wanted to expand on. What should kids be grateful for from their parents? Dotz mentioned not saying thank you for soup put in front of them, but I disagree, in theory.

I teach my kids to say thank you for anything that is done for them. Dad got you a glass of milk? Say thank you. Brother told you he liked your picture? Say thank you. Mom drove you to your friend's? Say thank you. I completely acknowledge most of these things are general expectations of a parent, but I don't see the harm in teaching kids to appreciate any time someone goes out of their way for them. We talk often about the fact that many of the things they ask for/expect require a sacrifice of time/money/participation and that they should acknowledge that and appreciate the time/money/participation that is given. I fear that it's when they start to only expect and forget to ask they will become, for lack of a better word, spoiled brats. They know without doubt we support them (probably over-support them!) in what they want to do and always have, so I don't worry they are insecure in that way. I guess I fear they may be 'over secure', and take steps to remind them to appreciate all they have.

So am I asking or expecting too much of them?

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What i would say, is that I try to teach my D to say thank you etc becasue that is the right thing. But NOT because I need to hear it. I think most good kids tend to be nicer outside the house than in.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:04AM
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Your post made me think of something that just happened in my house this AM. My 2 year old has learned please, thank you, you're welcome and excuse me from a very early age - they were some of her first words that she understood. This AM I heard her sneeze and I then heard her tell herself Bless You and then immediately after that, thank you. I had to laugh because she was talking to herself. She is the most well mannered baby I've ever met. And I really didn't stress her learning these things, she just picked them up from hearing the words used in our family on a daily basis.

I think whenever someone does anything for you, they should be thanked. :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:49AM
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I guess the other side of that, then, to be fair, would be thanking the kids every time they take out the garbage, pass the potatoes, wash the dishes, or other household chores that they are doing so that others don't have to.

Nothing at all wrong with trying to instill basic good manners and a sense of appreciation, and if it goes both ways, it's more likely to "stick" because it's more likely to be felt as a sincere and positive thing that isn't just a hollow verbal chore expected of them only.

Same thing with expressing appreciation re college: "Thanks, Dad, for working to make my college education possible."/"Thanks, kid, for working so hard and earning such good grades."

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 9:20AM
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Serenity, I agree completely. My dd thanks me for cooking. I thank her for chewing with her mouth closed. She thanks me for helping her pick out clothes, I thank her for waking up cheerful.

I think giving thanks is a wonderful practice.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:02AM
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Serenity, I completely agree, and for two reasons. One, you are correct that it goes both ways. Kids learn by the example we set, and so we make a definite effort to role model appreciation. Two, I feel if kids do know we appreciate their positives it makes pointing out the negatives more contructive. For example, if we thank SD for remembering to clean the kitchen without being asked, it doesn't feel like we are only pointing out what she does wrong if one night we have to remind her two times, and then send her back up to take the garbage out. If kids feel all parents do is harp on them, they will just tune us out, so I think you have to give the good and the bad to be taken seriously. Plus, SD knows when we are truly upset by something we mean it and not just picking her apart.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:36AM
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I totally agree with everyone! I do expect my DS to do his chores, but I also thank him afterwards. I want him to know that while he is expected to do certain things, it is also less of a burden on us and we do appreciate not having to do the things he does (and not having to force him to do it).

When he was littler, I decided I would bring him small treats on days he had a good day at daycare. That lasted all of one week. He started expecting it and started throwing a fit "WHY DIDN'T YOU BRING ME CHOCOLATE MILK!!!" I would try to tell him that it was because he had a bad day and I cannot reward bad behavior, but logic really wasn't working. So I started thinking.....why am I rewarding him for something he should already be doing? Instead I would give him encouraging words like "I'm really proud of you for being on your best behavior today". Finally he realized that the "bar" had been raised and what would've been considered best behavior before was now standard.

I definitely think parents should teach their kids to send thank you notes. That is really a lost for of communication. I don't necessarily make DS send them for every single gift he receives, but I do want him to send one to people who live far away or maybe aren't close relatives. Like my aunt would be DS's great aunt. She lives far away and hardly ever gets to see him. It's really thoughtful that she sent him money for his birthday. Also, SO's parents. They live far away and they are certainly not obligated to send something to him. But they did and it means a lot to me, if not DS. So he sent them thank you cards and I'm sure they enjoyed getting them.

Unfortunately, BM and SO aren't like that with SO's DD. I sent her a package of stuff she left at our house. It wasn't important stuff, but I wanted a reason for her to get a package from us at her house. So I sent it with a card. I never once heard whether she even got the stuff. A couple of weeks later, I asked SO and he said "oh, yeah, she got it". I wonder why she didn't do something as simple as text me or something at least to tell me she got it? Actually, I know why, it's because she's come to EXPECT for me to do these things for her. And that is my, BM and SO's fault.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:36AM
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I agree with Serenity.

I have taught DD to say please, thank you, etc. However, most of you know I was a stepkid growing up and I was in the middle of appreciation wars. Example, I was the ONLY kid to have to say thank you for dinner. Seriously..I HAD to say thank you, it was mandatory after any dinner. But siblings did not because they were biological.

So that colors my view a lot. I don't expect DD to thank me or Ex for providing as parents should. I do expect her to be polite and say thank you, should anyone go out of their way..a gift, etc.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 12:19PM
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Excellent thread. Very eye opening in many ways. As a step parent, I realize that at times I expect "thank you" from a step child for an act I wouldn't expect a "thank you" from from my own bio sons...But of course, that has to do with our hard wiring, I believe. We bring children into the world and expect that we do things for them automatically. For the step children it can sometimes seem like we are going above and beyond and should be thanked for that act. But in the end, they are all children...and the fact that they live with a step parent who raises them isn't their fault at all.

I do praise all of my kids daily though and say thanks whenever I can. Clearly, no one wants to do a chore that goes unappreciated. Not even me...

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 12:31PM
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Nivea..."Seriously..I HAD to say thank you, it was mandatory after any dinner."

Jeez Louise. I don't think there are enough words to say what I feel about that.

I think the thank you's should not be forced, but should be encouraged enough that it becomes understood when someone is working for your benefit that thanking them is the kind, considerate, loving thing to do. Making a child say thank you every night for dinner is just disgusting. Especially to be singled out like that.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Yep, its kind of gross and it got worse. SM felt that she wasn't getting enough appreciation from me (even after the mandatory thank you's) so stopped cooking dinner at all! So I cooked, but I never got a thank you.

Even as young as 7/8 or so I was cooking, cleaning, laundry for myself and others in the household because I just was not appreciative enough when someone else did it for me.

Well anyway, my point is that I see it alot here when SP's complain about how much they do and what they expect of their stepkid. It's not up to the child to give you undying appreciation. It's up to the spouse and stepparent to decide who does what and how it's going to be accomplished and what the goal is. If a stepparent can't handle it, it shouldn't be blamed on the child for not being appreciative enough. They are just simply not cut out for providing for another child not theirs and there is no harm in saying that, its the truth. Pretending like something is wrong with the child who is growing up is the wrong way to go about it. It's the grown ups that have all the control and need to own it.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 1:21PM
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Funny - we've taught all our kids to say thank you after dinner and I don't find that oppresive, just courteous. To make my SD say it and not DS's would be totally wrong and never happen, but I've taught them all they should say thank you before they leave the table. We also ask that don't jump up from the table after finishing, and they (usually) ask to be excused. I don't hold their hands to the fire to get this, but usually if they forget and I raise an eyebrow their they will at least thank their dad for dinner (he is the cook!) When we are eating at someone else's house I expect them to go thank the hosts by name - "thank you for dinner Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary."

I guess I'm a stickler for manners.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 1:46PM
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Funny - we've taught all our kids to say thank you after dinner and I don't find that oppresive, just courteous. To make my SD say it and not DS's would be totally wrong and never happen, but I've taught them all they should say thank you before they leave the table. We also ask that don't jump up from the table after finishing, and they (usually) ask to be excused. I don't hold their hands to the fire to get this, but usually if they forget and I raise an eyebrow their they will at least thank their dad for dinner (he is the cook!) When we are eating at someone else's house I expect them to go thank the hosts by name - "thank you for dinner Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary."

I guess I'm a stickler for manners.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 1:47PM
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I do want to add a little amendment to my previous statement. When I was growing up, my siblings and I had a routine. One of us would start it every night...For example, I would say "Wow, momma! This meal is AWESOME!" My Dad and/or another siblings would kick in with "Oh yes! This is the best chicken (or whatever) that you have made in a long time!" We did this every single night without fail. I can still see the cute little smile come across my mom's face every night with the quite little "well, you guys are very welcome!" that followed.

No one forced us to do it. We just did it. It was just how we were raised. So I do kind of have a suggestion here. TALK to your kids. I mean, if a kid doesn't say "thank you" I wouldn't not cook dinner or not take them somewhere. But what I would do is TEACH them. A simple little smile and a "you are welcome" out of no where usually does the trick. It doesn't have to be a huge deal. If I fix a kid a bowl of ice cream and give it to them and they don't say thank you then I don't lose it and get all offended or upset...If I say anything at all, it would be a smile and a "you're welcome..." If you get mad and say "Well, what the Hell..I made you dinner and you won't say thank you?" that is not going to teach them to appreciate you. That would only teach them to be afraid that they will be in trouble if they don't speak the WORDS "thank you." But that does not lessen the importance of a child learning to appreciate what others do for them.

Some people take this to an extreme an get mega offended by it. My view on it is that it doesn't have to be a huge deal. Because there are 7 people in my family, I make everyone's plate each night to be sure there is enough to go around...The most severe thing that I would do is hold the plate out to a kid, smile and say "What do you say?"

My kids saw some show a long time ago and think they are being funny sometimes by using what they saw on this show. Occasionally when I say "What do you say?" they will say "It's about time!" We all laugh and then they say "Naw, I'm just kidding! Thank you!" It doesn't have to be the end of the world...but still manners ARE important. I would never NOT teach my kids to say please and thank you just because I "should be doing it anyway"

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 2:35PM
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My daughter is very appreciative of many things that people do especially of course her family. She is a very affectionate lady so words "thank you mommy (yes she says mommy)for doing XYZ" is something I hear often.

I never did any of the things though in order to be appreciated. Of course people have to be greatful, but we should not do good stuff just because we want to hear "thanks". I don't NEED thank yous. I don't expect them.

The cutest thank you I got from DD is: thank you mommy for reading to me when I was little, it made me who I am. :)

She also had some funny/sarcastic thank yous: thank you mommy for not being PTA mom, thank you mommy for not driving SVU, thank you mommy for not going outside in sweatpants LOL Those are not serious appreciation words just her pocking fun at things.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 4:33PM
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Well, maybe I am the minority here and maybe I will even get blasted, but who cares? So, here goes:

I didn't have kids so I would have someone to appreciate me. I love them more than anything and would do anything for my kids. But they were taught from their first words to say thank you. Not just to me, to anyone that did anything for them. ESPECIALLY anyone besides me. I am their mother and I HAVE to do certain things for them. Anyone else that does anything for them does not HAVE to, so therefore they ARE deserving of some appreciation and gratitude. In fact, anyone that does something for my kids automatically gets my gratitude and appreciation, whether they want it or not. THANK YOU FOR DOING SOMETHING NICE FOR MY KID! How ridiculous would it be if they did something nice and I got mad at them for it?

Now, as for my kids appreciating what I do for them? Yeah, they should. I gave them life. I sacrifice so they can have what they need and/or want. I want them to have a better life than me and they SHOULD appreciate how hard I work to give it to them. And that is part of the problem with some of the brats you see out there... no appreciation for ANYONE. They expect everything and take no responsibility for themselves. They don't need to bow down and kiss my feet (though it might be nice) but they can show their appreciation by getting good grades, acting responsibly, not getting arrested, not doing drugs, not getting pregnant (as teens) or hanging out with the 'wrong' crowd and by acting in a way that makes me proud.

But, saying thank you, please and your welcome is common courtesy and something they were taught from the time they could talk. It's not something that I have to think about but I do expect them to treat people with common courtesy. If I ever heard of one of my kids treating a stepparent the way some of us are treated, they'd certainly hear it from me that's unacceptable. If MY child rolled his/her eyes at someone that is trying to do something nice for them, not okay with me!!! I wouldn't justify that behavior because I don't like the person they treat that way. How I feel about someone has nothing to do with it. That isn't how I raised them and IF they are (or feel they are) treated poorly by that person, I would certainly not condone that as the way to deal with it. If there is a problem, then it needs to be addressed and resolved, not throw fuel on the fire and make it worse with poor behavior. That isn't going to make anyone's situation better, only worse. The message I want my kids to have is 'treat others the way you want to be treated' and there are sometimes people in the world that you don't like but you have to learn to get along with them... it might be a boss, co worker, neighbor, in-laws or a stepparent. DEAL WITH IT.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 11:59PM
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Please, thank you, you are welcome, may I help you, let me get that for you, is there any thing that I can do to help you, you look very pretty today, you look very handsome today, I am proud of you.....and so on should be a normal part of every one's day.

Opening the door or holding it open for someone, allowing someone with one item to go ahead of you at the store, helping a stranger with in an awkward situation, allowing someone in a car to get out of the gas station....putting a smile on your face....again....should be daily things we do for others.

I love to help strangers....I will paraphrase of my favorite verses in the Bible tells us that we should be mindful of how we treat strangers for we could be entertaining angels. I love that thought.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 12:14AM
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I don't see that you are saying anything different imaommy than what others said wiht one exception.

The only thing does not sound right is that children have to get good grades and not do drugs and not go to jail as a sign of appreciation for their mom. that doesn't sound right.

Unless children have intrinsic motivation they were never do well in life. Appreciating mom's sacrficies will get them only that far.

DD has intrinsic motivation because of how she was raised and what we put into her, some of modeling and some of it just plain genetics.

DD did well in school for two reasons: she wanted to get to good college so she can work in the field she is interested in and because she is smart. She didn't do it for me or out of appreciation. As about drugs or jail she knows that's not the kind of life she wants. But appreciation for our sacrfice is not the reason. As about getting pregnant, obviously a different reason here. lol

If appreciation for what i do for her would be enough motivation, she wouldn't do well in college because farnkly I do not do that much for her anymore. But she still does well. She does it for other reasons, for her future, not for me.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 9:46AM
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SO (with my help, of course) sent his DD flowers to school yesterday for Valentine's Day. We made sure to pick a modest but pretty arrangement so it wouldn't be embarassing. We wouldn't be able to send it to her house because BM would sabotage it somehow (by not being there for a delivery or lying to us about her schedule). SO called the school and made sure that it was okay. Funny, but the lady in the office even sounded excited! They are out of school today so yesterday was the last day to send them.

I got off work at 5:30 and called SO to see how the flowers went over. Well......guess what? He didn't know because he hadn't heard from her. So he says "she probably never got them". I said "don't cover for her; it's highly unlikely that she didn't get them and highly likely that she just didn't call to tell you thank you".

He called her right after and she said thanks and how much she loved them and how every one of her friends said how lucky she was. And that she got them at 10 AM.

So why didn't she call after school or send a text after school letting SO know that she got them? I just think it's rude not to acknowledge the receipt of a gift. Especially when it's being delivered or mailed or shipped.

Am I wrong?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 10:23AM
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It is rude. Unless she knew dad is at work and won't be able to answer.

I don't know what to say. It sounds to me like SD does not want to do anything with her dad and visits just because she has to. between visits she does not care. it is awfully sad but it happens.

My DD's GF never wants to do much wiht her dad, sees him maybe once or twice a year when he pressures. Does not allow him to come over and barely talks to him. her reason is she cannot forgive him how he mistreated her mom and how he allowed XSM to mistreat her. I am not saying that's the case here but sometimes somehting bother children and we don't know what it is. maybe when she'll grow up she'll tell.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:22AM
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That is so sad! It hurts when things like that happen.

My dh and I used to send balloons or gift baskets to my SS when we first moved. One year I had the florist make him up a candy, flower, and balloon basket for halloween since we would not see him. Granted he was young, but he never called so we called to make sure he got the basket and he said "oh yeah but my mom and I forgot it at school." It really hurt my feelings. I spent a pretty penny for the whole thing and made sure it was fun and he forgot it at school over the weekend so it was all ruined by Monday. As the woman of course I was the one that thought of it and ordered it lol, but the fact that he and his mom forgot it just stung a bit. Honestly, it was the last time I did that because him forgeting it showed me that it really was not a big deal to him. Now I save my money and send a card.

Sofrustrated, that is sooo incredibly adorable what a cutie.

I have been nagged at by my in-laws for being a stickler with the kids about manners. I always get the "oh he or she is fine they do not need to say thank you" crap, but I say oh yes they do. I wonder how people think these kids get the great manners they compliment them on?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 1:22PM
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Ashley, how old is your SD again?

I think it's a bit premature to pin the "brat" label on the girl when not even a full day has passed and ----HELLO---- it's the last schoolday before *Valentine's Day*. The girl is probably completely preoccupied with what valentines she did or didn't get from the kid she has a crush on, or whatever. Sorry but that's just the mindset of any girl between 6 and 20. I also think it's unnecessarily negatively intrusive to make a point of stirring the pot with DH over it. Why would you knowingly exacerbate his worst and most likely unfounded fears of rejection? Why wouldn't you instead make him feel better by offering what is far more likely to be the logical explanation, from your perspective as a grown-up woman (but formerly a young girl)?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 2:36PM
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...a couple of points I forgot to add:

-don't mean to confuse with my use of quotes around the word "brat": I know you didn't use that word

-was also going to ask if she had any afterschool activities going on today which may have prevented her from calling her Dad right away

-and also was just going to remind everyone about how acutely embarassing it can be to call your parents ---for ANY reason--- when you're a girl of a certain age amongst her friends. It just could simply be that SD hasn't had a moment yet to call her dad privately.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 2:40PM
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Believe it or not the girls STILL do not get the concept of "Please" and "Thank you". When J cooks (he's the master chef in the family) I'll ask the girls "What do we say to daddy for cooking?" The response I'll get from them is "You're welcome." HAHAHAHA

I always just try to be the example and say please, thank you and you're welcome when appropriate...even when speaking to the girls. Being a good example is this best thing you can do as far as respect and manners go.

They don't say sir and ma'am either which around these parts will get a kid in trouble. We don't so much care if they call us sir and ma'am but grand parents, baby sitters and school staff do care and the girls catch hell for not saying it. Because of this we have started making them say it to us in hopes it will become habit.

It isn't that either J or I expect thank you's. I do so much out of routine and habit with out them and it doesn't bother me. We do want respectful and polite children who won't embarrass the hell out of in public though. Children learn manners at home and it's on the parents to teach them. We don't want them to turn into little Varuka Salts that no one can stand to be around. I always feel sorry for the abnoxious neighborhood kid that none of the adults like. You know....the thirteen year old who thinks they're an adult and borderlines on disrespect with every word that comes out of their mouth. The one who calls adults by their first names and makes sarcastic remarks all the time. The kid who can't take a hint and hit the road when ADULTS are talking. It's the parents fault that no one wants to be around him. We don't want that for the girls.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2009 at 11:53PM
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serenity, i just have to point out that ashley's SO's daughter never calls or emails ot texts her dad and never responds to his. I am convinced that there is a much deeper issue involved and much more complicated reason than just being busy or embarassed. Of course it is much easier to say that it is BM's fault than actually understand the issue.

But i have to completely agree that comments that ashley made to her SO were uneccessary. I think by making these kind of comments stepparent or a partner of bioparent can directly or indirectly contribute to worsening of relationship between parents and their children (then of course start blaming BM). My SO sometimes complains about his DDs not calling or not emailing here and there and even when i agree with him I still say: she is busy in colllege, she is stressed over her classes etc. Or I do not offer any comments. yes he sometimes says that i always defend his DDs no matter what they do. But I don't see any reason to make any uncalled negative comments about his DDs and I would not tolerate any uncalled negative comments about my DD. Unless of course we are talking about some extreme cases or a specific requests that needed to be made. But calling/not calling is not the issue for a stepparent to be that involved. If every time DD does not call me some man would offer negative comment, I would probably show him where the door is.

At the same time ashley is young and although is a grown woman, is not ready for parenting/stepparenting a teenager. I was a young mom but I certainly didn't have a teenager in my 20s. It comes wiht expereince and even then we often do not have a clue what to say or what to do. I am in my 40s and DD is grown but I still do not know if i do the right thing. Wouldn't expect anyone in 20s to know.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 9:20AM
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