Life Advice



Ask Amy: Both giving and receiving bring trouble

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Not: The negative spin on this is that your in-laws are being deliberately disrespectful.

Another way to see this is that they are as filled with anxiety about gift-giving (or their perceptions of cultural or family pressure) as you are about receiving – and they can’t seem to find a way to stop.

The clue that they have received and understand your message and intent — but may not be able to stop themselves — is when they sent a gift “from” their dog. That’s just sad.

Because your very reasonable and direct communication has not been respected, you might get some headway by giving them a specific directive: “We understand your desire to be generous gift givers, even though as we’ve said, we really don’t want to continue to receive. So, in the future, can we ask you to direct your giving to [a favorite local charity] on our behalf? That would mean a lot to us.”

If – despite all this — you continue to receive material gifts, very quickly donate them and … let it go.

I’m sure readers will want to weigh in.


Dear Amy: My kids are now in their 40s and have children of their own.

In the past, I've enjoyed selecting "just the right gift" for each grandchild and mailing it. I liked to visualize delight in the child's eyes receiving a wrapped gift in the mail from their grandparents.

On occasion, we'll get a thank you note back, but more often than not – nothing.

Before Christmas last year, we receiving a formal letter typed on my son's business letterhead telling us that their child "doesn't need any more of your toys and clothes.” This letter demanded instead that we send money directly to the child's new bank account. Deposit slips were enclosed.


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