The Skinny On Gimme Pigs

by admin on May 15, 2012

I debated sending this in for a while because I’m not sure if it’s really an etiquette breach or just something kind of strange, but here it is.

Ever since third grade, I’ve been overweight. This was a result of a very poor childhood diet and relative inactivity when I was younger. I reached my heaviest around my freshman year of high school – I’m not going to post the numbers, but let’s just say I was quite far into the obese category. I had unbelievably low self-esteem, which was not helped by my crippling social anxiety and the fact that I was extremely sensitive about my weight.

My maternal grandparents are amazing people and love me very much, and obviously they noticed my poor health and unhappiness. For some reason, they (namely my grandfather) decided the best way to help me would be to take me to Taco Bell (?) and propose that, for each pound I lose, they pay me $5.

This caught me completely off-guard because I had not said anything about wanting to lose weight to them (though I very sorely did, but had too low self-esteem to really believe I could). I felt very uncomfortable at the time and kind of insulted even though I knew it was coming from a place of love. I told my mom about it, and she sent them an email to please not talk about weight with me anymore. I felt very awkward about this (you have to understand that I am probably the least confrontational person on the planet, I will go to stupid lengths to spare other people discomfort no matter how much discomfort it causes me, not out of selflessness but because other people being uncomfortable causes me more discomfort than any I would suffer at my own will, if that makes any sense).

Well, my grandparents never responded, and I thought the issue was dead. Then, a year later, after picking up a smidgeon of self-esteem, I began to eat healthier and exercise more and started to drop some weight. We had scheduled a trip in December of that year with my grandparents, and at one time during the trip, my grandfather pulled me aside, beaming from ear-to-ear, and said that I looked amazing and asked how much I’d lost. At that point it was about 20 lbs. He pulled out a $100 and handed it to me.

You have to believe me that I absolutely did not start losing weight because of the monetary incentive (if anything, thinking about it just made me uncomfortable and embarrassed), and that I thought they had backed off for good. And, for the record, I firmly believe that they were not intentionally drudging up an old issue my mom had asked them not to continue with, but simply did not get the email. They have an old computer and are, well, not very good with them, so it’s reasonable it would have been lost in transit.

My social anxiety and non-confrontation-to-a-ridiculous-extent becomes relevant again now, because as he keeps asking me how much I’ve lost (it’s up to 85 lbs now, so you do the math), he keeps paying me. He is so proud and happy when he does it, and I really don’t have the guts to tell him it makes me a bit uncomfortable.

I don’t know, I guess the point of this is, am I breaching etiquette by not telling him? Does my accepting the money make me a gimme-pig? (I’m currently saving the money I’m getting for college, as I’m starting in the fall.)  0426-12

Who initiates the transfer of money is really what defines a “gimme pig”.    Gimme pigs “pull” the money from others by asking for it in some manner or by having an expectation that they are owed money.  Your grandparents initiated the offer and grandpa is the one “pushing” the money to you so, no, this doesn’t qualify as gimme pig behavior in my opinion.

When I receive unexpected money from someone, such as when I offer my coordinating services for free for a friend and they give me money anyway, I do one of several things.   I donate it to a charity or put in the alms giving of my church or I save it to fund a nice party in which the generous friends will be invited.   And I always thank the giver and tell them what happened to their money.   So, be sure to thank the grandparents.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacey Frith-Smith May 15, 2012 at 7:41 am

OP’s sense of awkwardness when it comes to weight, money and family dynamics is actually astute, in my opinion. Admn is right, OP. If you keep the money, thank your grandparents, and continue on your way in developing a sensitive but sensible etiquette, you will do very well indeed.

Reply

myfamily May 15, 2012 at 7:58 am

Because your grandparents are doing this as a way to encourage you (albeit a misguided way), why don’t you save the money and when you decide that you are at a healthy weight, use the money to buy yourself an outfit. You can take a picture of yourself wearing it and send it to them. They are wrong to do this, but it sounds like the love is there and they’ll enjoy seeing you happy.

I’m also working on my weight and incredibly inspired by your story, and am considering putting aside $5 for each pound I lose to save for a hot new outfit for myself.

Reply

Bint May 15, 2012 at 8:22 am

No, you’re not a gimme pig. You’ve done this for yourself, you’re doing fantastically, and although your grandfather may have misunderstood, he wants to do this. You said yourself, he is proud and happy. He is proud of *you*. He is happy to see you do so well on something you wanted.

It is also very likely he did get that email, hence the dropping of the subject, and is well aware you’ve done this without any relation to that time. Don’t underestimate the elderly. But he’s chuffed, and he thinks you’re amazing, and he wants to ‘reward’ you by giving you a little something to put towards a treat for yourself. I would take it that way. He’s proud of you – forget that past event – he is right to be so when you’re working that hard, so be proud of yourself and don’t worry.

Reply

--Lia May 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

I understand not being confrontational, but a nice conversation with your grandfather isn’t that. In a bubbly cheerful way, you say “Gee Granddad, losing weight and becoming healthier is its own reward, not something I do for money, but it’s wonderful to know that you care about me and are cheering me on. Weight loss is such a complicated issue with lots of factors, there’s really no saying why some people lose easily or at different times in their lives, but thanks for the gift. Would it be alright if I spent it by taking you and Grandma out to my favorite super-healthy restaurant where they serve just the right amounts of dishes we can all enjoy? I’d love that best of all. With whatever is left over, I’ll buy some appropriate exercise equipment or maybe a month’s membership at an exercise club. But even if I become a gym-rat, I still want to come over and go for a walk with you guys. It’s so much more fun that way …”

(I’d leave your mother and her email out of this.)

Reply

LovleAnjel May 15, 2012 at 8:31 am

Congratulations on your weight loss!

Next time you see your gps, you can tell them how happy you are that they helped motivate you to lose weight (they do have all the best at heart), and that you no longer need that kind of motivation. Maybe that will help – and if not, just try to think of it as money they are giving you for college (which is effectively what it is).

Reply

Just Laura May 15, 2012 at 8:46 am

I really like –Lia’s comment.

I have more than one friend whose grandparents have paid them to lose weight, as well as one friend’s brother. All have liked the idea, since for them it turned weight loss into something like a career which changed the focus in their minds. I’m not telling the OP that s/he should be happy about this; rather, I simply want the OP to know s/he’s not alone.

When I asked my friends why their grandparents do it, they told me the grandparents felt they were making up for the failing of their children to give the grandchildren a healthy diet. My friend’s brother just wanted her to be healthy.

Reply

Sarah Jane May 15, 2012 at 8:48 am

What if you looked at it this way: (Most) people don’t expect or earn monetary gifts for their various accomplishments/celebrations in life (weddings, graduations, birthdays), but they happily receive them because the giver wants to give them something to celebrate the occasion.

When I was in school, my parents would take me out to eat at my favorite restaurant each grading period for making honor roll. That’s not why I worked hard at school; I was intrinsically motivated and enjoyed my achievements. But a shrimp dinner was a nice fringe benefit I wouldn’t say no to.

Perhaps your grandfather sees your dedication to your health as something worth honoring with a gift. Accept it, think him, and spend it how you will.

Reply

Frequent Flyer May 15, 2012 at 9:04 am

What to make your grandparents even happier and prouder of you? Take that money and go to college. Tell your grandparents what you are doing in college, what you are studying and how much you are learning. Tell them about your friends, your professors, your life and your hopes for the future. Tell them how much their financial help has meant to you.

That is absolutely, positively the best way to thank them.

Reply

Jay May 15, 2012 at 9:05 am

College fund.

The grandparents are coming from a place of love and support, even if it’s not the perfect support you might’ve chosen for yourself. Appreciate their intent and effort.

However, that said, if you’ve already lost 85 lbs and don’t want them to continue, I think it’s safe to thank them for their support so far, but you can make it the rest of the way with just their moral support, rather than their support and cash.

Reply

Angela May 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

1. You are not a gimme pig.
2. Grandparents give money to grandkids for all kinds of reasons. Mine gave me money for “good grades” although I don’t think they ever asked what my grades were.
3. People with a history of weight issues tend to have all sorts of emotional responses to anything food- or weight-related. You’re doing something good for yourself and they’re praising you for it. It doesn’t sound like they’re being manipulative or controlling. I say if they can afford it, let it be a way of them showing that they care.
4. My guess is that they would be/are thrilled to know that you are saving the money for college. You’re earning it by investing energy in yourself and you’re going to use it to invest in yourself even more. Good for you!

Reply

livvy17 May 15, 2012 at 9:41 am

Just chalk it up to them loving you, and wanting to do whatever they could to help you be happy. I think with most parents/grandparents, they know the weight is making their child unhappy, unhealthy, and denying them the fullest life they could have. It’s not about not loving the person based on how they look, etc.

Lia’s comment is spot on. If you can’t bring yourself to say it to them directly, you could always email to them.

Reply

Margaret May 15, 2012 at 10:29 am

First of all, well done on your health issues — that is just fantastic, and you should be very proud of yourself.

Second, I get how awkward the money/grandparents deal must make you feel. I have weight issues, and I do not talk about them with ANYBODY. To me, it is a very private and embarrassing issue. However, I think you should accept the money with thanks. It sounds as if they are doing it to be supportive rather than manipulative.

Reply

The Elf May 15, 2012 at 10:35 am

First off, Congratulations! Losing weight is hard, so I commend your efforts.

I don’t consider this to be gimmie pig territory percisely for the same reason the Admin cited: you aren’t asking for the money.

I bet the conversation with the grandparents and refusing the money will be awkward, as well. Choose your awkwardness. If you want to refuse the money, sit down with your grandparents and explain that you no longer need this kind of motivation. Thank thank for their help and generosity. If you don’t want to refuse – I don’t see any problem if you don’t – then thank them anyway and either save it for college/getting out on your own or something that in some way motivates or aids your weight loss, such as an exercise video, weights, a calorie tracking book, etc.

FWIW, I have used money to motivate myself for weight loss in the past. Every five or so pounds lost, I buy myself a non-food treat. Planning my next reward and working towards it helps keep me on track. For some, this technique really does work.

I’m guessing the OP is either a teenager or a young adult. I would advise her that she needs to learn how to confront people. It’s hard, and I understand that you experience discomfort at other’s discomfort, but if you don’t learn this skill then there will be people who will take advantage of you as you go through life.

Reply

acr May 15, 2012 at 11:22 am

I don’t really see that the grandparents did anything wrong here. Clearly, the LW’s weight had become a serious issue that was threatening her health.

It also doesn’t sound like they are pressuring her or making negative or hurtful comments. Yes, probably for anybody, especially with somebody with really low self esteem like the OP, any reminder of being overweight feels bad. I don’t how the grandparents could have been any kinder about this. yes, they could have never brought it up – but would that be a kindness, ultimately?

OP, try to look at it this way – your grandparents love you. They love you enough to notice that you’re having some difficulty. They love you enough to support you verbally and materially. And they love you enough to notice that you’re tackling the problem and making progress.

By the time I was your age, I hadn’t gotten a birthday present from any of my grandparents in years. So, OP, I have to say – I’m jealous. I wish I had your grandparents.

Reply

Angel May 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

I guess I take this in a different way. Your grandparents obviously love you very much and I believe that their “incentive program” is coming from a place of love and good intentions. That being said, weight is not something most of us are comfortable discussing so I can see your point of view as well. I would just accept the money with a smile and save up to buy yourself a nice outfit.

And congrats on losing 85 pounds by the way–that is a major accomplishment and one of which you should be very, very proud! You are an inspiration. And that’s a lot of moolah!

Reply

allyoops May 15, 2012 at 11:52 am

There’s nothing OP did wrong here.

And chances are, even if it weren’t the “weight” thing Granddad was paying for, he’d find some other excuse to give you money (older folks want to give money, but their work ethic still says the recipient should earn it.)

But, Granddad is breaching etiquette here by continuing to make the OP feel uncomfortable (it would make me feel uncomfortable to be receiving money for any reason outside of work except charitable contributions) If I were healthy and ran several miles per day, and granddad said he would give me $5 for every mile I ran, I would feel really uncomfortable taking his money for that reason, or $5 for every picture I painted, or $5 for every diaper I changed–whatever–weight issue aside!!

I would go to granddad and tell him that it is making you uncomfortable accepting the money for this type of activity, but if he wishes to contribute to your college fund, he could do that instead.

Reply

kramercat May 15, 2012 at 12:18 pm

I want to start out by saying that I think you are wonderful. Not because you are losing weight, but because at your young age (I am inferring, based on your letter), you were able to figure out that your grandparents were being a source of discomfort and you were able to enlist your immediate family to put a stop to discussing your body.

If it were possible, I would give your mother a thousand hugs for sending her parents that ‘stop and desist’ email. A mother having your back like that is beyond price.

Based on the timeline you provided, it seems like the email worked. However, a year along, you are now dealing with those selfsame relatives that have noticed your changes towards health. So you have choices to make.

You know that you did not start losing weight/eating healthier for the few bucks that Grandpa would provide. You are doing it for yourself and only yourself..

When Grandpa pulled you aside, grinning ear to ear, to congratulate you on weight loss, I hear him cheering on a beloved grandchild. But at the same time, I could totally understand you wanting your weight or lack of, to not be a factor in your relationship with your grandparents.

This is where nobody on the ‘intertubes’ can possibly advise you. You need to be able to assess your relationship with your grandparents. Will they still love you the same if you weigh 150 or 200 or 250? Is their love conditional?

If you are able to find that they love you the same in whatever package you come wrapped in, then, NO, you are not a GIMME PIG if their love is slightly attached to monetary ‘reward’ for seeing their granddaughter moving toward health. It is their way of showing how much they care. It might not be the best way, but we cannot always dictate how others express love.

So take the dang few bucks. Grandpa is happy, and you can treat your friends to a meal out or a mani-pedi session, depending upon what works for you.

Everything I said should to be ignored if your weight is the only thing your grandparents talk about with you. If that is the case, then the etiquette of this situation is the least thing you need to be worried about.

Reply

Leigh May 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

This might be a clumsy way of encouraging you to lose weight, but take the money with a grain of salt, thank them for loving you, and go buy yourself some new clothes!

Reply

Ashley May 15, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I don’t think OP is a gimmie pig at all. Far from it actually, as the grandparents were the ones who WILLINGLY offered up their own money. And from what I’ve gathered, it isn’t a topic they bring up often.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m awkward with gifts/rewards in general, so I get where OP is coming from, but I think this is one thing I would just let go. The grandparents clearly mean it in a helpful way, and aren’t nagging about it, so thank them profusely, and put the money aside for college, and save some for a sweet new outfit for when you reach your target weight.

Also, a very sincere congrats on your weight loss, I’ve been on a similar mission for the past several months and I know how hard it can be sometimes, so your 85 pounds is a very commendable thing!

Reply

June May 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Frequent Flyer had a marvelous idea: thank them in writing and make sure you keep in touch with them while you’re in college.
How many times do we read stories about annual gifts of money that go unrecognized by boorish relatives?
Also, Just Laura made a good point about grandparents trying to make up for parents’ ambivalence. OP, you said you had a poor childhood diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Maybe your grandparents feel guilty.

Reply

Melissa May 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I think the OP’s grandparents are just looking for a way to express pride and encourage her. I see nothing wrong with taking it. Besides, after losing 85 lbs I’m sure some new clothes are in order. And then, of course, a gracious HAND WRITTEN note of thanks with a picture of you in something you bought with the money. I think the GPs are making a wonderful gesture. The fact that it results in something of monetary value is not the crux of the issue.

Reply

--Lia May 15, 2012 at 1:08 pm

OP’s grandparents didn’t ask for advice, but if they had, I’d have said something like this: It’s obvious you mean well, but when it comes to something like weight loss, something that mixes the emotional with the medical, providing motivation without the means to the goal can almost be cruel. Imagine telling someone with stage 1 cancer that you’ll provide money as a motivation for them to recover. Of course they want to recover! In the mean time, the money might be better spent on doctors or at least transportation to the hospital. It’s similar with weight loss. I doubt insufficient desire to lose weight is fueling the obesity epidemic. If that were it, constant ridicule on the part of one’s classmates would be a good thing. They’d only be trying to help. Of course people want to lose weight! The question is how.

I’m reminded of a story a friend told me from when he and his brother were little. They were both doing terribly in school, classic underachievers who would rather mess around than do schoolwork (middle school age). The clueless grandfather offered money in return for good grades. The older boy (my friend) took the incentive to heart, settled down, and started earning As. The younger boy, at age 10, became more of a discipline problem. It wasn’t anything so horrible as to be violent, but he started talking back more, causing classroom disruptions, forgetting his homework, and generally being a pain in the neck. It wasn’t until he got a summer school teacher who diagnosed mild dyslexia that he was able to turn himself around. The poor kid had been so nice and bright, so able to get classroom lessons from listening and paying attention, that it wasn’t until 5th grade that he wasn’t able to do the work. He could slide by with easy reading with lots of pictures. He couldn’t get to chapter books. He didn’t know what was wrong, and seeing his brother get money and praise for something he wanted to do was even more frustrating. The boy needed a tutor!

So I’m not so quick to say that Grandfather did nothing wrong. He sort of did. A professional to diagnose and treat the problem was more in order. What if OP backslides? That happens. On the road to permanent weight loss, people sometimes gain a little. A good thing to do would be to seek professional help, but will Grandfather want to be paid money for each pound gained? That’s why I think it makes sense to accept the good wishes but to figure out a way to turn the money into something that will aid on the weight loss journey, something like nourishing food and exercise, instead a general treat.

Reply

Miss Raven May 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

OP, this is not a comment on the issue at hand, since others I feel have adamantly expressed (and I agree) that you are not a Gimme Pig.

I would just like to say, Congratulations!! 85 lbs is almost a whole person (a small person, but still.) That is amazing and it couldn’t have been easy. Your hard work is inspiring. I’ve just recently embarked on a weight loss journey myself and hearing about actual success stories means absolutely everything.

To you, and all the other eHellions trying to (literally) work their butts off: ONWARD!

Reply

sv May 15, 2012 at 1:40 pm

If it makes you uncomfortable to talk to your grandparents about this, then a sincere ” Thank you” is all that is required. It takes a lot more than $5 a pound to inspire someone to lose that much weight, but it probably makes your grandparents feel good to think that they helped you the only way they can. They obviously love you a lot. Let them continue to “help” you in this way – you know that you are not doing it for the money :)

Reply

Cat Whisperer May 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm

OP, you are not a “gimme pig,” and I don’t think you need to worry about being thought of as a “gimme pig.” Your accomplishment in losing the weight and changing your eating habits is awesome, and I’m sure your grandparents are just trying to be loving and supportive.

Admin’s advice about “pushing” and “pulling” money is spot-on, and I don’t think you need to look any farther for reassurance that you’re on the right side of etiquette where this is concerned.

If I may digress and offer an unsolicited piece of advice: regarding being a “people pleaser,” you may want to find a counselor or therapist who can help you to deal with the issues you have here. As you’ve already surmised, trying to make other people happy and subordinating your own well-being as a consequence has serious impact on your emotional and physical health. It’s also going to have consequences in both your personal and professional life.

Generally, the need to be a “people pleaser” means that a person has a poor understanding of the concept of limits and borders. “People pleasers” don’t recognize when other people are not respecting boundaries, and are chronically in fear that they themselves are crossing boundaries and will be punished as a consequence. A good counselor can help you to understand how to define your personal boundaries, how to recognize where other people are violating your boundaries and need to be pushed back, and how to recognize the reasonable boundaries other people have and know you haven’t stepped over them. This is a life skill that can be learned and will help you enormously with the way you feel about yourself, other people in your life, and life in general.

There is no shame in getting help from a counselor or therapist. The shame is in not getting help and as a consequence suffering needlessly.

Congrats on the weight loss and hang in there. It sounds like you’ve done a great job so far.

Reply

Anonymous May 15, 2012 at 1:59 pm

My mom actually offered me a similar deal when I was a teenager/early twentysomething, but it was ten dollars per pound (plus, to be fair, she got me a gym membership, and provided healthy food at home). However, I refused, for the following reasons:

1. Would I have to give her money if I gained weight back, even if I was exercising and eating healthy? I’m female, so there’s the issue of temporary water weight, and also, in my second year of university, I lost eight pounds in ten days from strep throat, but put four of them back when I recovered. Would my mom seriously pay me forty dollars for getting sick, or give me eighty, but demand forty back when I was better?

2. She didn’t give me any kind of stopping point to this deal, and what if my stopping point was different from hers? What if I weighed more, but looked and felt okay, because muscle weighs more than fat? What if being around a size twelve made me feel lethargic and faint and headache-y, but being a size 14 or 16 felt okay? (I’m tall, and I used to be morbidly obese). Anyway, there were just so many variables in there, the whole thing seemed sketchy.

3. It was demeaning, plain and simple. The act of tying money to weight loss felt a lot like tying my self-worth to weight loss. In the end, I did lose the weight, but not like that.

Reply

Margaret May 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

allyoops — I’d take $5 for every diaper I’ve changed. My conservative estimate is quarter of a million dollars.

Reply

Another Alice May 15, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I don’t see anything wrong with this at all! In fact, I think your grandparents are especially lovely for, 1.) Not bringing up the weight again in terms of encouraging you to lose it, as requested, BUT 2.) Keeping their promise regardless. I also think your mom is great for gently reminding them that it’s a sensitive issue. It seems that everyone here is on your side, and frankly, that is a huge, huge gift – much bigger than the money or even losing the weight.

As admin said, when someone freely gives you something, that is their choice and you thank them. That’s all. Unless you worry about their finances, there’s especially no reason to feel so uncomfortable. Or, you could say, “Well, when I get to 100 [or whatever goal you choose], after that it’s all on me, so no rewards!” Or, as other commenters have suggested, use it to take them to dinner and celebrate, or for college, or for new clothes. I think there are plenty of practical things that much money can be invested in, especially at (what I think is) your young age, with lots of new beginnings happening in life. At the end of the day, have pride in yourself! You did it! Others being proud of you, whether or not it comes with a monetary reward, is so fabulous, you should be glowing! :-)

Reply

Jojo May 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm

First of all, congratulations OP! That’s an absolutely brilliant achievement.
As someone who has battled with ( and still does) weight and complicated family dynamics, the last thing I would want is to be ‘bribed’ to lose weight by a concerned relative. I would find it manipulative and undermining – I’d much rather have support in the form of an exercise buddy or just someone to give me a psychological boost on bad days.
But I guess society has raised a lot of people to throw money at a problem rather than address the underlying issues that have caused the problem in the first place. It’s great that OP is tackling her own demons head on rather than dodging them with excuses, she’ll be a wonderfully supportive grandparent when she gets there.
Keep the damn money OP and do something awesome with it – put it towards something you really want. Your grandparents would probably have given you some sort of monetary gift at some point anyway. The cash is there as an investment in their future – you.
I got a little bit of left over money from my late grandmother’s estate recently, some of it went on fireworks and drinking gin and tonic over a picnic on the beach because those were a few of her favourite things in life. Is there anything you have in common with your grandparents that you could do? After all, fond memories of your grandparents will be far more valuable after they and the money are long gone.

Reply

Angela May 15, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Ditto what Cat Whisperer said about the therapist. Colleges and universities have counselors on staff that are paid by the college. These people have much experience in the kind of problems that college-aged people have, and social anxiety and issues with confrontation are actually pretty common. You will not be the first or the last person to tell the counselor that confrontation makes you very uncomfortable.

Reply

KitKat May 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Congratulations on losing that much weight. On a side note about the self esteem/anxiety, have you tried looking into a social skills or weight loss counselor? Just a suggestion.

Reply

swiftlytiltingplanet May 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm

You know what? You have grandparents and they love you. It’s entirely possible that they got the email, but are happy to have an excuse to funnel money to their grand-daughter.

I’m a bit weirded by the mom sending emails to grandparents? This is not to say that grandparents are not computer literate but it seems that primary communication with grandparents should be by phone- as really it should be with all primary family members.

Reply

Cat May 15, 2012 at 10:45 pm

The good news is that your grandparents love you and are trying to do something for your good and to make you happy. They are making rather a pig’s breakfast of it, but I will give them credit for trying.

I was more of a gimme pig than you when I was in high school. A friend of mine had told me that his parents took him out to eat whenever he made the honor roll and they praised him for his hard work.

All my Mother ever did was tell me that the only reason I made the honor roll (and it wasn’t easy at my high school because 96-100 was an A; 95 got you a B; 87 was a C) was to make my brother look bad because he never studied. I made honor roll because I wanted to go to college and that was my sole reason. Mother was a bit odd in many ways.

Anyway, the next time I made the honor roll, Mother said she had at last bought me something as a prize. It was a large plastic Black Widow Spider with one of those bulbs to make it jump.

My friend asked me if my parents had given me anything for making the honor roll. I took the spider out of my purse and handed it to him. If you don’t want the money, send me five dollars and I’ll send you my spider.

Reply

Lily May 16, 2012 at 6:15 am

I’ve been trying to thing about this from a different perspective. What if we changed it from “lose weight” to “get better grades” to take some of the negative stigma out of the equation. Having poor grades can affect your life, so working hard and getting better grades would be something you could do as a gift to yourself. As a grandparent, I wouldn’t see it as “paying you,” so much as showing how proud they are with money in hopes that their praise will encourage you further in “getting better grades.”

Working hard for a goal (whether that be to lose weight, get better grades, or whatever hurtles in life) is something that comes from inside yourself, and though having positive outside influence is helpful, that can’t be the primary motivation. I’m sure your grandparents are aware of that, but they want to be that positive outside influence and encouragement. I know if my daughter came to me with her report card with lots of great grades, I’d be tempted to give her money along with a very hearty “I’m so proud of you.”

Reply

MellowedOne May 16, 2012 at 6:23 am

I think it takes a very special amount of love for grandparents to want to actively help with a problem they know is causing their granddaughter unhappiness, but is also a sensitive subject.

Nothing in OP’s post indicates that grandparents were critical people, individuals whose approval was contingent on appearance. In fact, the OP had complete control whether or not to accept, and on terms that were specifically in the OP’s power to control.

What the grandparents offered, as many have acknowledged, was incentive. Incentive is a powerful, motivating tool, and what it effectively does is provide a solid reward for hard work–whether it be weight loss, improved grades, etc.. Incentive will often get people to move from desire to action. It is a commonly used practice–weight loss plans offer various incentives for loss, corporations offer credits/lower premiums for those who quit smoking, scholarships are offered to those who exceed in academic/athletic ability. Just a few examples of how people are rewarded for their hard work.

Reply

Yvaine May 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

swiftlytiltingplanet wrote: “I’m a bit weirded by the mom sending emails to grandparents? This is not to say that grandparents are not computer literate but it seems that primary communication with grandparents should be by phone- as really it should be with all primary family members.”

Wait, what? o.O You can’t speak for everyone’s family like that. Sure, there are topics that theoretically lend themselves better to one medium or another, but there is nothing inherently wrong with email as a way of keeping in touch with family members, and for some families it’s invaluable. You know, when the phone was invented, I think people said the same kind of thing, except with letters as the “ideal” and the phone as the downfall of civilization.

Reply

Goldie May 16, 2012 at 9:21 am

Re Just Laura’s comment: “When I asked my friends why their grandparents do it, they told me the grandparents felt they were making up for the failing of their children to give the grandchildren a healthy diet.”

Ackkk. I’d be livid if my parents did that. (I have two teenage kids, one that has always been skinny, and the other one that used to be overweight, but lost a lot of weight over the past year. I also have parents that live close by, so I can relate.) Unless the parents actually never have any healthy food in the house, that is so PA.

With that said, there is no indication that this was the OP’s grandparents’ motivation, so I’d give them the benefit of the doubt, thank them, and follow some of the advice given in this thread. (Treating them to a healthy dinner sounds great, or, if they are like my parents and don’t like eating out — a college fund.)

Congratulations OP on your weight loss, this is an amazing accomplishment.

@ Cat, wow, that was so strange of your mother, to say the least. Way to make your child feel bad for working hard in school and earning good grades.

Reply

Cupcake May 16, 2012 at 9:48 am

This newfangled “postal service” seems awfully impersonal; when I speak to my family, it’s smoke signals or nothing. But seriously, I think it’s a bit strange to say that only certain methods of communication are appropriate for family, I really don’t get that at all. I communicate with my Nana mainly through text messages – I’d have a hard time getting in touch with her on the phone because she’s always out!

OP, you’re not a gimme pig at all. In my experience, grandparents love giving their grandkids money almost as much as they love seeing their grandkids achieve. They’re rewarding your achievements, plus helping you save for college – it surely makes them happy, and should make you happy too. There’s nothing wrong with this situation. BUT if you really don’t feel comfortable with it, just tell them that it means a lot to you to have their support and encouragement but you don’t want to take any more money from them, because you want better health to be its own reward. I’m pretty non-confrontational too, but they’re your grandparents and it sounds as though they love you so much; I’m sure they will understand.

Reply

The Elf May 16, 2012 at 10:15 am

Jojo, I didn’t see anything in the OP’s post that makes it sound like the money for pounds lost deal is manipulative. I agree that it could be, and that other kinds of pressure on someone, especially a young person, to alter their body can be harmful. But I’m just not seeing this here. I’m seeing a somewhat hamfisted attempt to support their granddaughter in a goal she already had thought that she needed (and wanted) to work towards.

Reply

Cat May 16, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Goldie: If you had met my mother’s mother you would understand why Mother was a bit off center. If Satan ever had a sister….!
Mother came from a generation in Georgia that taught women never to get above a “gentleman’s C” in a class or risk dying an old maid. No man wanted an egghead for a wife.
There were lots of rules in her world. A lady never beat a man at any game lest he feel less of a “man”. Mother never mowed a lawn and Dad was 59 before he discovered he did not know how to use an electric oven. All chores were strictly divided along lines of women’s work and the man’s domain.
They lived in a world that worked for them. It seems something out of the Dark Ages today. She spent a great deal of effort in making me into her idea of the perfect wife and mother. I fooled her. I never married.

Reply

Enna May 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

Well done for loosing weight OP – you are not a gimmie pig as you have not asked for the money. You are saving it for college which is a resaonble cause to put grandparents’ money too. If it does make you uncomfortable when they discuss it I think if you aren’t confident to talk to them about it, then maybe get mum to do it on your behalf?

Grandparents don’t need an excuse to give money to grandchildren: doesn’t matter if you are biological or adopted grandparents see you as their future and it’s a natural instinct to invest in that future. Maybe let them know or get your mother to let them now what you are saving up for – if they really want to help you they might get the hint and put the money straight there.

Reply

The Elf May 17, 2012 at 10:58 am

Cat – I love your story about your mother. As if dying an old maid is worse than marrying a man who doesn’t respect you for being you! I’m glad times have changed and people who hold attitudes like this are growing fewer in number.

Reply

Angela May 17, 2012 at 1:53 pm

Oooh, Cat, the comment about chores divided down gender lines reminds me of my mom. For years after she and my dad split, I would visit her and there would be a list of light bulbs (from fixtures) that needed changing. Changing light bulbs when a fixture was involved was a man’s job. I was a girl, but I was made an honorary man when it came to certain things because Mom just was NOT going to do it. I also thought for years that if a woman took the trash out, she would get sick or something, otherwise why did my Mom always insist that my dad do it?

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: