ASK AMY: Parents’ many thank-you notes are a burden

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Dear Amy: I have been in a difficult marriage and have struggled with health issues and depression.

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I also have two kids with special needs. Some days it takes all of my energy to cope with everything on my plate.

I have felt very alone as I have struggled to manage these challenges.

My mother’s opinion is that people become victims if they talk about their challenges, and so I don’t. My therapist says this tendency creates problems for me.

She isn’t the kind of mom who offers help or expresses interest in my life. It has been heartbreaking for me.

We all live in the same town and we have alternated having each other over for dinner and holidays.

Mom has done some kind things, like dropping off goodies for my children. We always thank her in person or call her to thank her, but she expects a written thank-you note for every single gesture.

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While I am very appreciative, I often do not have the energy or brain space to write and mail a thank-you note after I’ve already verbally thanked her.

My intent isn’t to be rude – I’m just overwhelmed.

After she and my father have come for dinner, they each write a thank-you note and mail them to us. It would be so sweet, if not for the pointed nature of the notes, which imply that we are not doing the same.

It’s driving a bigger wedge between us.

What should I do?

– Ingratiating Ingratitude

Dear Ingratiating: Thank-you notes are meant to express gratitude and to provide a moment of joy for the sender and the recipient.

Thank-you notes are not meant to be used as a tool for passive-aggressive people to lord their good manners over others.

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A verbal thank you – delivered in-person or via a phone call – should be considered as an adequate and proper thank you, especially when it is expressed to family members whom you see regularly.

It would be nice for you to perhaps prompt the kids to draw/write a message of love for their grandparents and for you to send it through the mail – for no specific reason.

I suggest that your folks might be playing a little “who did it better” game with you. So – declare them the victors! When you see them, you could say: “I got your thank-you notes for dinner. You’re so good at that – and I thank you for understanding that I’ll never keep up.”

Dear Amy: I work closely with a co-worker who constantly snorts, coughs, belches and hacks like a cat coughing up a hairball.

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This goes on all day, every day.

I know she has allergies, as well as asthma.

She forces her belches, never covers her mouth, and coughs phlegm into a tissue without washing her hands.

We are nurses and her patients hear her. She also does this while treating patients in their rooms.

Her sounds have become so intolerable that I try to avoid working with her.

I have told her I could hear her in patient rooms when she was at the nurse’s desk or in the hallway, but she just laughs and says, “Sorry.”

I have talked with my supervisor, and I know she has discussed it, but it continues.

What can I do?

– Annoyed

Dear Annoyed: You may be annoyed but, speaking as a potential patient – I am horrified.

Yes, the sounds your co-worker makes are annoying for you and others. And yet I was trapped by this phrase: “coughs phlegm into a tissue without washing her hands.”

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Yikes! (I could spend a couple of paragraphs about the global pandemic caused by a highly transmissible virus spread by coughing, etc. – but I’ll spare readers this lecture.)

You are health-care workers? Working directly with patients?

Your fellow nurse obviously cannot prevent some of her impulses, due to her health conditions. But this hand-washing issue must be dealt with, and all health and safety related protocols strictly observed.

She should be reassigned – for her and everyone else’s well-being.

Dear Amy: I was surprised by your reaction to “Accidental Witness,” who saw a husband kiss the family’s nanny.

My experience of being cheated on was that the deeper, more humiliating betrayal came from the people who knew and didn’t bother to tell me.

I dropped them all from my life permanently, along with the cheater.

– Been There

Dear Been There: “Accidental Witness” kept passing this (difficult) task onto other people. I appreciate your take on this.


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