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I am very good about remembering birthdays, calling to keep in touch and sending gifts. As a step-grandmother (my spouse passed away) how do I encourage my step-daughter to simply let me know gifts were received? How can I ensure my grandchildren are learning manners and gratitude if it isn't being displayed by their parents? Mostly, I feel badly about this and don't know what to say if there is anything appropriate that I can say.


Charlie Seymour Jr Replied: How can you be sure manners are being displayed? I suggest two things: 1) Put a note in with the gift, tell your grandchild how much you love him or her, and request that he/she write you (email? text?) that you received that gift. 2) WHEN you mail the gift, send an email to the parents telling them it's on the way and ask for a note back that the gift was received ok (and did Johnnie or Sally like it? After all, you don't want to keep sending gifts they don't like and would appreciate some feedback so you can please your grandchild. Of course if none of that works, send a check - at least you'll see when it clears and money is always appreciated by a child. You won't assure that the child is learning manners, but at least you'll know the gift successfully arrived. Hope that helps.
Posted On 2011-05-26 06:42:47
Debra Brooks Replied: This can be a very touchy subject. There is really no way to "ensure" that your grandchildren are learning "good manners" from their parents, but what you can do is to "ensure" that they are learning them from you. Until your grandchildren are old enough to initiate contact with you it may be incumbent upon you to do it. There are however some practical ways that you can make sure that you are notified when gifts are received, like; postal receipts or online notification. That way when you know that a gift is received you can called your grandchildren to see how they enjoyed them. You may also try a weekly call to your grandchild just to talk, during this time you can also discuss any gifts. It is probably not worth it to make a bit deal of it. After all, you can only "control" your own actions. Work at keeping the relationship an amicable one and just enjoy your grand-kids.
Posted On 2010-12-07 15:27:09
Maureen Whitehouse Replied: If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. Meister Eckhart

I've always found that the best way to communicate anything, is to do so with the intention to share... the very same attitude with which we most lovingly give gifts.
So next time you find a good opportunity, you may want to share a story with your daughter-in-law and grandchildren about how you discovered something that made all of the difference in your life...
Something about the way that showing gratitude to others has actually helped you realize the value of what you have received.
(these kinds of pearls of wisdom and love are so much more valuable as gifts than material objects!)
You're right in wanting your children and grandchildren to want to show/experience gratitude - it's one of the most important ingredients in the the recipe for living a happy life.
But keep in mind as you share your story and revelations about the importance of gratitude, that you are communicating this to those you love as a gift to them - a gift that will make them happier in life. This kind of TRUE giving always enriches us simultaneously.
In this way, you too will realize that what you TRULY give, you receive.

Posted On 2010-12-04 14:03:56
Janet Price Replied: Wanting to pass down one's values to the next generation is a strong desire in most of us. We do that as we parent, sometimes automatically and often with conscious intent. Then, when our children have become parents themselves, we often look to see signs that what has been important to us is now evident in how our children parent their own children. Unfortunately, this is an arena in which we have little, or no, control. Our children are now adults and can parent as they choose. Consequently, our roles as grandparents will probably feel most supportive and least judgmental or intrusive when we do not try to insist that our values become theirs.

That does not mean that you are completely powerless in this realm. Think about where you can communicate what is important to you to both your step-daughter and with your grandchildren. Make that call yourself and check in with her to ensure that the gifts you sent have arrived. When your grandchildren are old enough, call them directly. When they appear mature enough, ask them to let you know when they have received their gifts from you. They will have experienced your example of how much this means to you from your calls to them earlier on. Even if they are already older at this point, you can still start now to make those calls.

Support your step-daughter as an adult and a parent, even if you two do not always agree on specific parenting choices. And, model your own values with your grandchildren. They will realize that there are choices about how to be in the world and you will have provided examples of what some of those choices are! Best of luck in grandparenting with love and empowerment!
Posted On 2010-12-04 13:57:01
Barbara Gilmour Replied: You sound like a very kind and thoughtful person. To be caring enough to remember birthdays, send gifts, and keep in touch with distant family is commendable in our fast-paced society. You are in a touchy situation though, where the relationship you mentioned is a step relationship. With your own children, you could probably pick up the phone and ask if the gift was received, suggest they let you know they got it, or even suggest that your grandchildren be responsible for letting you know they got your gift and to say, "thanks." Unless you have an unusual, very close relationship with your step-daughter, you can't do this. In fact, I wouldn't recommend saying anything. But, let's look at some positive things you might do. Growing up in my family, we weren't allowed to play with the toy, spend the money, or wear the clothes until a thank-you note was sent. The social skills rules have changed with the times. A phone call, an email, or an in-person "thank-you" are now acceptable. However, the hand-written thank-you note on either fun or formal stationery is still the best. (Etiquette experts do not approve the preprinted notes with "Thank-You" on the front. The feeling is that the person should be able to write the thanks themselves and not rely on it being printed for them.) I keep my granddaughter supplied with notepaper and envelopes. She has a horse, so I order horse-themed notes for her. She knows I expect a note or a call when I send her a gift. You didn't mention the ages of these children. For very young children, you could send them a drawing pad and colored markers with some long envelopes, with a stamp and your address on a few, and ask them to draw a picture of them using your gift. Or, they could draw what they bought with your money gift. For older kids, send boxes of notepaper with some stamps. Pre-address the envelopes to you to make it easy for them to send. If you are online, send the kids a fun card you have created with your phone number and email address. Kids are all on Facebook now, so communicate with them that way. Ask them to take a picture of their new clothes or the toy you sent or what they bought to not only let you know they got your gift, but to help you keep in touch. You can be a great role model for these children. Stay in touch with them and encourage an attitude of gratitude in each of them.
Posted On 2010-12-03 10:14:14
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