Dear Snarky – I Write My Teenagers Thank You Notes

Dear SnaManyThanksBACrky,

 I’m in big trouble with my mother! I have two teenagers and over Christmas my 17-year-old daughter spilled the beans to my mom that I have been writing my kids’ thank you notes for years.

 I started doing it when they were in elementary school. I got tired of nagging them so I just sat down and did it. As they’ve gotten older I’ve become pretty good at matching their handwriting style. Yes, I know it was bad parenting, but my mother has blown it out of proportion and says it was an “act of betrayal.”

 Do you have any advice for mending this rift?

 Signed, Thank You Mom

Dear Thank You,

I’m not going to lie. You’ve got a mess on your hands and it’s bigger than writing thanking you notes. Good Lord, woman are you also doing your kids’ homework and penning their college application essays? This is just all kinds of wrong BUT I’m not here to make you feel worse. I’m here to help.

So, the only thing I’ve got for you is telling your mom she’s right. You have to do a full mea culpa and beg for forgiveness. If you have to get on your hands and knees to do it – so be it. THEN I would reexamine your parenting practices.

Perhaps, your daughter sharing with her grandma that you have been writing the thank you notes was a “wake up” call. I’m guessing there are bigger issues of control going on.

P.S. Please don’t write me a thank note for this advice.

Yours, Snarky


20 thoughts on “Dear Snarky – I Write My Teenagers Thank You Notes

  1. Becky Williams says:

    I agree for the daughter to up and tell her grandma that the mom had been writing their thank you notes all these years means something else is going on. Great advice as usual.

  2. mamalion3 says:

    I’ll be honest…. I kind of feel like thank you notes are for people who aren’t in your immediate family. I think it’s a ridiculous practice for someone who is suppose to be a close family member to expect a hand written thank you note from their grand children! My mother would be offended if what she got was a note… she would prefer a hug around the neck instead.

      • mamalion3 says:

        I’m from your hometown! Thank you notes were expected but only for those who weren’t close… My MIL expects it, but she’s from the mid-West. It’s caused some problems because I wasn’t aware that I was suppose to be making my children who couldn’t even write yet do that 🙂

  3. amy says:

    Why didn’t they just call? It’s faster, yet more personal, and may evolve into a real conversation. Also, they could all do it together on speaker phone or skype. I think verbal thank yous are easier than putting pen to paper and trying to think of what to say, and if kids at least get into the habit of at least calling in a timely manner, it won’t seem so hard.

  4. RachelRae says:

    I’ve never been good about thank-you notes, simply because life happens and I forget till 6 months down the road. But since high school I’ve made a determined effort to write thank-you notes. They are always short and follow the same pattern: thank you for x, they were considerate to think of me. A sentence or two about something I’ve always loved them for and how much they mean to me, and a “thanks again.”
    Not terribly complicated, but I have been told several people saved the notes to teach their children or in some cases, their middle school class how to write a meaningful thank you. Some of those people told me later they regretted their gift had not been more simply because the note touched them so much.
    All that to say, even if the gift is terrible, a genuine note of appreciation for the giver can really boost someone’s day. If it isn’t genuine, might as well not write it.

  5. Teresa Sherwin says:

    I think the issue isn’t whether or not grandkids should be expected to write thank you notes or even thank you notes in general. The issue is that they mom lied for years about writing them. I agree with Snarky. Beg for forgiveness.

      • mamalion3 says:

        Also, while I feel the daughter owes a big “I’m sorry” for lying…. The mom needs to take a little ownership of the fact that she made her daughter feel like she needed to do this in the first place! As adults we should get to decide how things are going to be handled and shouldn’t feel obligated to make our parents “happy” by doing things exactly as they would do. Doing otherwise is fairly dysfunctional and puts an unfair burden upon the spouse of the puppet.

  6. Patrice says:

    It’s just a thank you note! If it’s important to the grandmother than make your kids take five minutes and write one. It won’t kill them. My grandmother lived next door to us and we wrote her thank you notes for Christmas, birthday etc. She loved them and we loved her. Furthermore being made, taught, forced (whatever you want to call it) to write thank you notes has helped me in my job and all other aspects of my life.

  7. Maureen Sklaroff says:

    Having parented for 23 years now, I’ve seen thank you note etiquette change quite a bit over the years. When I was first a mom, I wrote beautiful eloquent thank you notes for each and every little gift, as I had been raised to do. As my kids grew older, I put them in charge of writing thank you notes. As teens, they began to buck the system, saying a phone call or e-mail was adequate and that’s what everyone else was doing. Somewhere along the line, I started to agree with them. Now I have a six year old and I’ve been trying to instill good habits in her, as I did with my older kids. I don’t make her write the letter, but write for her and ask her what she would like to say and would she like to add this or that. Well, she is not even 6.5 and is already bucking the system! I don’t know how she picked up that she was the only kid doing thank you notes these days, given that she is so young and homeschooled to boot. Anyway, the other day she said we should just text a thank you. Ack! I have actually contemplated doing exactly what this mother did. The problem is being stuck between the “I will disown you if you don’t write proper thank you notes” generation and the “I’ll text them, if I get a chance” generation. My mom would be okay without receiving the notes, but as she has gotten older, exchanging letters and pictures with my daughter has become a bigger part of her life and i think it would hurt her feelings. My MIL would just be pissy if I skipped thank you notes and currently nags me about my kids who are in their 20’s not writing thank you notes, but I say, they’re adults now, take that up with them. I taught them properly when they were young and refuse to be held hostage by their behavior and her expectations of them as adults. I just wish the older generation would catch up on this (especially those Southerners, I was born in Montgomery, so know all about that!). Thank you notes and Christmas cards are bygones, like it or not. Blame it on those darn millenials!

  8. Em Rohrer says:

    A great solution to thank-you notes in our family was found by my older sister (who has the older kiddos these days). Instead of trying to convince her 8 and 5 year old to sit and write a thank you note, she takes fun photos of them enjoying the gifts they receive, including one of them holding a sign that says “Thank you Grandma & Grandpa” (or whatever relative it is for). Depending on the relative and how computer savvy they are, she either emails them an image file of the collage or prints it and mails it to them. I’m totally stealing this idea for my daughter who is 2 and a half now!

  9. Donna says:

    I wasn’t raised to write thank yous except for big occassions; high school and college graduation, bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, funeral flowers. Several years ago my mom died unexpectedly. My cousin sent flowers and had a fit when I didn’t write out thank you’s for the flowers the day of mom’s services. Hello, I’m an only child and mom lived with me. Not going there.

    I’ve given gifts for showers, weddings and graduations and received a “thank you for the lovely (insert item) it was very nice” . I’ve also received none. Recently we had a wedding in our church. I would accept a verbal thank you, but I haven’t received that and I see the couple every week in church. That one bothers me than all the others combined.

  10. Jeanne says:

    I don’t look for a thank you note if they open and thank me at the time but I would like a thank you if I’ve got to the trouble to buy, wrap and mail a gift…if only as a confirmation that it was received. I’m ok with email or facebook thank you but a note show a greater degree of appreciation in my book. The rule in our house is that a gift must be acknowledged before it can be used or spent and I hold myself as well as my daughter to that rule. If someone has gone to the effort to remember you, the least you can do is remember them.

  11. suburbanprincessteacher says:

    I agree that Mom needs to beg for forgiveness for being such a liar-liar-pants-on-fire. She reminds me of those parents who do their children’s homework.
    In terms of thank-you notes, as a teacher and a mom, I am in favour of having kids write them for a couple of reasons: 1. Children learn that gratitude should take a little effort. 2. They can practice their penmanship. 3. They can practice writing for a real purpose. The more you write, the better a writer you become. And trust me, most kids I know could use the practice.
    My kids wrote thank you notes before they could write. They drew pictures and signed their names. When they learned more, they wrote more. And when they got computers, they e-mailed their thank you’s. My kids (both boys) are grateful for what they receive and I think making them write thank-you notes from a young age played a part.

  12. Christina says:

    I was raised in a home where thank you notes were required for all gifts and cards (birthday, Easter, Halloween, you name it – even if the cards DIDN’T contain money). It was for the same reason others have mentioned: let the sender know you received whatever it was that made them think of you and that you appreciate their effort.

    My grandmother would send all her grandkids cards on any holiday and each typically contained $5-10 (depending on the occasion). As we got older my sister and I continued to send thank you notes for the cards. Well, we later found out that we were the only two grandkids left getting these cards. That’s right, Grannie cut off the kids who didn’t send thank you’s!

    She has since passed but I try to carry on my grandmother’s legacy of sending thank you notes each time someone has taken time and effort to consider me. My husband’s family never sends notes (paper or otherwise) and to be honest I find it quite rude.

    Even though I am a millenial I think there’s something to be said for real thank you notes. It makes the gift giver feel appreciated and the gift recipient extra grateful. And bonus: Target sells super cute ones for only a buck.

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