AIBU for wishing my children were a bit more grateful or showed that they appreciate me?

(56 Posts)
PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 19:43:03

Two boys - aged 8 and 10. They say thank you when expected e.g. thank you for my dinner, please may I leave the table. But more often than not they need to be reminded. E.g. we go out for a fab day that I have organised for them with loads of fun had by all, and they don't say a word. I then say: Did you boys have a nice time? (hoping that they might say: Yes, thank you for taking us) But I tend to get a shrug and a grunt. If I ask 'Have you got anything to say?' I get a mumbled 'Thank you'.

But it's not really the thank you's. It is a general feeling that I am 100% taken for granted. A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook recently of a note she had found in a note pad written by her young son that said: I LOVE MUMMY!!!!!!

I can't imagine my children ever doing that. Nor have they ever done anything like that. Not even writing a thoughtful card on my birthday. If they wrote anything, it would be: To mummy, Love xx - minimum effort or thought.

AIBU unreasonable for expecting any gratitude or at least a sense that my children see me as more than just the person who feeds and washes up after them? I know children can be ungrateful little beasts, but it saddens me that my children seem so unable to show me that they love me (even though I am pretty sure they do).

Incidentally, I tell them I love them, cover them in kisses and cuddles, spend hours playing games with them, have good conversations with them etc. And if they do ever do anything thoughtful, I thank them and show my gratitude. So it's not like I'm not demonstrating how to show love and appreciation.

Any suggestions on either how to cope with these sad feelings or how to get them to express their love/gratitude a little more.

AngelsLieToKeepControl Fri 22-Nov-13 19:48:00

They spend hours playing games with you too, and presumably they are on the other side of the good conversations you have, and they say thank you when you cook and you have said they do thoughtful things from time to time.

What more do you want? confused

pianodoodle Fri 22-Nov-13 19:51:21

So they must do some thoughtful things then smile

I really don't remember being that age and mine are still very young so I don't know.

They love you.

You can't force affection as and when you think it's appropriate - as long as they are mannerly etc... that's the main thing for now smile

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 19:57:24

I guess that is what I am asking:
kids talking to you, being willing to play games with you (even though I don't really want to play them but am doing it for their benefit and spend most of the time breaking up fights) and occasionally (very occasionally) do the odd thoughtful thing - is that it? Is that all that is reasonable to expect from a child?

Am I wrong to hope that my children could just come up to me, give me a cuddle and say: I love you mum. Or an occasional card that says: You're the best mum because...

sad

SeeJaneWin Fri 22-Nov-13 19:58:41

It all sounds a bit formal. I would focus on manners outside of the immediate family.

It reminds me of a friend growing up. Her Grandmother asked "did I hear thank-you?" Friend: "no". OMG the consequences.

MortifiedAnyFuckerAdams Fri 22-Nov-13 19:59:47

just get a big bit of paper with "Mums Favourite" across the top and their pictures blu tac'd to the wall. Tell them whoever your favourote is will get their pic.on the wall

just a tiny bit serious

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:00:25

Are you a SAHM?

I became more appreciated when it became crystal clear that my only function was not to clean and look after everyone. I was a SAHM for 10 years and whilst I support anyone who chooses that, I do think it's harder work convincing people you don't exist solely for them.

But, despite what I've said above, their job isn't to make you happy. They will be grateful later. Children are, by their nature, egocentric. We are their buffer against the rest of the world.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:00:34

By thoughtful thing, here is an example:

This week I had a bad morning one day due to a stressful thing I had on that day. I explained the issue to the boys and said that I really needed their help in getting ready without me having to shout and nag. One of them then duly did what he was meant to do (i.e. get dressed, clean teeth etc) without me having to nag. The other didn't. But for the one that did, I told him how much I appreciated him helping me and how thoughtful that was.

So when I say thoughtful, I don't mean them spontaneously doing something for me, just doing something I ask without battling me!

AngelsLieToKeepControl Fri 22-Nov-13 20:00:39

They are showing they love you by spending time with you though.

Cards and the like will come as they get older.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:01:10

Also, are you loved and appreciated elsewhere?

ApocalypseThen Fri 22-Nov-13 20:02:25

I think it'd be lovely and all but I think they're too young to understand that you work hard for them and they should appreciate it. I know, since becoming a granny, my mother gets (almost!) tearful gratitude from her sons who constantly say they had literally no idea what kids put their parents through, and what a parent a love is.

Keep on going. It'll come but kids are all about their wants and needs, but no notion of yours.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:03:01

X pst

I also have 2 boys. The older (13) is more attuned to me and is thoughtful - but then I don't want to worry him.

Vivacia Fri 22-Nov-13 20:03:52

If you think that's a lack of appreciation, wait until they hit their teens.

I want my kids to mind their manners, but I want them to grow up with not thinking that their parents' love and kindness and consideration is anything other than their due. I grew up constantly being told how lucky I was to be fed and to have a roof our my head. I don't want that for my kids. To be honest, I feel their happiness is gratitude enough if I make the effort to take them for a picnic, for example.

Are you still with their father? Is he expressing his gratitude to you and earning your trust and respect?

ApocalypseThen Fri 22-Nov-13 20:04:17

What a parent's love is, obviously. Stupid autocorrect.

Meow75 Fri 22-Nov-13 20:04:36

I didn't have that sort of relationship with my mum - the one that you would like with your children - and I regret it massively now because she died when I was 22 years old, just 13 days after marrying DH.

BUT ... I also would have been quite embarrassed if my mum had been like that. I don't remember saying thank you for anything like days out, family holidays and things like that, nor did we hug and kiss much or tell each other how we felt.

That's not to say that she wasn't expressive with love ... but it was all directed towards my dad. And that felt right to me, married adults telling each other they love each other, but not parents to kids.

Not any sort of solution for you, but just my take on things.grin

Have thanks and wine cause it's Friday!!!

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:04:46

re: your example - you asked and one of them did what you asked. The younger one is probably just too young.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:07:12

I am currently a SAHM - fulltime SAHM for the last two years. Before that ran my own business. Perhaps that's why I feel like this: if this is my 'job' I get not 'performance appraisals' smile - hence the reason I feel like I'm failing.

It's just that I see my friends and their kids and they seem so much more loving and appreciative and concerned and thoughtful about their mums - whereas as my boys, it's all about them! Which I guess is what kids are like. But it still makes me feel sad.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:07:59

Newtripley - it was the younger one that did it. Of the two, he is more loving and thoughtful.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:09:37

I wonder if you feel a bit down, and therefore notice the negative things.

Also, when you are down, children are (perversly - to us), not extra loving. In fact, it worries them and they can be more distant.

I might not be right about this but I am wondering if this could be part of it.

iHateMrTumble Fri 22-Nov-13 20:10:12

Who cares that some other kid wrote a note in a book, if that was everyday life for her kid it wouldn't be pasted to her fb.
Your dc's are perfectly normal. smile

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:12:08

I think you'd feel better if you had some structure and some thanks. That's only human and as you say, you do get that in a job outside the home. It's one of the hard things about being a SAHM, IME.

Maybe a Voluntary job?

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:12:36

Vivacia: Are you still with their father? Is he expressing his gratitude to you and earning your trust and respect? - yes and yes. He is trying hard. And he sets a good example in terms of trying to say thank you and encouraging the boys to do the same. But good point re their happiness being their gratitude. I guess perhaps it's because they never seem happy with what they have - they always want more. Whatever they have doesn't seem enough. In general I think they are happy. But it's hard to tell!

And NewtRipley - perhaps you're right. I have been down. Perhaps they pick up on that

gamerchick Fri 22-Nov-13 20:12:57

I actually winced at the post about explaining your hard day to your kids. I'm not sure why.. I'll have a think.

AngelsLieToKeepControl Fri 22-Nov-13 20:13:42

I wouldn't take into account what your friends say or put on FB, people never say or write the shitty bits, only the bits that make their lives look perfect.

Not quite the same situation as you but my step sons barely spoke to me in their teenage years, I persevered and spent lots of time with them (when they let me) texted and called often, and now they are in their 20s I get flowers and cards on my birthday and Mothers day and they actually voluntarily visit and call.

Vivacia Fri 22-Nov-13 20:15:48

Glad to hear that things are going well with your husband. I asked because I wondered if you were perhaps looking for gratitude and appreciation. I really don't think you should be looking to your children for this. As someone's said your happiness should not be their responsibility.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:15:55

Gamerchick - I told them about my stressful day because it was the reason I needed them to be up and out of the house fast and not late. Perhaps that was wrong, but it was that or turning into the screaming banshee without them knowing why.

AGreed - people put the best bits on FB. I need to remember that

Liara Fri 22-Nov-13 20:16:22

Is your dh around? If so, what is he like?

My children are 3 and 6 and are extremely grateful. They always say thank you for the things I do, give me big hugs and tell me I am wonderful, all the things you say you are missing. Ds1 every so often says 'thank you mummy for existing' out of the blue.

I know it comes directly from dh. He is incredibly appreciative of everything I do and always telling my dc how lucky they are to have such a wonderful mother. They regularly talk to each other when I am not there (I have overheard them from another room) about how great all the things I do for them are. Dh thanks me for making dinner every time I make it, and thanks me for putting the dc to bed every day.

Children learn from their parents.

Liara Fri 22-Nov-13 20:17:27

Sorry, xpost re your dh.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:17:43

I think it's OK to tell them how you feel. I think it's modelling to them that you talk about how you feel rather than acting on it.

There is a bit of a line their about making them feel guilty but still...

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:18:11

there, not their

CreamyCooler Fri 22-Nov-13 20:19:11

Have you tried thanking them for things and being appreciative of the things they do? Excellent tidying boys, good getting ready without moaning, excellent behaviour on our lovely day out, thanks for suggesting we do this or that etc. It does rub of.

Vivacia Fri 22-Nov-13 20:22:11

Children learn from their parents.

That's a good point Liara. I hadn't thought about that, but both me and my partner discuss this kind of thing with our children, showing appreciation, noticing when someone's done something well/nice/thoughtful etc.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:22:41

Creamycooler - yes. I really do do that. But not in that kind of 'Good job' to everything way. I comment when they do things that are worth commenting on. Even the things that they are supposed to do - like put their plates in the dishwasher, I say thank you for doing it.

happycrimblechuckie Fri 22-Nov-13 20:24:08

Lots of horrible children say thank you as a matter of course, just like saying sorry, but do they mean it? Sometimes the look on your children's face, the fact they have enjoyed your day out is thanks enough, I would prefer my children to show their appreciation rather than just saying a throwaway, cheers for that. Sorry to say they don't change though mine are 19 and 21 and still forget their manners, only to us though, but the fact that they show they appreciate me on the odd occasion gives me hope.

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 22-Nov-13 20:27:14

Try ignoring them a bit. You are their mum-it is your job to look after them, but it is not your job to be facilitator of fun/ guardian against boredom.
They won't get what things about being an adult are hard or stressful, and nor should you expect them to. I expect respect, always, but never love or gratitude, although I do get both, so maybe you are focusing on the wrong expectation?
And, the crap people put on Facebook-it's PR, and nothing but!

paperlantern Fri 22-Nov-13 20:29:10

I thank my kids for helping make my day awesome or just thank you for a lovely day.

it took a few "ahem ahemswink thank you for a lovely day mum, thank you for taking me to the park/zoo/ lovely holiday" before they got the idea.

i still thank them for making it a good day but often now they both spontaneously thank me, even the sn onegrin

PasswordProtected Fri 22-Nov-13 20:30:15

Why should they thank you for " doing your duty"?
They did not ask to be born, they are your ego trip.
From what you relate, they sound quite normal to me.

paperlantern Fri 22-Nov-13 20:32:38

because it is good for them to understand and be grateful for the things you do for them.

I think the gratitude needs to be modelled by the other parent.

For example, I cook most meals. My boys are 8 and 11. DH hates cooking. Most days, DH will say something like: "this is great" or "thanks for cooking this, pork is my favourite, can I have more?" and generally being very appreciative of anything I make. The boys now think this is "normal" so even if DH says nothing, they will say; "This is lovely food, mum", or "I think your home made pizza's are much nicer than Domino's".

It has now become a habit. But I think it started with DH showing appreciation.

Does that make sense?

I do think being the person who cooks and cleans can be a thankless task otherwise! DS (who is 8) says he notices that cooking is a big job. DS1 has started helping out with the cooking.

It can be done, but cannot be achieved by asking for it, conversely, your husband is key in this IMO.

also, throw in a bit more of benign neglect.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:35:29

Fiscal. I agree with that.

Also boys need to see their fathers cooking and cleaning

paperlantern Fri 22-Nov-13 20:38:46

I also don't think there is anything wrong with saying mummy has a busy day today you need to be extra good getting ready.
but I would show the same consideration if they had or were going to have a tough day.

to me that is about being considerate amd aware of others

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:39:00

My husband does say things exactly like that at every meal (that he is here for - but he is away a lot). Agree with the benign neglect - although when that happens they tend to turn into feral, computer-addicted, crisp eating freaks. smile

But this thread has made me think a bit more about what I should expect from them. I guess I wish they could be more appreciative, but can't expect it.

paperlantern Fri 22-Nov-13 20:41:35

NO!!!!!!! You absolutely should!!!!

but you need to be modelling what you want from them yourself (not just your dp if you have one)

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:44:20

I really thought I was - I mean really thought I was. But the fact that they don't reciprocate despite me modelling this since they were born makes me believe that I have failed at some point along the way. Hence me feeling sad about it. It's like a double whammy a) I don't feel appreciated and b) I feel like it's my fault that they are like this because I must have done something wrong to make them like this.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 22-Nov-13 20:48:32

There is nothing wrong with letting kids go feral for the odd day, it does them good.

I'm not sure I would be expecting thank yous after a day out, after all it would have been my idea, or DH's to do it.
We generally ask 'did everybody have a good time', and the response is usually 'yes thanks'. I can see whether they have enjoyed it, and happy faces make a great thank you.

Obviously if they have been taken out by someone else then they know their manners!

I don't know, I can see why you feel upset. My boys are younger than yours and both very affectionate. The eldest brings me pictures home from school with I love you mum written on them and I get lots of hugs. I would be sad if those things stopped happening.

I think children can sense neediness and they naturally shy away from it. It does sound like you are trying ever so hard to be Supermum, and they are perhaps just pulling back from that.
Benign neglect is great advice.

paperlantern Fri 22-Nov-13 20:49:52

problem is often we model the cue not the response.

so for "did you have a lovely day" if the kids don't hear the response it the time "yes I had an awesome day thanks mum for taking us" they won't necessarily do it automatically.

NewtRipley Fri 22-Nov-13 20:50:10

This is sounding normal to me. It really is. I think it will come right. Maybe it's down to their ages and how you are feeling.

I hesitate to say this because I hate gender stereotyping, but I went through a period with mine where I just felt a bit outnumbered and disconnected. It was when they were asserting their maleness by fighting, farting and watching Top Gear on a loop.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 20:51:00

Benign neglect it is then, she says drinking her third glass of wine, typing on Mumsnet, while the kids stare at a screen downstairs after eating take out pizzas smile

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 22-Nov-13 20:52:35

When you say that you've modelled this behaviour it makes it sound like you've done it in a very conscious way.

beatricequimby Fri 22-Nov-13 20:52:47

OP I think you are getting a bit of a hard time here and I think you have got a point. If you take them on a special day out then they should say thank you spontaneously.

I have talked to my dc (similar ages) about this. I had noticed that when their friends come to play or go to a party there a couple that will smile at me at the end and say thanks beatrice I had a great time. Others mutter thanks when told to by their parents, grab the party bag and run. I really appreciate the ones that say thank you in a genuine, meaningful way. When I talked to my dcs about it I was pretty specific eg if you say thank you that was a nice dinner, or thanks I really enjoyed the swimming people will appreciate it.

My dcs now do this. I don't think before they weren't grateful for nice things people did for them. But I think I did have to talk it through with them for them to really get it.

PTFsWife Fri 22-Nov-13 21:00:35

Beatrice - I have had similar conversations with my boys. For example when they walk to school, some parent and even their friends will say: 'Hi PTF's Child' loudly with a smile on their face while looking in their eyes. My children will look at their feet and mumble hello, if they say anything. They NEVER do the same kind of cheery hello. And I always do when I pass people - even people I don't know I say a smiley hello. So it's not like they don't see it. And I don't think they are shy children either.

And same for thank yous. I've had to tell them time and again that if they go stay at someone's house they need to say thank you. And not just thank you mumbled staring at your feet, but a heartfelt ' Thank you for having me. I had a lovely time' .... or similar. It just seems to go in one ear and out the other. I think they are very slowly getting better - but they don't seem to naturally have it in them to do it and it is like training little monkeys! Monkeys might learn faster....

beatricequimby Fri 22-Nov-13 21:21:29

I have had to be quite firm about some mannersy stuff. DC will say they forgot to do whatever it was and I have ended up saying you don't forgot things that are important to you, you don't forget when its your day to get the Beano for example. So if you regularly forget to do what's polite then its because you don't think its important and that's not on.

Parliamo Fri 22-Nov-13 21:30:04

You sound maybe a little bit resentful, and a few other posters have already asked similar things that crossed my mind about whether you and your partner model the behaviour you would like, whether you are happy more generally. I think from your responses it sounds like you are all doing your best, and you should be just reminding yourself that they are just children - they are not finished yet, and one day it will come, even if it is not always expressed in a manner you would wish it.

Slightly away from the main point, I also wonder whether you are seeking too much validation from your family, even with your nn you are defining yourself in terms of a relationship. It is so easy for a wife and mother to be subsumed by their roles and lose a sense of individuality. Is this why you are so focused on this at the moment?

I admit I rarely take my DC on special days out.

And if I do I do not expect elaborate thanks, I do expect good behaviour though and no nagging for treats.

If they go feral indoors, I am lucky enough to be able to send them outside and saying they can come back in after an hour. But not everyone can do that!

Mumof3xx Sun 24-Nov-13 09:18:20

It could be worse, my ds has this morning announced he wants a different mummy all because I wanted him to get dressed

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