Dear Annie: There are three sisters in my family. Two of us are childless. Our other sister now has seven grandchildren. Every Christmas and birthday, my other childless sister and I send a check to each grandniece and grandnephew. We never expect any gifts in return, but it would be nice to receive a text message or an email acknowledging our gifts. My other childless sister and I also receive regular solicitations to contribute to special funds — for example, one to pay for band uniforms.
Upon any graduation from high school, my other childless sister and I are expected to attend the event and pay for our own airfare, a hotel room, a car rental and other expenses, which is fine. But then we are both expected to work in the kitchen to assist with an elaborate gathering for many people — which I know is very expensive.
My other childless sister feels as if it would be unfair to the younger grandnieces and grandnephews to stop sending checks because we have sent so many checks to the older ones and they are ungrateful. I think that it is time to stop sending checks. Your opinion, please. — Checked Out
Dear Checked Out: You don't owe anybody anything. Send the younger children greeting cards if you'd like to let them know you're thinking of them on special occasions, but don't include checks. If they get angry, as though they were entitled to your money just because their elder siblings received some, then they needed a lesson in humility more than they needed cash.
Dear Annie: I would like to use you as a sounding board, hoping that my children and old-enough grandchildren might read this and see themselves in the paper.
I have a problem that I'm sure other adults with grown children and grandchildren have when it comes to birthdays, anniversaries, etc. I always make sure that the above-mentioned relatives have presents and cards on their special days. But when it comes to my husband's and my anniversary and birthdays, we get nothing from them.
Heaven forbid that I don't send at least a card their way for every occasion. If I don't send a card for my grandchild, for example, I get a nasty phone call from my daughter, who asks whether I forgot her son's birthday.
I am going to try to start doing the same, calling to ask whether they forgot my birthday or my husband's birthday. I guess I was brought up differently than I raised them. — Upset in Florida
Dear Upset: So many people's manners seem to be going downhill in this department. Just take a look at the previous letter.
I certainly sympathize with you and all the other grandparents, aunts and uncles who consistently show thoughtfulness that younger relatives rarely reflect back. That said, have you tried telling your children you feel this way? They might be all grown up, but there are still lessons you can teach them — such as how no one likes feeling taken for granted, not even parents. And if they don't take that lesson from you, I guarantee they'll learn it firsthand one day.
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