Dear Annie: My son is in his mid-40s, and his wife is in her early 40s. Every year, my wife and I send them a generous check on their birthdays, anniversary and Christmas. They both are successfully employed, so this is not a financial issue. On our birthdays, anniversary and Christmas, we are lucky if we get a greeting card acknowledging the occasion. No flowers for my wife — especially on our anniversary or birthday — nothing, nada, zilch. I used to remind him that his mother's birthday or anniversary was coming up. Eventually, I realized that he was a grown man and not a little boy anymore. (Sometimes, it takes me a while to realize things!)
Recently, my wife and I had an argument concerning this situation. My feeling: We should send a card but forget the check. My wife still wants to send our hard-earned money to these two middle-aged people who, in my opinion, don't appreciate what we have been doing all these years. — Frustrated Father
Dear Frustrated Father: Are you giving gifts to your children because you expect something in return or because you want to give to them? Ask yourself whether it feels good to send these presents to your son and daughter-in-law. No matter the age of the person receiving the gift, it is nice to be a contribution. That is my guess as to why your wife still wants to send the check. You are correct that in a perfect world, a son and daughter-in-law would always acknowledge their mother's and father's birthdays. But who knows what is going on in their lives.
Instead of reminding him that it is his mother's birthday, directly tell your son that he should get your wife a present or send a card for her birthday. Or have a frank discussion on gift expectations. Remember, no one is perfect, and sometimes even grown children need gentle reminders from their parents on the right way to act.
Dear Annie: I know there are a lot of people who are receiving calls from scammers. I was one of them. It was so frustrating to get up to six calls a day from these people. Finally, I came up with a phrase that has (at least for the last two weeks) stopped the calls. I simply told them that I knew this was a scam call and that they would not get anything from me.
I hope that other people will be able to use the same phrase and put a stop to these annoying calls. — Darlene M.
Dear Darlene: This is a massive problem in desperate need of a comprehensive solution. Answering the phone and asking them to stop calling you seems reasonable. It can't hurt, right? Except, apparently, it can: If a scammer (or a robocalling software) randomly dials a number and detects a voice, it has confirmation that that is a working phone number. The same thing can happen if a spammer is sent directly to your voicemail. Then you might end up getting even more spam calls.
I've heard that playing a recording back that says the number has been disconnected can be a crafty way to trick spammers into removing your name from their list. It's crafty but takes a lot of time and effort. Short of that, several apps have arisen as weapons in the battle against robo-spam. They include RoboKiller (which won a prize from the Federal Trade Commission), Truecaller and Hiya. If I hear of any other good tips, I'll print them here.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]