• Keeping Friends

My friend doesn’t know how to say “thank you”

Published: August 24, 2011 | Last Updated: May 14, 2020 By | 18 Replies Continue Reading

A friend sends a gift
to her friend’s teenage daughter and receives no acknowledgement. Should she
say something?



Hi Irene,

My friend is having a hard time financially and hasn’t been shy in letting me know. When it came
time for her daughter’s high school graduation last May, I sent the girl, whom
I had never met, a graduation card with a $50 bill inside to help pay for some
of the extras at college. 


It’s been two months and I never received so much as a thank
you from the mother or daughter. I began to wonder if the girl had even received
the gift so I asked the mom. All she said was, "Yes." I’m still baffled that
neither one had the courtesy to thank me for what I though was a generous
gift. How shall I handle this
uncomfortable situation?






Dear Leslie,

Since the mom, rather than the daughter, is your friend, I
think you need to be frank with her and tell her that you felt hurt that you
never received a thank you.


Your friend owes you some kind of explanation about why her
daughter didn’t acknowledge your generosity. My hunch is she probably thought
her daughter would thank you and will be embarrassed to hear that the graduate
never did. I would say that the mom might be uncomfortable talking about money right now but from what you say, this hasn’t been the case. 


If you don’t talk about this with your friend, you will only build up
resentment towards her and it will create a wedge between you.

Hope this helps.

My best,



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Comments (18)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s common that when a kid graduates from high school people send them cards and gifts. A polite kid or her parent will say thanks to everyone, usually by sending individual Thank You cards. Most people are too lazy and self-centred to do that though. It’s unpleasant but that’s the way things are.

  2. Sunny says:

    I too am surprised there’re two or more sides. The comments on your Psychology Today article are eye opening. I would genuinely like to see the results of a poll. Another question for it could be: At what age should children be required to write a thank you note?
    Thank you in advance for any poll you can provide for your readers. Maybe there could be a section on the forums for poll suggestions from your readers that you could pick and choose from?

  3. Anonymous says:

    Once again, Irene, you’ve touched on a subject close to my heart. I can’t tell you how much I obsess about thank you’s never received. I’ve got at least one blog post half written on the topic but I always feel petty when I’m in full mental rant on the topic.

    Here, I’ll say it. THANK YOU for your blog and for starting public conversations on topics that are often swirling around in my mind.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have experienced this and I didn’t send anything….If I don’t know someone it doesn’t make sense to send them anything and I didn’t appreciate someone trying to tell me how to spend my hard earned money. It’s easy to be guilted into things but I think we need to answer to only ourselves and what we feel comfortable doing!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m wondering about the process of “soliciting gifts” from those you have never met. I recently received a graduation notice for the step granddaughter of my brother’s wife, with a note that made it clear that I should send a gift. I have never met the girl, who lives in another state. I felt resentful, and would never have done anything like that. I grudgingly sent a check, and have not received a thank you. My brother did say that HE appreciated it.

    So I am more upset about the gift being requested than I am about not getting a thank you note. Has anyone else dealt with this, and how did you handle?

  6. MissNoName says:

    Even if the person getting the present does not personally know the giver, or the other way around, she should still know to say thank you to the person, or send them a thank you card.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Because the giver didn’t know the recipient, that aspect might have influenced her saying thank you. I just felt like the anonymous aspect should be pointed out.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If someone can’t make the simple effort to say “Thank You”, then I can make no effort to spend my hard earned money on gifts for those people. People have no manners anymore!

  9. Anonymous says:

    It’s odd that the mother didn’t even offer a “thank you.” It’s not about expectation; it’s about common courtesy. On the other hand, the friend who sent the gift might consider since the family is strapped for cash, the family’s self-esteem might have taken a hit. To say “thank you” means you’re acknowledging the gift, and they may not feel worthy. If the friend is close, I’d have a short conversation with her about it, and then let it go. If that doesn’t seem possible, then I’d just let it go and be happy for the graduate.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately bad manners are all too common these days. I’ve had my share of gifts go either unacknowledged or received very tardy thank yous. I went to a wedding in April and still have not received a thank you.

  11. Irene says:

    Thanks so much for the excellent suggestion. They aren’t too difficult to do with PollDaddy. I’ll try to keep it in mind for upcoming topics that seem controversial. To tell the truth, I’m a bit surprised that there are two sides to this issue:-)  I posted the letter on Psychology Today and several people took the position that gifts don’t require acknowledgements.



  12. Sunny says:

    Hi Irene:
    I posted earlier but I think it got lost. I am very interested in hearing from everyone about not getting a thank you (or even acknowledgement) for gifts. It made me wish your blog had a “poll” on it like some blogs do. The questions I would want to ask on such a poll might be ones such as Do you ask if your gift was received? Do you stop giving gifts when you continually do not get acknowledged? Do you think it’s petty to expect a thank you for gifts? That kind of thing. If you had polls for various friendship related topics, you too could benefit because you would have “data” for any books or articles you are working on. What do you think?

  13. ginger says:

    I, too, grew up with the word “thanks” instilled in me. Interestingly, I’ve come across many people – my age – who do not say thanks. Sometimes, I ask if people have received the gift. Other times, I do not. It depends on the situation. Having said that, saying “thanks” is as important as brushing your teeth or combing your hair…it should be done often.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Yes–this is an excellent point. Money, packages, even just plain envelopes can and do get lost in the mail. So this is a pragmatic reason for acknowledging someone’s gift. Or for asking that your gift be acknowledged. Also, sibling rivalry and shenanigans can cause gifts and cards to be “lost.” My friend’s kids have been known to “go get the mail” only to return empty handed. It has turned out that one or two of them has managed to hide a gift addressed to one of their siblings. It has created a lot of drama, of course. But then, other family dramas get in the way and the “gift that somehow never arrived” gets shunted to the back burner.

  15. EagleWings says:

    Anonymous, the letter writer said she knows the money made it there safely, she said,

    I began to wonder if the girl had even received the gift so I asked the mom. All she said was, “Yes.”

    My suspicion is that the girl was either too lazy or irresponsible or ungrateful to write the Thank You note. Or she doesn’t realize how important it is.

    A lot of teens don’t see what the big deal is about showing gratitude (sending thank you notes) but boy howdy, they sure do expect their grandmas, aunts, etc., to keep doling out the birthday presents and checks year after year.

    post by Eagle Wings

  16. EagleWings says:

    My mother instilled in me from a very young age, maybe starting around age six or seven, the importance of writing thank you notes to people (especially ones who lived out of state who mailed me gifts), and it really took a hold of me,

    to the point that at that age and older, I’ve always sent people snail mail thank you notes, cards, or letters, even over only five dollar checks my grandparents used to send me at birthdays.

    I agree the lady should confront the Mom on the matter and not bring it up with the girl, but I think the girl should be ashamed of herself. If I knew as a kid and teen that one should send a thank you note, I don’t see why she cannot.

    People just want to know that their gestures of kindness/gifts/money were appreciated, not taken for granted (otherwise you feel taken advantage of, even if maybe you know that when you give a gift you shouldn’t really expect anything in return),

    but , it won’t kill people to spend five minutes whipping together a thank you note, or at the very least, zip off a “Thank you” e-mail.

    post by Eagle Wings

  17. Anonymous says:

    It’s always possible that someone raided the mailbox and got the $50 bucks instead of the intended recipient!

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