All the Wrong Reasons Not To
Peter Ormerod, “a journalist with a particular interest in religion, culture and gender,” says in The Guardian that we should stop making children write thank you letters because 1. this apparently distasteful task was unduly forced upon him as a child, 2. it’s a charade that teaches children to lie (“sanctioned insincerity”), 3. parents strong-arm children to write thank yous only to make themselves look good, and 4. he never received a thank you letter from his nephews and he was okay with that.
Gratitude should be promoted
Of course, Ormerod does concede that gratitude should be promoted, but he expects parents to find ways that better suit the child. Not a bad idea, but there’s nothing wrong with writing a quick note, considering Uncle Frank might not have a smart phone that receives texts. Learning to write a thank you letter is still important in one’s personal life and the business world.
Once I had to ask a bride, 6 months after the wedding, if she had ever received our card with the cash gift inside (I had given it to her mother because they didn’t have a box at the reception). I was concerned it had been lost or misplaced because I had not received a thank you.
Without ever receiving a thank you, how else would you know if your gift even arrived?
I always had my children write thank you letters. Unlike Ormerod’s parents, however, I let them do it on their own terms. Okay, maybe they saw my reminders as nagging, but I didn’t supervise or read their notes because they weren’t writing the thank yous to please me. And if they wanted to call Grandma, instead, that was terrific, but I know she treasured their letters because she saved them.
The value of handwritten letters
Handwritten letters are lasting, heartfelt expressions. There are also benefits to the writers, too, as they learn slow down, contemplate, and express themselves thoughtfully and with meaning. As noted in the Harvard Business Review, handwritten messages are notes of gratitude, civility, and appreciation that reach beyond the conventional thank-you: “In a world where so much communication is merely utilitarian, these simple acts of investment, remembrance, gratitude, and appreciation can show the people who matter to your life and business that they are important to you.”
You can read Ormerod’s article here. Comments on his post are closed, but I’d love to know if your parents twisted your arm over writing thank you letters, and if it caused you any lasting damage. Do you still send thank you letters?
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of In the Context of Love, adult contemporary fiction:
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
2015 Great Midwest Book Fest Honorable Mention.
Angelica Schirrick had always suspected there was something deeply disturbing about her family, but the truth was more than she bargained for.