Archive for the ‘Entitled’ Category

Service of Enough is Enough: When Should the Familial Milk of Human Kindness Cease?

Monday, March 13th, 2023


Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay 

I disagree with part of the response New York Times Ethicist columnist philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah gave generous grandparents who wrote him about their “rude and ungrateful” youngest grandchild. The 17-year-old never thanked them for the educational trust they set up for her college tuition nor for recent birthday gifts and she ignores them at family gatherings. Her mother—their daughter—said the young woman was simply being a teen [though none of the other grandchildren behave this way] and not to confront her with how her behavior hurts their feelings.

I agree with this part of his response: “You have an independent relationship with this teenager; if you think your daughter’s recommendation is mistaken, you can tell her so and let her know you’re going to talk to your granddaughter about your concerns.”

He recommends that if they do speak with the brat, [my choice of words], the conversation “shouldn’t be accusatory or aggrieved; you can ask if you’ve done anything to make her feel distant from you, while emphasizing how much you care about her.” This is me: She may not like them for no other reason than that they annoy her. Personalities clash. It happens. They might want to prepare themselves to hear that–or nothing.

This is the part of Appiah’s response that I disagree with. The philosopher wrote: “Precisely because your financial generosity to your granddaughter is an expression of familial love, it shouldn’t be part of this discussion. The real problem with reducing your largess is that if she then mended her ways, you would all end up wondering whether you had effectively purchased her displays of affection. This could permanently damage your relationship with her. Authentic gratitude is what you’re entitled to, and it isn’t for sale.”

I think the faucet of their kindness should be turned off posthaste. I’d go a step further. The entitled youngster should be told that there are countless students who would be grateful for help to cover their tuition. The grandparents should tell her that they have donated the money in the trust for her to XYZ university for that purpose. They should honor her future birthdays with a card. This way there would be no doubt, should the youngster change the way she treats her grandparents, that she’s doing it for the money.

Am I too harsh? How many times should relatives be expected to turn the other cheek?

Image by genielutz from Pixabay
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