DEAR MISS MANNERS: About once every two or three years since I turned 18, my parents decide to give me money for my birthday. While this was OK in college, it quickly became annoying.
I’ve always told them I don’t need money from them; I make sure to say this (nicely) several times, every time they send one of these gifts, but they blatantly refuse to take me seriously: “Oh, don’t be silly, one ALWAYS needs money!”
I’m now in my 30s, and I have a well-paying, stable job and a lot of my own money in my savings account. Frankly, at this point, their money “gifts” feel outright insulting. Not to mention that the money is sent via mailed checks, which then become a huge contention point. Every time, they spend weeks afterwards doing nothing but nagging me in increasingly annoying terms -- via phone, email and now text, too -- to deposit the check.
Frankly, a gift that I really never wanted is just not going to be at the top of my priority list out of all the other things I have to do daily.
My parents do not actually care about the huge headache these unwanted gifts bring me, and end up on occasion getting nasty and confrontational, claiming that not depositing the checks promptly causes THEM great inconvenience, and openly berating me over my own birthday gift.
Their behavior causes me a lot of stress every time this happens, exacerbating my lifelong anxiety condition. What should I do about this issue without getting outright rude and severely damaging my relationship with my parents?
Shouldn’t accepting gifts and what to do with them be up to the recipient? Especially clearly unasked-for and unwanted gifts? Shouldn’t they have gotten the message by now, after all the many times this situation has repeated itself, and finally quit mailing me checks?
GENTLE READER: Forgive Miss Manners, but after decades of letters from Gentle Readers asking for her permission to extort money openly, she is somewhat shaken by someone’s asking her how to get rid of it as an insulting nuisance. She needs a moment to collect herself.
That said, the annoyance that you feel seems out of proportion to the alleged crime. As it is unlikely that your parents will change, and as your admonishments --presuming that you are able to contain your anger and indignation and state them politely -- are to no avail, why not donate that money to a cause in which you believe? Doing so may make the tiresome act of depositing checks more palatable -- and if not, modern technology has made it easier to do it from home.
Or, pick a recipient that your parents might find disagreeable: “I do wish that you would realize that your generous monetary gifts are unnecessary. But if you insist, I have decided to donate them to Cousin Irksome’s inventions fund. I hear his latest undertaking is squirrel-cloning.”
You may find the problem quickly solved.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)