Carolyn Hax: What to do about presents so ‘crummy’ they appear insulting

Tailored from a web based dialogue.

Pricey Carolyn: Can a present ever be an insult? For my eightieth birthday, my sister-in-law gave me two flour-sack dish towels. They did have a flower print. One other time a good friend gave me a little bit plastic turtle with “Love” printed on it (from her turtle assortment). One other good friend gave me a field of paper notes from the greenback retailer. All three have cash.

I attempt to give considerate presents, and these crummy presents appear to convey a message: I don’t care sufficient about you to offer you a pleasant reward. How ought to I react after I obtain such a present?

Insulted: Out loud: “Thanks!”

To your self: “Thanks, my unusual buddies, whom I like regardless of your utter ineptitude at gift-giving.”

Friendship is just too essential to hinge on one information level.

And sure, a present could be an insult, however it’s elective whether or not you settle for it as one. I’d base it on context, not the reward itself.

· As somebody with particular tastes and extra stuff than house, a few cute dish towels appears like a stunning reward. The turtle appears like one thing I’d have a look at and consider my good friend. And the notes sound like an try at giving a usable reward. So I don’t a lot see completely unthoughtful presents as makes an attempt to reply the age-old query of, “What do you give somebody who doesn’t want something?”

Pricey Carolyn: How can I reply helpfully to my son’s questions? He’s 23 and in faculty. He retains mentioning psychological well being questions, asking my views about them, then getting damage or irritated after I say what I believe. I wish to hold the road open however discover nothing I say is suitable. Concepts?

Mum or dad: It relies on what you assume, no? Should you inform him you assume melancholy is a faker’s phrase for laziness, then I can see his taking offense.

Let’s say you’ve given solely delicate, fact-based solutions, although. To search out out why they haven’t been well-received, begin asking questions. Discover out — gently — why he desires your view on this stuff, what his views are and how one can be extra useful to him.

I imply, isn’t this line of inquiry itself a flag of some shade? Doesn’t it inform you he’s struggling?

There are considerate methods to ask: “You’ve introduced this up a number of occasions lately. Could I ask what’s in your thoughts?”

And if he retains questioning you: “I hesitate to reply, as a result of I sense you’re searching for a particular reply. I’m additionally not an knowledgeable, so I’d like to know extra about what you want earlier than I say anything.”

· With my mid-20s daughter, when she asks a query [like this], I at all times ask her, “Would you like my opinion, would you like me to only hear, or is there one thing else you want to me to do?” This has made an enormous distinction in our communication. More often than not she simply desires to rant, however she listens totally to my opinions when needed.

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