'Should I Keep Giving Birthday Money To Kids Who Never Say Thank You?'

If you send cash in a birthday card and don’t get a ‘thank you’ back – whether as a note, phone call or even a text – should you just stop sending money?

It’s the question one person has pitched to the masses on Mumsnet after embarking on a rant about kids – and, by default, their parents – who don’t say thank you for gifts.

“When I was a child, I was taught to say thank you to everyone who gave me a gift or money for my birthday,” they said. “This included picking up the phone and saying thanks to people who sent money in cards.”

The person revealed they’d given birthday money to four children in the family over the past two months – £80 in total – and not one of them had got in touch to say thanks. On top of this, none of the parents had contacted them to thank them on their child’s behalf.

“This is basic manners and it irritates me. WIBU [would I be unreasonable] to not do it in the future?” they asked.

Some were pretty outraged by the fact they hadn’t received a thanks and suggested it wouldn’t be unreasonable to stop sending money in the future.

“The parents should be saying it at least. It’s rude not to,” said one person in the comments section.

“It is rude not to thank a person for a gift,” added another. “Older kids could send a message. Parents could encourage them to do this. At the very least, parents should thank the person for the gift. It annoys me when people say that people are busy ... All that is needed is a thank you.”

But others thought it was unreasonable to penalise the children when it was the parents who should be prompting them to say thank you – or at least doing it on their behalf.

“I was brought up writing thank you notes and always got DS [dear son] to – it was great to get him practicing writing and later typing,” remarked one person in the comments.

“The thing is we were brought up like that OP [original poster] but not everyone is. I think it would be unfair to punish the kids because their parents are entitled and grabby and don’t get them to phone/write thank yous.”

There was also some recognition that children might struggle with saying thank you, but it’s not because they’re rude.

“My son says thank you in person (though finds it difficult) but finds the idea of phoning someone excruciating, same for initiating a message,” said one parent.

“He has social anxiety – he is grateful but finds it difficult to express it. I’d be very sad if people just decided he was rude.”

What does an etiquette expert think?

Etiquette expert Jo Bryant tells HuffPost UK: “Parents should encourage their children to say thank you for any present, including money.

“It makes for good habits later in life, and also helps children to understand that receiving a present is special and that someone has been kind and generous.”

When it comes to choosing between sending thank you notes or phone calls and texts, Bryant says the best option will depend on who the giver is. 

“If it is a formal, elderly grandparent, then they may well expect a written thank you letter. A younger relative or family friend may be more relaxed, and be happy with a text or phone call,” she says.

“Either way, it is a nice gesture to tell the giver what the money is going to be spent on or saved for.”

When children don’t say thank you, is it best to just withhold the money going forward? Bryant believes it’s a “little harsh” because “the thank you should be instigated by the parent”.

“You could drop a hint, for example when you next see them, ask them what they spent their birthday money on,” she advises.

“If you are feeling very put out by the lack of thank you, you could opt for a more passive aggressive approach and message the parent and check if the money arrived safely. They should then quickly realise that a thank you was never sent.”