Dear Annie: My niece’s children are so ungrateful, I want to stop sending gifts

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Dear Annie: I have a family of grandnieces and nephews who never say thank you or let you know they received their gift. They are young, and I’d blame my niece for not teaching them, but she has five children, and I can imagine it’s hard for her to find the time to teach them to say thank you.

My mom, the great-grandma, stopped sending them gifts because she never heard if they liked them or even if they received them. I don’t want to do that. I blame the parents more and would still send $20 for each of their birthdays.

So I sent the oldest, my 14-year-old grandniece, a birthday card with a $20 bill in it, and I sent a text wishing her a happy birthday on her birthday. She thanked me for the birthday wishes but never mentioned the card. So I waited a few days and texted her to see if she got the card, and she replied “yes.” That’s it — just “yes.”

She’s 14, and I’m starting to feel like my mother — that if she can’t even type the words “thank you,” why do I bother? I waited six weeks to see if she would mail a thank-you card, but nothing.

The other grandnieces and nephews from other families send us a text with a picture or video thanking us. They are all out of state, and all I want is an acknowledgement that it got there and how it meant a lot to them that we are thinking of them on their special day.

It’s just this one family, and I didn’t want to treat them differently, like my mom does. My husband says to overlook it because it’s how they are raised, but I feel I should let my grandniece know that if she can’t appreciate the gift, then I will just wish her a happy birthday through text and call it a day. I feel she’s old enough to understand that she should thank someone.

— Unappreciated

Dear Unappreciated: You are correct that she is certainly old enough to understand. Her mother is doing her a disservice by not teaching her the importance of gratitude. It has the power to create great things. It is your money, so do what makes you feel most comfortable, and if that is not giving her money anymore, then don’t give it. But I would convey to her WHY you have stopped. She might not even know. A mother is not the only person who can influence good manners on a child. A great aunt can certainly have a positive influence, so talk with her first.

Dear Annie: If I may, could I make another suggestion to go along with “Concerned Animal Lover’s” list? Every month, I donate several small bags of cat and dog food to our local food bank. A good friend of mine volunteers there, and she once told me the story of an elderly man who came in looking for food for his cat. All she had was pouches of tuna.

That really made me think. I know a lot of people will go hungry in order to feed their beloved pets. And with today’s economy, it’s even more difficult for some to make ends meet. So, I would like to encourage people to donate some pet food to their local food banks to help people out.

— Another Animal Lover

Dear Animal Lover: What a wonderful suggestion. Thank you.

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology — featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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