Author Topic: Is it rude to offer help or a gift to someone and then rub it in their face?  (Read 3809 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

greengirl

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 15
I do think she's fishing for more thanks, and I would find that really annoying.  I think the best technique is just to stop giving her what she's fishing for.  Thank her once sincerely when she does something for you, then don't thank her again.  When she fishes, " Was your dog tired after the walk?" just respond "Yes, he was."  No need to thank her again.  You don't have to thank her again.  Maybe if she stops getting what she's fishing for she'll eventually stop. 

jaxsue

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 9977
OP, I understans how you feel. My late MIL was like this. Favors didn't come with strings attached, they came with cables attached! Thing is, if we did something for them, it wasn't reciprocated. She said my now x-DH owed her because "she birthed him."

It is exhausting and frustrating.

tasryn

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Yes I think all of you are right that they desperately want to be needed and this is validation for them. I know it might be wrong but from my score I find it frustrating because they didn't need to do any of this. We never asked them to walk the dog or buy our baby clothes (I am happy to do that myself) or buy a high chair for her visits over to their house. So for someone to do something that we never asked for in the first place and then go on and on about it (by the way when I mention they wanted thanks four times, that was on four separate occasions not in the space of one conversation) I find it to be exhausting. I think someone hit the nail on the head when they asked whether I had other issues with my in-laws. They are absolutely two of the most intrusive, controlling, most poorly mannered boors I have ever come across (always inserting themselves in peoples lives unwanted and even readying their sons' private emails because they feel entitled) that this behavior is just the cherry on top. I think I'm going to ignore their behavior after thanking them once. Just change the subject when they bring it. I will only say thank you once.

LeveeWoman

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4048
Yes I think all of you are right that they desperately want to be needed and this is validation for them. I know it might be wrong but from my score I find it frustrating because they didn't need to do any of this. We never asked them to walk the dog or buy our baby clothes (I am happy to do that myself) or buy a high chair for her visits over to their house. So for someone to do something that we never asked for in the first place and then go on and on about it (by the way when I mention they wanted thanks four times, that was on four separate occasions not in the space of one conversation) I find it to be exhausting. I think someone hit the nail on the head when they asked whether I had other issues with my in-laws. They are absolutely two of the most intrusive, controlling, most poorly mannered boors I have ever come across (always inserting themselves in peoples lives unwanted and even readying their sons' private emails because they feel entitled) that this behavior is just the cherry on top. I think I'm going to ignore their behavior after thanking them once. Just change the subject when they bring it. I will only say thank you once.

I'd consider refusing to accept any more gifts from them.

GrammarNerd

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 521
First, have you talked to your DH about this?  Does he notice it (chances are he doesn't, b/c he probably grew up with it)?  Knowing his mother, can he give you any insight as to how to handle this, or if she's just making small talk or really IS fishing for more thanks?

Second, what kind of a thank you do you give?  Are you a quiet person and is MIL more boisterous?  I ask b/c perhaps she doesn't take your polite thank you as sincere or something, so she keeps asking so she can ascertain whether or not you really DO appreciate it.  I'm just wondering if you give a proper, polite thank you, and she expects just a bit more gushing or just conversation about the deed or the item at the time (like about the baby clothes).  I know with my SIL, when we give her and her family presents, I'm often left feeling kind of used or just unappreciated, b/c they'll often throw a haphazard 'thanks for everything' over their shoulder as they walk out the door.  No appreciation for the individual item, or genuine indication that she/they appreciate the gifts at all.  So if MIL is trying to do something nice and is expecting .... more, and she doesn't get it, she feels compelled to bring it up b/c she wants more validation that her gesture is truly appreciated.  Face it, even if you don't like something, polite people will still say 'thank you'.  So she may want more validation that you're not just being polite, and that she really is being helpful.  Or maybe, like other PPs have suggested, try to bring up the item in conversation before she does, not as a thank you, but just to bring it up to let her know that you still remember that she bought the item/did the favor for you.  That may be enough validation for her without having to tote out another obligatory-sounding 'thank you'. Like "Hi, MIL.  I was just doing the laundry.  I washed some of those clothes that you bought for baby.  I can't believe how little they look!"

Please don't take this as trying to blame you, because I'm not.  People communicate differently and have different expectations, and this can be cause for hurt feelings and resentments to pop up.  This is just coming from someone who has a MIL who communicates a bit differently than me.  It was always a sore spot, but now, with age (LOL), I've come to accept it and roll with it and appreciate the positive points, rather than let the negative points annoy me so much.  Sometimes I think that now, I talk to her even more than my DH does!

Third, if you try the conversation thing and it seems like she's still fishing for the actual words "Thank you", then perhaps you could nicely point out that you DID already thank her for the favor/item, without really putting her on the spot?  Maybe (if you're a decent actress), try to go embarrassed-sounding.  "Oh, I'm so sorry, MIL....did I forget to say 'Thank you' for the clothes?  I really thought I did at the time...I always make it a point to thank people when they do something nice for me.  Well, if I forgot, I do apologize.  Thank you."  Look her right in the eye when you say the last thank you.  Then let a beat or two go by and change the subject. 

I want to issue the disclaimer that this is for things that are truly helpful, like perhaps buying the baby clothes (it does save you money to buy other things, even though you know you can afford it).  If she wants to do something that you really don't need her to do, at all, like walk the dog again, then simply refuse.  You don't have to provide her with every single way that she can think of to prove her usefulness.  "No thanks, MIL, I just walked him.  No, really, he doesn't need another walk.  No, but thanks anyway.  I'll let you know if I ever need someone to walk him."

ETA: Just saw your update.  Well, then, I would go with outright refusal of favors (politely, of course): "No, thank you.  I can handle it" with 'it' being walking the dog or buying baby clothes.  And if you do let them do something to save the peace, then try the polite way to call them out: "Oh, I thought I already said thank you when you bought the clothes.  Didn't I say 'thank you'?" 

And maybe you should consider limiting their access to you, your lives, and your home a bit more.  I mean, how do they even have access to your DH's email?  Lock the computer or the phone!
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 10:29:19 AM by GrammarNerd »

delabela

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 565
Your last post makes clear that there is more to the relationship than just this issue.  However, looking at just this issue, it's tough to say they are rude or fishing for compliments.  It does really come off as they don't know how to really meaningfully interact with you and your husband, and this is a way to do it.  Is this a first grandchild?  I could see my MIL gushing to a random clerk that she bought clothes for her grandchild out of excitement.  I agree that you only need to thank them once, and after than deflect anything that might be fishing for a compliment. 

(OT but why on earth is your husband letting them read his email?)

Sharnita

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 21246
To me it sounds like small talk but I don't know them. Does your DH agree that it is just an aytpt to keep the thank yous coming?

citadelle

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 491
  • fully functional & aesthetically pleasing
Yes I think all of you are right that they desperately want to be needed and this is validation for them. I know it might be wrong but from my score I find it frustrating because they didn't need to do any of this. We never asked them to walk the dog or buy our baby clothes (I am happy to do that myself) or buy a high chair for her visits over to their house. So for someone to do something that we never asked for in the first place and then go on and on about it (by the way when I mention they wanted thanks four times, that was on four separate occasions not in the space of one conversation) I find it to be exhausting. I think someone hit the nail on the head when they asked whether I had other issues with my in-laws. They are absolutely two of the most intrusive, controlling, most poorly mannered boors I have ever come across (always inserting themselves in peoples lives unwanted and even readying their sons' private emails because they feel entitled) that this behavior is just the cherry on top. I think I'm going to ignore their behavior after thanking them once. Just change the subject when they bring it. I will only say thank you once.

Since they want to be needed and included, and are doing things that you do not need, perhaps you could suggest other ways for them to be helpful. From here, it really sounds like they are trying to please you. I am sure it is annoying, but I am looking at it from the standpoint of what they want which may be causing this behavior. It sounds like they want to help but do not know how/what you actually need.

Hmmmmm

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6096
Yes I think all of you are right that they desperately want to be needed and this is validation for them. I know it might be wrong but from my score I find it frustrating because they didn't need to do any of this. We never asked them to walk the dog or buy our baby clothes (I am happy to do that myself) or buy a high chair for her visits over to their house. So for someone to do something that we never asked for in the first place and then go on and on about it (by the way when I mention they wanted thanks four times, that was on four separate occasions not in the space of one conversation) I find it to be exhausting. I think someone hit the nail on the head when they asked whether I had other issues with my in-laws. They are absolutely two of the most intrusive, controlling, most poorly mannered boors I have ever come across (always inserting themselves in peoples lives unwanted and even readying their sons' private emails because they feel entitled) that this behavior is just the cherry on top. I think I'm going to ignore their behavior after thanking them once. Just change the subject when they bring it. I will only say thank you once.

If you do feel this way, then I think you start turning down any offers to help or turn it into confirming they are doing it for their own convenience. 
"FIL, the dog doesn't need to be walked as I've arleady done it but if your wanting a walking companion you are free to take him." and when he returns "Did you have a good walk?  I'm glad doggie was able to go with you so you had a companion."  Then he has to thank you for allowing your dog to accompany him.
"MIL, thanks for the offer to buy the clothes but I'd rather you not."
"MIL, I'm glad you found a highchair so cheap.  It'll be convenient for you when we visit."

And for the pub situation "Yes, I dont' know why she insisted on buying the clothes I picked out. It makes me wonder if she thinks her son can't afford to cloth his newborn."

Or just thank them once and be done with it and smile the other times they bring it up.

Mikayla

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 3972
I think the update is a gamechanger.  If you have serious, major boundary problems with them, the forced thank-you's are just a symptom of the real issue.  You can treat the "symptom" by deflecting, thanking one time, refusing to accept, etc.  But it won't solve the underlying, and much bigger, problem.

Lynn2000

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 4149
GrammarNerd has some great questions and advice. I especially agree with the idea that it may be time (with your DH's help) to limit contact with them and set boundaries--okay, you can't control that they bought a highchair for use in their house, but there is no reason why you can't say 'no' when they come to your house and want to walk your dog. I realize that if you're used to doing this, and especially if your DH doesn't see the problem, this behavior (of yours) can be difficult to change, and it will likely result in some unpleasantness. But it's either that, or you keep putting up with boundary trampling.

On the specific issue you started with, I completely agree that it's irritating and rude. To me it smacks of insecurity and neediness. Actually my boss does something similar. She honestly is quite generous in useful ways, but she will solicit thanks multiple times for the same act. I remember once at a staff meeting she announced that some of us were getting bonuses for working extra hours, when other bosses would have just made us work the extra hours under our regular salaries. Although we had all previously thanked her privately when she first told us personally about the bonuses, she proceeded to lead us in a chorus of thanking her again. She literally said, "Everyone say, 'Thank you, Dr. Smith!'" There is nothing that kills the spirit of appreciation faster, IMO.

The way I deal with this: I always thank her immediately for something that deserves thanks, if possible before she solicits it. E.g., she brings a cake bought at personal expense for someone's birthday, I hop up to take it from her and say something like, "This looks so good! Thanks for bringing it." So it's thank-you PLUS a compliment (but not gushing, it feeds the beast too much). But, she only gets that from me once. I don't fall for the solicitation of more thanks. I might smile and nod, or converse on the subject generally ("Yeah, chocolate cake is my favorite kind"), but no more thanking.

She tends to be over-dramatic generally, and I tend to be low-key generally, so I make that work for me--she wants me to get all excited about something and I'm just like, "Yeah, that was nice." So over the years she's come to expect this sort of reaction from me and just goes to other people for her drama dosage. It's a bit sad because some things I would like to show more excitement about, but it's not good to feed into her drama that way.
~Lynn2000

fountainof

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 570
I guess I am just not as generous in my analysis of the situation as I think the MILs action is just like peolpe who are martyrs.  It is attention seeking rather than insecurity.  I also don't think people who need to be told they are great all the time are insecure either, it is a ploy to make everything always about themselves.

I personally wouldn't give the attention, once people learn you won't play into their mani[ulation they will often stop.  Or else if it were someone I were close to(like my mom) I would insist on paying for the items and cite "well you always have these strings attached to your gifts I would rather not bother".

tasryn

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 38
Yes fountainof you absolutely have it right. If you could see this stuff in person, it is absolutely attention seeking. One time, we went with my mom and my daughter to lunch. During lunch, my MIL refused to eat her meal at any time even if my mom and I offered to take the baby from her so she could eat (this was when baby was too small for a high chair and didn't like to sit quietly in her car seat or stroller at the table). She kept going on about how she needed to maximise every moment because "she never sees her grandchild". My mom who was there lives in a foreign country and sees her every 5-6 months or so. My MIL sees her every week-I make sure we get in at least a 2-3 hour visit every week so they can see our baby. She absolutely was playing the martyr role and begging for attention or to have people tell her how terrible I was for not letting her see her grandchild more. That's why these comments annoy me-it's like she gets her validation from a human being by doing things for people they don't necessarily want or need and then making them tell her over and over again how wonderful she is. It's all about her-I just find it to be too much weight on my shoulders trying to validate her ego every time she does some small things for me. It's a lot of pressure for her to put on her family.

TootsNYC

  • A Pillar of the Forum
  • *****
  • Posts: 28796
Yes I think all of you are right that they desperately want to be needed and this is validation for them. I know it might be wrong but from my score I find it frustrating because they didn't need to do any of this. We never asked them to walk the dog or buy our baby clothes (I am happy to do that myself) or buy a high chair for her visits over to their house. So for someone to do something that we never asked for in the first place and then go on and on about it (by the way when I mention they wanted thanks four times, that was on four separate occasions not in the space of one conversation) I find it to be exhausting. . . . I think I'm going to ignore their behavior after thanking them once. Just change the subject when they bring it. I will only say thank you once.

If you do feel this way, then I think you start turning down any offers to help or turn it into confirming they are doing it for their own convenience. 
"FIL, the dog doesn't need to be walked as I've arleady done it but if your wanting a walking companion you are free to take him." and when he returns "Did you have a good walk?  I'm glad doggie was able to go with you so you had a companion."  Then he has to thank you for allowing your dog to accompany him.
"MIL, thanks for the offer to buy the clothes but I'd rather you not."
"MIL, I'm glad you found a highchair so cheap.  It'll be convenient for you when we visit."

And for the pub situation "Yes, I dont' know why she insisted on buying the clothes I picked out. It makes me wonder if she thinks her son can't afford to cloth his newborn."

Or just thank them once and be done with it and smile the other times they bring it up.

Or don't thank them at all. Hmmmm has an interesting take on this, in recasting these things as NOT being about you at all.

You don't need to EVER thank them for walking the dog in the way that they do, so don't. Just say, "I'm glad you had fun." "It's good that Pooch is young enough to keep you company."

So say, "smart idea" about the high chair. And avoid ever having them buy clothes.
(you don't like MIL that much, so don't take her shopping with you)

And if she does bring up the clothes, then maybe even don't say thank-you much at all. Say, "Oh, thanks!" and then never say it again. Don't be effusive in your thanks; be matter-of-fact. Then when she brings up the clothes again, say stuff about *the clothes*--"yes, they're cute clothes."  Or say, "hmm, yes."

You might find that you resent it less (as someone upstream said) if you aren't thanking and living with the burden of never-resolved gratitude. So focus on "you enjoyed this" or "that's a good idea / cute clothes." Even "Yes, DD will like those clothes" is probably less annoying than "I'm so grateful."

And it'll satisfy their need to feel important, because they'll be the center of the conversation anyway.

LifeOnPluto

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6206
    • Blog
How annoying. I'd definitely thank them once for any favours they do, but stop after that.

And I agree with other posters about the dog-walking. It's your dog, so you have the right to set some boundaries. If they feel they have the right to spend time with your dog whenever they please, imagine what they'll be like with your daughter.