I have a friend that is 15 years younger than me (she is a sophomore in college). We go to the same church and are in the same Bible study together. I have gone out of my way to help her financially a few times (giving her gas money to get to/from Bible study). She has also sought my advice on several occasions and has told me that she thinks of me as a “cool big sister”. When she came to my house for Bible study she told me that she thought I was a classy lady and that she wanted to be like me. This compliment really warmed my heart and I take pride in taking her “under my wing”.
She posted the following on a social media web site today:
Hey Friends & Family. My 21st Birthday is on Wednesday, and whoever would like to donate/give a gift of cash for the college student inbox me and I can give you my banking info! Thanks in advance lol. Whoever doesn’t have it… I understand and I still love you mucho! Have a great day.
I was mortified to read this. She has expressed in Bible study and individually to me that she wants to grow up to be an upstanding and quality woman. With these intentions being stated multiple times and seeing this post, I thought to myself that maybe she just didn’t KNOW how rude this type of post was. I decided to write her a kind email, gently letting her know that this type of thing is not very nice and does not bode well for her in becoming the lady she is striving to be.
I normally do not correct people with bad etiquette, but I thought this was a special case. I carefully crafted the following email to her:
Hey girl. I just wanted to drop you a line about something. You know I love you and I’m saying this in complete Christian love.
It is not viewed as polite or good manners to solicit money or gifts. I know it’s your birthday and you are excited, but those that love you and care about you will make your day special to the best of their ability. It is viewed as tacky for a person to request cash or gifts (particularly a generic message on a forum like this).
I’m just telling you this because you may not know that it’s viewed that way. I know you are young and may not know these types of things. When I got married I made some big etiquette blunders that I didn’t know were bad manners at the time and I am still embarrassed about it, years later. I’m just passing on some wisdom so that you can avoid embarrassment in the future.
I hope you will take this advice/wisdom with the love in which it was intended.
I know you strive to be an upstanding young lady, and I want you to be as well.
In the meantime, I hope you have a wonderful birthday 🙂
Her response, which quite frankly shocked me:
Well thanks but I don’t care if you think it’s tacky seeing as how I’ve gotten 100 dollars since that post from people back home who weren’t aware of my birthday. Also seeing as how you and I haven’t spoken since Bible study so I don’t think it’s your duty to give your opinion. If its putting $ in my pocket and my family and FRIENDS don’t feel offended its all good.
Ps. I am in no way embarrassed and I don’t think I should be.
I simply responded with:
Thank you for your comments. Have a good day.
I know that at this point she cannot be “saved” from Etiquette Hell, so there was no point in getting into any further discussion about it. I let it be.
My question is, was I out of line in passing on this wisdom to her? 0308-13
Your young friend is part of the growing culture of people who believe in their God-given right to honor themselves shamelessly on their personal special occasions. For them, friends and family are simply too stupid or ignorant of their special day and must therefore be reminded and guided as to how best to honor them with well wishes and especially cash. Unfortunately her family has rewarded her tackiness and it will probably become an annual tradition.
As to whether you should have privately rebuked her for her tackiness, the question boils down to relationships. There are people I may gently inform of their impending faux pas because the depth of the relationship can support it. Even then there is a hesitancy to offer advice when none has been requested. People who care, and that is the important point, will seek you out to find out if something they want to do or have done is bad etiquette. You cannot make people behave. You can only control yourself. You have discovered that your relationship with young friend does not support any kind of input into her manners and that she views her relationship to you as her “pulling” data or advice from you when she wants it but that you are not to “push” it in any way.