Author Topic: Is it rude to offer help or a gift to someone and then rub it in their face?  (Read 3936 times)

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tasryn

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This is something I've wondered about with regards with my in laws. They are the type of people to 80% of the time offer help when it's not wanted and then keep hinting later for compliments. Example: They like to take a dog for a walk to keep fit and their dog is too old to go for long walks so they come over to walk our young, fit dog. Our dog is walked by me twice a day no problems and they will come over an hour after he has gone for his morning walk and walk him again (so totally useless help). Then even after I have thanked them for walking the dog, they will keep bringing it up in conversation to get more compliments/thank yous. I.e. "Was your dog tired after his walk?" or "How was your dog doing after his walk today?" Basically anything to get me to say thanks so much for doing that.

Two other recent incidents (of dozens over the past five years since my husband and I get together) where this happened: My mother in law took me shopping for baby clothes. I selected items I wanted, was going up the checkout to pay and she grabbed the clothes to pay for them, which was very sweet. I thanked her very much. But then we went out to the pub for lunch and she extracted a thank you from my husband (again, fine as he should know of his mother's generosity) but then she starts going to the person behind the bar and then the waitress and saying: "I just bought my grandchild clothes" and looks at them to tell her what an amazing person she is. She also recently out of the blue bought a 15 high chair (so basically $20) from the local supermarket for our child when she comes over. I thanked her at the time for doing that so we don't have to bring ours. This was a week ago. Since then either she or her husband has brought it up four separate times in conversation fishing for thank yous/compliments about getting her a high chair. I honestly feel like just throwing 15 at them and saying "Now I've paid for it so I don't have to keep hearing about it"

I know they are kind to do these things for us but I really resent having it rubbed in my face. I thank them profusely every time they do something for us. Why is this not enough? Why do things keep getting brought up? I don't know why, but I find  these situations humiliating. I guess because I feel like their generosity is lorded over me and it starts to feel less like a gift of a present or help and more like charity. Am I normal to feel this way? Would any of you be offended by this?

Perfect Circle

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I'm not sure they are rubbing it in your face, it sounds from your post more like they are making conversation. I don't find the dog walking questions odd - they are just interested in the dog surely? Similarly with the other commentary, to me it just sounds like they are talking about things they know you have some interested in.

I can see how repetition can get a bit irritating, but unless there is a huge bit of background missing I don't think they are rude.
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Piratelvr1121

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I'm not sure about rude, but it sure is annoying.  My parents would do this so much that it got me dreading anything they ever gave us.  It was such a martyr thing with them too.  "Oh we had to put down so much money for you!" No they really didn't and what's more, they usually paid a LOT more than we would have for it.  Once they paid $60 for shoes for my older two.  Not altogether, mind you as that's not too unreasonable to spend about $30 per shoe cause they last longer.

But $60 for shoes for a 6 year old? I don't even spend that much on MY shoes!
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cicero

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I'm not sure they are rubbing it in your face, it sounds from your post more like they are making conversation. I don't find the dog walking questions odd - they are just interested in the dog surely? Similarly with the other commentary, to me it just sounds like they are talking about things they know you have some interested in.

I can see how repetition can get a bit irritating, but unless there is a huge bit of background missing I don't think they are rude.
that's what i'm thinking.


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tasryn

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I guess it just might be me. I just personally don't know why perfect strangers at the bar need to know what she bought her grandchild or why they need to extract a thank you from me four separate times for the same thing especially when they know they have brought it up in conversation before. And there is always a long pause after they say these things waiting for me to say thank you. I  don't understand how this comes under the heading us things we are both interested in as I have zero interest after one time hearing how they bought their granddaughter a high chair.

RingTailedLemur

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I don't know if it is rude or not, but I can see that it would be very annoying to have someone going on and on and on about it.

Perfect Circle

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Do you like your inlaws otherwise? I am asking because if this is the only thing that annoys you about them, I'd probably just humour it. We all have annoying habits and idiosyncranies that other people have to tolerate or choose not to be around us. I assume you want to have a relationship with your inlaws, and as you cannot really change how other people act, you can only change how you react to them.
Maybe he's caught in the legend
maybe he's caught in the mood
Maybe these maps and legends
Have been misunderstood

The map that you painted didn't seem real
He just sings whatever he's seen
Point to the legend, point to the east
Point to the yellow, red, and green

lkdrymom

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I feel your pain. My grandmother was like this. If she gave you something she would bring it up 1000 times and expect a gushing 'thank you' each and every time.  IT IS rude.

Amava

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It's annoying and a bit rude but I think it comes from a sense of insecurity. They want to feel needed. They NEED to feel useful and needed.

It's like the person who is constantly fishing for compliments about their new clothes, their hairdo, their size. It's like the partner who constantly needs to hear "I love you", "You mean the world to me".

I have found the best thing to do about it is to show them love and compliments when they are /not/ angling for them. Works for children and dogs too, btw.

suzieQ

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What about if after the first or second "Thank you" you just make comments about the item they bought?

MIL: Blah, blah highchair
You: Thank you so much!
MIL: blah blah again
You: I really do appreciate you buying that.
MIL: blah blah highchair again
You: It will be so nice to have that high chair at your house so we don't have to bring ours over!  No more thank you, just comment on the chair.
MIL: blah
You: It's such a pretty color/nice fabric, etc. (But not another thank you.)

I think she probably (hopefully) is just looking for conversational material. You could use the highchair as a springboard for bean dip as well.

You: It's such a pretty color/nice fabric. Bean Dip: My friend Lucy has a diaper bag made out of that same fabric. Isn't that funny? She says blue is her favorite color and all she plans to dress her baby in. Everything she has for him is blue. I quite like purple myself......

GratefulMaria

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My mother does this; it makes her sound clingy and insecure, which sets an electric charge through every last nerve I may have at the time.  I'm fifty years old this spring, and she still needs to hear me stroke her about things she gave me / did for me during my early childhood.  It's an external validation thing with her, consistent with (as other posters indicated) her overall attitude and behavior.

I never actually thought about it at the time, but what seemed to minimize either the severity of her "fishing" expeditions or the impact on me turned out to be the gradual change in language I used about her generosity.  At first, I always thank her effusively -- she has done wonderful things for me and my husband and children, and that's always warranted by her gestures and gifts -- but then I depersonalize it while still telling the truth.  For example, for some reason I feel less manipulated telling her something was a wonderful thing for her to do rather than providing yet another gush about how grateful we are for it.

JenJay

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It's possible you're misunderstanding and it's possible they're fishing for compliments. I would react the same either way. I would not thank them again but answer their question instead and, if there's a big pause after, just smile at them and change the subject.

Was the dog tired after his walk?
Oh yes, considering it was his 2nd walk in three hours. He was a happy boy! How is TheirDog?

Isn't it so much easier to have a highchair here?
It is, lugging around ours was a real pain. Dinner smells lovely, can I help?

I think all those clothes I bough DD are so cute!
I agree! Of course, I think everything about her is cute. This morning she did the most adorable thing! She... *cute story*



audrey1962

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IMO it sounds like they're just making small talk. My IL's do something similar when there's gaps in conversation. They feel they need to fill the silence with something. Other times, they're just excited about something. Some people like to talk.

I don't think your IL's are looking for constant thank you's. They're just trying to make conversation.

lowspark

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It seems to me that this is one of those occasions where complete silence is a proper response. After you've thanked her once, the next time she brings it up, just smile and say nothing. And I mean, say absolutely nothing. Sooner or later, she's going to feel the need to break the uncomfortable silence. She will either further comment on whatever she wants you to thank her for, in which case, you maintain both the smile and the silence, or she will eventually change the subject. Do this enough times and you will train her not to fish for further thank yous as she will learn that it will get her nowhere.

By the way, this is not an easy thing to do as it is very tempting to be the one to break the silence. But if you can pull it off, it should work eventually.

citadelle

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I agree with Amava. It sounds like your in-laws want to feel needed, appreciated and part of things. Maybe more unsolicited positive feedback from you would cut down on the fishing.