DEAR ABBY: My daughter, "Sybil," has had a boyfriend I'll call "Todd" for about five years, through high school and now college. They are considering marriage. They have exchanged gifts for birthdays and holidays, but Todd's participation has always been reluctant.
Recently, Sybil treated Todd to dinner at an expensive restaurant and gave him a gift for his 21st birthday. She was happy to do it, and he seemed very appreciative. When her birthday came, she received only a card and a phone call from Todd, even though they live in the same town. She was hurt, and it strained their relationship. Todd's excuse was that gifts are "materialistic." Sybil and I believe that a gift of any size would have been a thoughtful remembrance.
Abby, I am concerned that this could become a habit. I have known women who have been lucky to get even a nod from their significant others on their special days and, as a result, I have seen sorrow every year when their days roll around. Why should they have to grin and bear it, or nag their partners? Will you please share how this matter can be tactfully handled? -- A MOM IN WASHINGTON
DEAR MOM: If you are on comfortable terms with Todd, try a candid, confidential talk with him. Bear in mind that upbringing has everything to do with how one views gift-giving. Todd's family may have a different value system.
Explain how important a gesture of remembrance is in your family. If Todd is made out of the right stuff, he will adjust and acknowledge Sybil's special days. If not, she will have to decide if Todd is the man for her.