Author Topic: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?  (Read 3986 times)

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Peregrine

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How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« on: October 05, 2012, 03:37:28 PM »
I have run into a little bit of a dilemma.  I recently sustained a traumatic knee injury (slipped on a little sliver of broken ice cube on a tile floor) resulting in myself being the proud new owner of a knee brace, 3 more ace bandages, a pair of crutches, and an appointment for an MRI.....

My wonderful sister in law dropped everything to come and assist me in caring for my toddler and to supervise me and keep me from trying to do anything else too stupid to my knee.

I owe her a huge thank you because it was a 4 hour drive each way, and my son is in the midst of the terrible twos and very very active....Little Goober keeps stealing my crutches to use as a hobby horse and sword.

She won't accept a thank you gift from me or my husband, and a letter or thank you note would be very odd in our relationship.  My SIL absolutely dotes on her nephew...so I know she was happy to come help, but I still feel very uncomfortable accepting that she put herself out for myself and my family.

Does anyone have any ideas for an appropriate thank you gift that she would have a hard time refusing?

siamesecat2965

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2012, 03:40:21 PM »
COuld you and she go do something, once you're healed, like a spa day, or even just a nice girls lunch out?  Some people are like that; they really don't mind doing things, and don't want or expect anything in return.  Something like that is easy enough to pay for before she can, or even ahead of time....that way you can treat her as a thank you.

Carpathia

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2012, 04:09:40 PM »
I think that in this situation, a heartfelt 'Thank you' is all that's required. You may actually make her feel really uncomfortable by insisting on anything else.

If you insist on getting her a thank you gift when she's already made it clear that she doesn't want one, then it's not being done for her - it's being done to stop you feeling uncomfortable. I know that probably sounds mean of me, sorry.

I can totally sympathise with the uncomfortable feeling that someone has really put themselves out for you and all you've done in return is say 'Thanks' because I always feel like that if I'm in that situation - it feels like you've not done enough to 'balance' things. However, I'm also the person who feels really uncomfortable if I'm in your SIL's shoes and someone is being really grateful for something I did!

I like siamesecat's idea a lot, as long as your SIL is happy to do it.

NutMeg

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2012, 04:13:20 PM »
Since she lives a distance a way and is very fond of your son, why don't you send her a little care package from him? You can include pictures of him and her, or just him if you don't have any of the two of them. Have him draw her some pictures, and you can write on them what he drew, especially if it is of something the two of them did together. Also include a few small gifts. She might be more inclined to accept it if it is from her nephew, who is expressing that he loves her. That is different than you giving her a gift, which feels like payment for something she did out of love.
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JenJay

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2012, 04:17:49 PM »
Since she adores your son and her primary role has been with him, what about having him make a thank you card for her? She'd know you didn't have to go out to get it, it'd have sentimental value and he'd probably be very proud to make something special for her.

shmoggy

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2012, 04:23:08 PM »
I am a lot like your SIL.  I like to do favors but I don't really want anyone to gush over it or buy me anything.  Just a verbal thanks is plenty and hearing that the person would help me out if I ever needed anything is all I ever want.  I feel so uncomfortable receiving gifts---mostly because I don't need or want anything---I'm not a "stuff" person, but mostly because if I wanted to help you, that's it...I wanted to help you, it's not a job, doesn't require a reward or payment.  So if it were me, and I were your SIL, I wouldn't mind getting a phone call of thanks and to chat with your for a while, but I know when I say "don't get me anything" I really mean it.

Hmmmmm

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2012, 04:27:46 PM »
The nicest reciprocation would be a heartfelt thank you letter and maybe attach it to a plant or flowers or really nice coffee or chocolates depending on her tastes.  Anything more expensive then that would feel like payment.

lowspark

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2012, 04:28:30 PM »
I'm with shmoggy. I don't want any physical gifts either for the same reasons shmoggy stated. But I like the idea of treating her to a spa day or lunch or dinner together. Or even better, with husbands and your son since she loves to spend time with him. The best gift for someone like that is time spent together where all parties are enjoying themselves.

I once gave a ride home from the office to someone who lived very close to me (a couple of blocks) for a few weeks. He kept offering to pay me but I simply couldn't take money from him for going 2 minutes out of my way. Had he offered to get together, he and his wife with me and my husband for any kind of social thing like dinner, I would have accepted in a heartbeat. That would have been the perfect thank you.

TootsNYC

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2012, 04:50:55 PM »
Just be a great friend to her whenever it is that SHE needs it.

I'm like your SIL--I like to feel helpful, and I like to be part of people's solutions. And I don't really like to be thanked officially.

I hate that we've become a world in which people "repay" the slightest kindness immediately.

Just live with that "beholden" feeling for a LITTLE while, and then it will go away.

And if she ever really needs help, be sure to go out of your way to provide it yourself, even if it's a 4-hour drive.

Or, seek out her company when something fun is going on. Include her in your life.

Peregrine

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2012, 04:59:22 PM »
Thanks everyone, my SIL really is a gem.  I really love her, but oh goodness can she be stubborn.  We tried to pick up the tab for her while she was down visiting aka babysitting me, and she only grudgingly let us treat her to dinner. 

I get what people are saying about really not wanting stuff....and it's not so much that I want to get her stuff, as she doesn't need it.  But I am thinking of having my son "make" her a little something, a drawing or two.....He's 21 months, so his drawing is more scribbles, but she will still like it.  I also had a thought about printing her up a little albulm of pictures of the two of them together.

I think the crux of it for me, is that she is so bent on helping all of the other people in her life that she doesn't and won't take time for herself and won't accept help or thanks from the rest of us either (and in fact, has been taken advantage of somewhat by other family members). 

bah12

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2012, 05:02:57 PM »
Thanks everyone, my SIL really is a gem.  I really love her, but oh goodness can she be stubborn.  We tried to pick up the tab for her while she was down visiting aka babysitting me, and she only grudgingly let us treat her to dinner. 

I get what people are saying about really not wanting stuff....and it's not so much that I want to get her stuff, as she doesn't need it.  But I am thinking of having my son "make" her a little something, a drawing or two.....He's 21 months, so his drawing is more scribbles, but she will still like it. I also had a thought about printing her up a little albulm of pictures of the two of them together. I think the crux of it for me, is that she is so bent on helping all of the other people in her life that she doesn't and won't take time for herself and won't accept help or thanks from the rest of us either (and in fact, has been taken advantage of somewhat by other family members).

This is a nice thought.  I'm sure she would love it.  And since she doesn't seem to be comfortable with the gushing thank you's...just send it to her because.

Calypso

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2012, 05:11:53 PM »
I think PPs have made great suggestions. Also, even a person who has everything can use some nice flowers  :)
(unless she has naughty cats, like I do. I LOVEs me some flowers, but the furmonsters evidently believe they're to be eaten and/or killed in a messy fashion  :( ).

I wouldn't take any payment or anything for babysitting my nieces and nephews either, and this was back when I was broke. It just upset my personal sense of honor (to me, they were family, not a job).

Hope you heal soon!

The Wild One, Forever

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2012, 09:39:05 PM »
Since she lives a distance a way and is very fond of your son, why don't you send her a little care package from him? You can include pictures of him and her, or just him if you don't have any of the two of them. Have him draw her some pictures, and you can write on them what he drew, especially if it is of something the two of them did together. Also include a few small gifts. She might be more inclined to accept it if it is from her nephew, who is expressing that he loves her. That is different than you giving her a gift, which feels like payment for something she did out of love.

Just wanted to say, I love this idea.
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TootsNYC

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2012, 12:47:19 AM »
I agree! Because it's not that she wants to be thanked.

She wants to be *part of your lives*.

So, do that. She loves you. Just love her back.

Keep her alive to your son; have him send her something out of the blue, like something he drew. (I still treasure, 20 years later, the penguin painting my nephew did; when it was time for it to come off the front of the fridge, he said, 'I think 'Auntie Toots needs this,' and my SIL mailed it off to me.)


Pen^2

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Re: How to thank someone who doesn't want to be thanked?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2012, 07:47:58 AM »
I get what people are saying about really not wanting stuff....and it's not so much that I want to get her stuff, as she doesn't need it.  But I am thinking of having my son "make" her a little something, a drawing or two.....He's 21 months, so his drawing is more scribbles, but she will still like it.  I also had a thought about printing her up a little albulm of pictures of the two of them together.

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. A good relationship and verbal thanks mean more to her than any physical gift. So get her something that is more about her and your son. But you naturally feel that giving her a scribble from your son isn't enough, even though it might be to her. So what about this:

Get a lot of photos and some drawings of your son's, take them into one of those photo places, and get them made up into a proper bound book. She'll enjoy it a lot more than any monetary gift, and will mean the world to her. If you son can write letters, or copy them, maybe try to have a very brief 'thankyou' or something on the cover. If you don't know what I mean, google "shutterfly" to get an idea of the sort of thing I'm talking about.