Should kids send thank you notes?
This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is all about thank you notes… For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting, click here.
Stuff all the worries Michael Gove gives us about synthetic phonics and THAT test when the poor little mites are six years old. I want to know if my children are being turned into 19th century dinosaurs by forcing them to write thank you letters for things I’d often wish they hadn’t had (that make up kit!) or hadn’t done (a sleepover which didn’t include any sleep). The reasoning dates back a long way…
About 10am one damp Christmas Eve (back in the ’70s) my Granny, by then in her early 60s, rang up my dad to say how disappointed she was with his family’s manners. After a brief chat it turned out that she’d posted our Christmas presents from the local Suffolk post office, but not one of his three children had sent a thank you letter yet! It was hard to convince her that we hadn’t actually opened her presents.
Perhaps letter writing is a family obsession? My own mum recently wrote me a six-sided letter of which half was telling me off (unfairly I think, but there you go!). The point is that ever since my children were small I’ve encouraged them to send thank you notes for any gifts they are sent. When they were younger this was a picture or a scrawl – now it’s meant to be a letter that makes it on to the second side. But writing letters is a dying art. Lola,13, is a swift texter though. Often my requests are met by a nano-second reply that says “k”, obviously meaning OK I’ll do that. It saves us all a lot of worry, and time.
It’s for Mr Manners
I also try and insist my children send thank you notes if they do an overnight stay. It’s not just that old habits die hard, but also because it seems like a good opportunity to get them writing at home on something other than SMS or Facebook. But it is rare that their city-living friends do the same – and no surprise in this crazy time-stressed world which would simply pile more pressure on their mums and dads.
Make it easy
Re-use is meant to be better than recycling, so our thank you letters are often on a well-enjoyed card. You can get post-card and xmas/birthday card self-adhesive (or just use a glue stick) sheets. I order envelope re-use labels from Friends of the Earth shop at £2.50 for 100, see here. Nell, 10, would rather draw an individual comic strip for everyone, but it takes so much time that I meanly discourage her. I do wonder though if the people getting notes from Lola and Nell on pre-used cards, in re-used envelopes do sometimes wonder if our family isn’t just eccentric, it’s also rather mean. I hope not.
Now, got to go. Guess what’s on my to do list? Yes, thank you notes.
Over to you
Do you get your children to send thank you notes for gifts and sleepovers? Do you think this is a bit outdated? Or a good habit to retain?