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Teaching Grandchildren Gratitude

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It is important for young people to understand the need to show appreciation for gifts given to them. This is a page about teaching grandchildren gratitude.


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By 1 found this helpful
February 6, 2017

I sent my new college freshman grandson $50 on his birthday for his on-campus account last week. I know he knows I did so, because my son told me he had let my grandson know I did. Knowing my grandson responds to text messages, here's the one I just composed to him:

Dear <name>, I want to apologize for sending you $50 on your birthday. I didn't realize it at the time, but now I'm sure you must not like to receive gifts of money, because your dad said he had told you sometime last week we each put $50 into your account. You must have told him you didn't like receiving gifts of money, but since I didn't hear from you, I guess you just didn't want to hurt my feelings by telling me you didn't like it. Thank you, but if I had known you didn't like receiving gifts of money when I sent the $50, I wouldn't have done it. So I hope you will forgive me for doing that. You know I never want to hurt your feelings, and I can assure you it won't happen again. I love you, buddy! Sincerely, Grandpa.

I don't know if I'll hear back from him, but he will get the message - and know why I "forgot" his birthday next year.


February 6, 20175 found this helpful

You did the right thing. He should learn that he is not entitled to anything, and that he should be appreciative of any gifts he receives.

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February 6, 20171 found this helpful

When you give a gift to someone you need to be clear to yourself about your expectations. I learned long ago to take "me" out of the equation. Are you giving the gift to provide joy to the receiver or to yourself? It used to bother me when I gave someone a gift and in turn they gave it to someone else.


I think that once you give a gift, it's there for the receiver to do with what he wishes. It was a gift. No strings attached. If I loan someone money I privately do not expect it back. If it is paid back, I am happy. If it isnt, I had no expectations to disappointment. It is a much easier way to live! Just food for thought!

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February 7, 20173 found this helpful

Thanks for your thoughts, Mary Lynne. While I have heard this argument before, it just seems to me that common courtesy has been lost in the equation along the way. I send the gift to let the receiver know I have remembered them in some way, and I think enough about them to have gone out of my way to give them something they didn't have before. Yes, what they do with it is absolutely their business - but *I* am the one who made it possible for them to do so! I'd really like to know if they received it, first of all. In this case, I know he did. But do you REALLY think that's where the obligation on the part of the receiver ends?


If so, then I feel sorry for you, because that confirms to me what I already believe about the way we are headed: it IS all about "me" and the rest of you can just take a hike. I do thank you for taking the time to reply. That's better than what my grandson did, when you think about it. Oh, by the way, I have loaned people large sums of money with no expectation of repayment. BUT, they did THANK ME for doing so. That's all I'm asking for, nothing more. I don't think that's too much to "expect."

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February 7, 20171 found this helpful

Courtesy is a reasonable expectation, in my opinion. And if we don't remind members of the younger generation that such simple things are important, it won't be long until we're surrounded by rudeness. As the elders in the crowd, we're obligated to teach a few things, don't you think?


(I customarily tell people they're quite welcome, after holding the door for them - for example - and not hearing a thank you, and "excuse you" to someone who butts in. This is my world, too, and if I want people to be polite I'd better show them the way.)

That said, it's a great treat meeting people who do take the time for simple courtesy.

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February 7, 20171 found this helpful

You may not receive a lot of responses to your posting but I do believe you will find many who will strongly agree - or disagree - with your response to your grandson.

My one question would be - did your children (son?) always thank you for the gifts they received from you? If yes - or no - what was your response to them? Were you always satisfied with their response?

I only ask this because I have 6 children and many grandchildren so I have given many gifts over the years and cannot say that I always felt they were appreciated. My problem is that I still love them all and just love to see or hear from all of them.


I would very much like them to all be appreciative of any type of gift or favor that is given or done for them but I do not believe I could ever try to shame them into acknowledging this. I'm just saying - I was always taught that it was better to say something nice or nothing at all.

Maybe you could tell your grandson that you hope he bought something nice or had a nice dinner with friends with the birthday gift?

sorry, I know many people will disagree with me but then we are very fortunate and can all still have different opinions.

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February 7, 20170 found this helpful

I understand your frustration on your grandson's manners in responding to a gift. However, sadly generations change and things that we were brought up to be important don't always carry over to the younger generation. Yes, he could have responded with a thank you, but there's no time limit on those things and hopefully when he gets home for that first break from college, he'll express his appreciation then.


The freshman year is such a turmoil and perhaps he just got caught up with college life/studies, etc. and hasn't responded yet. I am sure he was very grateful for your kind gift.

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February 7, 20170 found this helpful

I don't agree with some of these response. What ever happened to common courtesy and appreciation. I love the text and the grandson should have been ashamed. I quit giving gifts to grandkids a few tears ago for this reason. My oldest grandson called ME on his birthday asking for a new computer.

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February 7, 20172 found this helpful

Good for you Grandpa. I don't agree with some of these people. They're probably some of the ones that don't say thank you. Little brat deserved the text. Hope you stick to your guns and don't send him any more money. I quit giving gifts a few years ago when my grandsons kept wanting the latest technology. My 21 year old unemployed grandson just called me Jan 19 on his birthday asking for a new computer. I asked "don't you have a computer?" His response "it won't do what I need it for." Told him he needed to find a job and buy one himself.

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February 7, 20172 found this helpful

I loved this! Too many times kids think they deserve money from home. There is nothing worse than an ungrateful child.

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February 8, 20171 found this helpful

To the kind folks who have responded so far, I want to let you know I ended up NOT sending this note to my grandson - based at least in part upon your replies. So he has been spared the embarrassment - not that he is ever embarrassed by anything - at least not openly. Thank you all.

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Read More Answers

December 23, 20140 found this helpful

What can I do to teach my adult grandchildren to say thank you verbally, for Christmas gifts of gift cards, etc. Their parents say it, they do not.

By Barb S. from Canton, OH


December 24, 20140 found this helpful

I don't think you can teach them at this point. I'm sorry. My guess is they were taught when they were younger and they just choose not to.

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January 17, 20150 found this helpful

Gratitude unexpressed is gratitude unfelt, IMO. You are under no obligation - morally, socially, or otherwise, to gift your adult grandchildren. I suggest using the money to give to people less priveleged who actually are grateful for gifts. It seems unlikely the ingrates will miss them, and if they do, just explain it didn't seem they actually wanted those things.

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April 3, 20170 found this helpful

It can be hurtful to give a gift that it not acknowledged or seemingly appreciated. There are several ways to handle this either directly or indirectly. This is a page about grandchildren ungrateful for gifts.

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