Home Money I have three grandchildren in their 20s who never visit me. Should I stop sending them money? Money psychotherapist VICKY REYNAL replies

I have three grandchildren in their 20s who never visit me. Should I stop sending them money? Money psychotherapist VICKY REYNAL replies

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Vicky Reynal suggests 'acknowledging and unraveling the feelings about your lack of response'
  • Do you have any questions for Vicky? Please email vicky.reynal@dailymail.co.uk with brief details of your question or problem.

Dear Vicky

I have three grandchildren in their twenties who I never see because they don’t visit me. Every birthday I send them a card with money included but I never receive a thank you message from them.

Should I stop sending money now or would it cause discomfort?

anonymous grandfather

Dear Anonymous,

You should think about what you would like to communicate to your grandchildren so you can decide what to do.

First, think about why you are sending money. There may be more than one answer: you may want to show them your love. You might do it because you feel it’s expected.

Or because that’s what your own grandfather used to do. Try to articulate what underlies this habit and, if there are multiple reasons, your sense of how important each of them feels.

Next, acknowledge and discuss your feelings about your lack of response.

How does it feel to give your money generously and receive no response? Has it left you sad? Angry? Upset? Resentful? Lonely? There may be several feelings in the mix.

Vicky Reynal suggests ‘acknowledging and unraveling the feelings about your lack of response’

Try to think about this in the broader context of your relationship with your grandchildren. Is it just about money or is it due to feelings accumulated over time? Is this just another sign of how little you feel they consider/value/invest in their relationship with you?

You see, having this broader view of what these overlooked gifts of money mean to you will help you take the next step.

Doing more of the same just for fear of causing upset doesn’t help anyone: you may be avoiding upset, but what message are you sending to your grandchildren about relationships and the importance of expressing gratitude? There are better ways to handle this, which might involve giving feedback, but always with respect and empathy.

You could choose to continue sending money: is it because you want to express love and desire for closeness with your grandchildren? Is it because you had a lovely relationship with your own grandfather and wish to build the same with him?

So I invite you to say this more directly: let them know that you wish they were in touch more often and that a “thank you” would be a big help. It doesn’t have to be a critical confrontation.

Getting the tone and language right can help in many ways: it can give you the relief of releasing some of the feelings you’ve been carrying around; it can be a lesson to them that their choices (in this case their inaction) have an impact on the other person; but the most important thing is that it opens a space for conversation.

The response you might receive could be anything from a shrug and a “I didn’t think of it, I was busy,” to an apologetic “I’m sorry, I didn’t know it made you feel that way” or even an “unexpected.” I thought you sent money and a card so you wouldn’t have to talk to me.’

Sometimes people make very wrong assumptions, and we can avoid this by putting what we mean into words, rather than leaving it up to interpretation. You just don’t know until you start the conversation.

The risk is that you don’t get the response you expected or no response at all, which is painful, but so is the current situation. Also, keep in mind that teens sometimes ignore things, but the message may still have been received.

If you are looking to improve these relationships, also think about what you could do differently to make these relationships flourish. You say they don’t come to visit you, but is it possible for you to visit them? Have you tried calling them after a few days to check that they received the card and ask them how their birthday was?

How about a more personal gift than money? How about a video call from time to time? You see, sometimes we behave like the parents/grandparents we had and are reluctant to try new things.

Coming back to your question: to send or not to send?

Stopping a gift without explanation has its risks: what message are you sending? It is not clear. Is Grandpa angry or doesn’t he care? Did he forget or have financial difficulties? What if you get more of the same, i.e. no reaction? Will the money you saved make up for feeling even more alone/ignored?

My suggestion is that if you decide to stop sending a gift, explain your reasons, otherwise you could be misunderstood and you will lose the opportunity to send the message you really want to send to your grandchildren.

Do you have any questions for Vicky Reynal? Send an email to vicky.reynal@dailymail.co.uk

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