Parent wants son to write thank-you notes
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DEAR HARRIETTE: I just hosted a big party for my son for his birthday. He received lovely gifts, and the next day I suggested that we sit down and write his thank-you notes so that we would get that finished right away. He looked at me like I was crazy and said he told his friends thank you already — he doesn’t need to do anything else. I know I taught him better than this. My son is now 14 years old. What can I do to get him to fulfill this very basic courtesy? He has already moved on. Meanwhile, there’s a stack of gifts that have not been put away or acknowledged. — Bad Manners
DEAR BAD MANNERS: Tell your son that if he doesn’t fulfill his responsibilities, he will suffer consequences. Then you have to figure out what they might be.
Perhaps you threaten to return all of the gifts. If he cannot show gratitude, he doesn’t deserve to have them. You have to be willing to send them all back, though, if you go that route. You can take away his cellphone or his video games — whatever he values of his possessions — until he completes the task. You can ground him at home with no visits from friends. If you make his life miserable enough, he may come around. Just be sure to keep it top of mind that following up is a good thing and should not require punishment to be completed.
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine recently confessed that she has had a crush on my old boyfriend for years. She didn’t know that we were even acquainted. She learned that when she came to an event that I hosted, and he was there. She was fawning all over him. It was awkward. Even if I shouldn’t have these feelings, I do not want my friend to date my ex. Our relationship is complicated, and even though it’s over, there are still a lot of residual feelings, and I don’t think I could handle it if the two of them became a couple. They both are regularly in my orbit. Do I dare say anything? I’m feeling like a silly teenager. It’s not like I could be with him now; I am in a relationship. I just don’t want my friends to be with him. Does that sound nuts? — Off Limits
DEAR OFF LIMITS: You are correct in that you have no right to ask your friend to stay away from your ex romantically. It probably isn’t fair to have a lifetime ban on friends dating him. Even so, it is not unusual for you to have that desire. Back in the day, friends did make pacts that said nobody in the friend group could date an ex of someone who had been part of that group. That was a common practice for young people. The jury is out on when the statute of limitations ends.
If you feel that you will not be able to spend time with them if they end up as a couple, you will need to decide what the risks are in telling either or both of them. If you believe you will no longer invite them to fellowship with you, which means you are willing to risk losing a friendship, tread carefully because stating your case could lose you a friendship, too.