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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.

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

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!

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?

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.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 20:39:00

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 20:38:46

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

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

Fiscal. I agree with that.

Also boys need to see their fathers cooking and cleaning

also, throw in a bit more of benign neglect.

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.

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.

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 20:29:10

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

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!

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.

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.

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.

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