Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tales from the Trenches: Thankless Children

I admit that I have a child in my life that is hardly ever pleased with anything that she ever receives. She is incredibly vocal about it. So vocal about it that it makes the rest of us around her want to hide under a rock. By the way, this IS NOT K-.

We were at a get-together this past holiday season and the children were all handed presents. They opened them and it was a variety of clothing/underwear and socks. After she opened her underwear she announced, "This is a HORRIBLE gift!" Later, the mother said that she tells the kids that if they aren't good that they will receive socks and underwear for Christmas. But, this isn't an isolated incident with this 7 year old. I've been told stories where she has thrown things at the givers and told them that she just hated the items. She also told a family member one year that if "it wasn't Barbie that she didn't want it." Every year for birthdays or Christmas, this child always loudly announces major displeasure with someones gift. It isn't like this child comes from major riches or wealth.

What do you do in that case? The mother has pulled her aside and talked with her at that point of offense, but I hate to say that the damage is already done. It would also be a different story if it was a one time gig. Let's face it, kids can be kids, but this one just keeps going. Loudly.

Though my child is not perfect by any stretch, she is a very appreciative child. She would be thrilled if someone gave her a bag of dirt. Seriously. She would say, "That was so kind of you!" Then she would proceed to take her shoes and socks off and play in it for an hour. She received a few duplicate gifts for her birthday this year. Her response? She pulled me aside privately to tell me quietly. She wasn't upset. Her words were, "Mommy, I can share it with someone who doesn't have one." In our home, K- is taught that she is to have a thankful heart.

So, what is your take on thankless children? I'm curious. How do you handle it?


Jamie said...

Considering that I have a thankless child, I know how embarrassing this is. Despite what we have taught her, she has her own mind and vocalizes everything she thinks. I've been in this odd situation more than once. All I can do is apologize profusely.

But I've been on the receiving end, too and it is like a slap in the face.

If you know for a fact that the parent is not teaching the child to show appreciation or is feeding into this behavior, then I suggest ending the gift giving and give cards instead. If the parents brings it up (which is really distasteful) I'd say something to point the blame to myself rather than the parent or the child. If you blame them, they will get defensive and it may cause a lot of tension.

Bailey's Leaf said...

You bring up a great point. Actually, many of them, but the one that struck me most is that most parents do teach their children these things. Still, they have their own little personalities. Believe me, K- has done her share of things that have made me want to crawl under a rock. I don't question whether this child has been taught some level of thankfulness, but this is a blunt parent who prides herself in "I'm just the way I am and I just tell it like it is and I think that people appreciate that about me." My response to that was, "Well, sometimes." In the child's case, I'm thinking that a bit of parent mode of being has come into play as well. And no, I couldn't imagine what that must do to her when her kid flips everything at the givers.

I have toned down my gift giving in general, but especially with this child. This year she scored the $2.50 Christmas Barbie (I got it on a way discount) because I figured that if she hated it, I wasn't out too much money.

If I gave cards, this particular person would talk around me to the family, but not actually to me.

Ugh. Thanks for your input. It's important to be reminded that sometimes, no matter what, this could happen to any of us.

noreen said...

I have friend who's daughter does not even like what she gets her even if it is what she wants. I started limiting my daughter's exposure to her