Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Respect

I just had what ended as a very sad conversation with my daughter about respect.

I raised my kids to acknowledged people and to say thanks when someone does something kind to or for them. Apparently, I am out of line expecting adults to, at least, acknowledge when I do a kindness for them.

In the case of strangers or near strangers, I'm often baffled when they can't manage a "thanks," but in the case of my niece, I'm full on offended and saying so to my daughter, who is very, very close to my niece and always has been, caused my daughter to hang up on me.

I am amazed at - and happy about - the extent to which my daughter will go to to support and defend her cousin. It's confirmation that to a large extent, how I feel people should treat each other has sunk in with her.

What's sad, though, is that I'm not sure that same defence comes my way.

Earlier this year, my niece spent nearly 30 days essentially living in my house, eating my food, using our utilities. During that month, we travelled by car seven hours to visit my daughter. I asked for gas money and told my niece that food was her responsibility. She didn't ante up more than $25 for the entire week, gas, food lodgings.

Neither here nor there did she lift a finger. She didn't wash a dish; she didn't offer to buy food; she didn't - not once - say "Thanks Auntie, I know I've been here a lot."

I was annoyed to be sure but I let it go. I know this kid and I know she's not concious of how she's acting. Her parents have spoiled her bloody rotten - not her fault - so she's as close to incapable of realising that she's a sucker fish.

What sent me over was an incident about six weeks later, when we ran into her at the local grocery store. This kid has never ever suffered for money, thanks to parents are generous, very much to a fault and who've spoiled their kids. So when I discovered my neice going through my grocery cart, eating food that I needed at home and that I hadn't yet paid for, I was furious and insulted and disgusted. I wrote her an explained why I was so annoyed. She didn't bother to respond. I know she recieved that message - she discussed it with someone else - so I'm even more annoyed that she didn't acknowledge to me.

My daugther and I were talking about it this morning and she, rightfully so, suggested I let it go because, despite my being appaled at my neice's behaviour, there is nothing I can do to change it.

My question is at what point is someone old enough to acknowledge that despite their having a right to live their life as they wish, they will offend people and that they are, I think, responsble for at the very least acknowledging when they've pissed somone off. I also think adults don't take endlessly and that they don't take other people for granted.

That statement caused my daughter to hang up on me. I must say I'm angry and confused and I feel really, really trampled upon, not only by my neice, for whom I've utterly lost respect, but by my daughter who will so intensely defend her spoiled cousin but who would not rise to my defense.

Am I wrong to expect at the least an acknowledgement?

I think not.

3 comments:

  1. I was upset that someone did not have respect, or appriciation for the time you took caring for your niece in buying her food, driving, car, etc. etc. Then I found out that I have done that to my Aunt as well... When I was in London I was in heaven. I know my mother has taught me well to say my thankyous, pleases, and appreciation and I did say thank you after every meal and outing. I offered to help with dishes, wash my own laundry, and purchase my own tickets, but after they continued to say “ohhh nah don’t worry about it, this is our treat” I discontinued my offer to pay my way. I truly believe that until you niece goes through all the effort to make someone’s life heaven she will not know what you went through to make that month as great as it was. Spoiled or rude, it’s a lesson we all should learn. There may be people you depend on, people you take for granted, but as adults know what goes around comes around. Your niece one day will soon have to teach this lesson to another ungrateful spoiled child.

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  2. I have a cousin who is just as spoiled. When I was a child, she snatched my gameboy from me midplay and walked off with it, and I just quietly let her do things like that all the time.

    Some people are socially blind beyond comprehension, and if I can think of any reason for you to let it go it's that she'll certainly learn her lesson sooner or later from somebody else. It's not likely to be someone who cares about her either! I've no doubt your daughter will discover the difficulties of being friends with spoiled people soon enough...

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  3. I think you handled it correctly. If a person is causing a problem, then you have the right to call them on it. My suggestion is to tell the niece that you cannot have her stay over anymore because of her behavior. You can come for a visit, but you cannot stay.

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