Social Question

AshlynM's avatar

Is it tacky for a grown adult child to ask their parents for any type of present without being asked what they want?

Asked by AshlynM (6475 points ) August 20th, 2012

By adult I mean any child over 21.
Whether it’s birthday or Christmas or even just cash?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

30 Answers

woodcutter's avatar

I think presumptuous is a better word. Isn’t “adult child” an oxymoron?

AshlynM's avatar

@woodcutter “Isn’t adult child an oxymoron?” Maybe, but I think it’s one of those things where it could be left open to discussion.

YARNLADY's avatar

I suppose it depends on how close they are. In my family, everyone feels free to say what they want others to get them because it’s just understood there will be gifts.

Bellatrix's avatar

I appreciate when my children suggest things they would like. I want to buy them things they actually need or will appreciate. They don’t do it in a presumptuous way. Rather they say something like “Mum, I had an idea for my birthday… I really need… ”. I can always say no or ignore their suggestions.

jca's avatar

Yes. When asked, I offer suggestions. If not asked it’s tacky IMHO.

keobooks's avatar

If they don’t ask you what you want, just TELL them. Don’t sit around waiting to be asked. Sometimes you have to TELL people how you want to be treated instead of expecting people to read your minds.

Shippy's avatar

I think it depends on the family, some encourage that some don’t. There could also be financial pressures so a grown child should be aware of that also.

JLeslie's avatar

@woodcutter I don’t see anything wrong with the term “adult child.” It’s understood.

@AshlynM I think it depends on the family. First, 21 is not really very adult from a parent’s point of view in America I would think. 21 year olds are often still in college or just really getting out on their own. Most parents still want to help their kids here and there when a child is still so young if they have the money to be able to do so. If you example was a 30 year old, then it would be very different in my mind.

If the family tends to always give birthday presents forever to each other, then probably nothing wrong with someone saying what they want for their birthday. I would never do it, I wouldn’t expect anythng for my birthday. My parents give me money every year, but if they didn’t one year I would not care for a second, and I would not say anything. So, even though they do give me money every year and have set a orecedent, I personally wouldn’t say anything. But, maybe money is different than a present given at a party or dinner.

However, my parents do have some rituals when they come to visit me. One is to take me shopping, sometimes my husband too, and I never pay them back. I tried the first couple times, and then stopped offering. Plus, they many times give me extra money when they visit. A little gift money at the end of their stay. So, anyway, I do presume when we go shopping they will pay for everything at this point at the checkout, but generally it is inexpensive things, maybe it all adds up to $50—$150. $150 if my husband came along also, which he doesn’t always do, and sometimes even with us both it is less than $100, it just depends.

So, I guess when my parents visit is kind of the birthday/Christmas situation for me.

wundayatta's avatar

Not in my family. it would be pretty embarrassing when you didn’t get a present. Hopefully it wouldn’t take you too long to learn not to ask. Or presume. You might just end up talking yourself out of an inheritance if you kept up with that attitude.

But that’s just my family. Your mileage may vary.

gailcalled's avatar

In my family, we always ask all adults what they want and suggest that they are free to volunteer opinions. We do and they do. It seems a non-issue to me.

Ponderer983's avatar

Nope. if I provide a list, I get what I want. If I don’t provide a list, I get nothing or stuff I have no use for. We’ve always been like this in our family. We know we are giving each other gifts for bdays and holidays, so we all send the lists around so as not to disappoint people. And to eliminate having to figure out what to get those difficult people!

mrrich724's avatar

I think it depends on the family’s standards.

By my own standards, we typically reserve gifts for children, other than for our significant others.

So I might find it at least mildly tacky, and may translate it as an attitude of entitlement.

If a grown person asked me for something without warrant, I’d respond with, “well go out and get it.”

woodcutter's avatar

@AshlynM Well depending on what one’s religious beliefs are, all of us are children. When people recall things in their childhood it would seem odd if they would be thinking of times after school years though.When they are expected to make and be responsible for their own decisions they aren’t children legally maybe in their minds they are..To be an adult and expect stuff regularly from their parents makes me think the family is pretty well off or the offspring are spoiled.

Nullo's avatar

I always feel that the nature of a gift should remain undisclosed. The mystery stokes anticipation and makes the unveiling that much sweeter.
I’ll make suggestions if pressed for details – usually a smallish thing that would be useful, or a category of possible gifts. I would never flat-out ask for a specific present.

@woodcutter @AshlynM How do you refer to one’s adult progeny, then?

woodcutter's avatar

@Nullo I would say “son” or “daughter” would do nicely because they are adults..
I don’t call my mother and say to her this (insert object) would make a cool B-day present. It is presumptuous to expect goodies especially when I’m in my 50’s but even much younger people shouldn’t bring it up. Tacky might apply but it just misses the mark by a little. I never had the mindset to expect such gratuities because we have never been a rich family. Now maybe the Kardashian brats are all over their parents for stuff because they clearly have gotten accustomed to getting what they want and they aren’t so off -putting to them.

Nullo's avatar

@woodcutter But collectively? Say there’s ten of ‘em.

@mrrich724 I remember noting how the gifting dynamic changed once I had a stable income. Things once only accessible as gifts were just a few hours of corporate service away. Interesting.

woodcutter's avatar

Collectively? My sons, my daughters, or possibly my boys. The girls. Referring to them as children in mixed company might embarrass them. Soldiers fighting on the front lines dodging shells get to be called “our boys” but calling them “our children” seems to go too far back.

Yeah, money can change everything but if you never had that mind set it might make one feel like they’re being taken for granted. Like if I were to win a big lotto, I would get no peace. You suddenly are perceived in a different light and I’m not sure I would like it.

keobooks's avatar

Going all the way back to the beginning of the thread…

The OP does something that aggravates me. Lots of people do this and I don’t understand it at all. Why do people get mad when someone doesn’t behave the way you want them to when you’ve never TOLD them how you’d like to be treated? What’s wrong with coming right out and saying “My turn. Ask me what I want now!”

It would be nice if everyone was courteous and kind and immediately thought of the other person, but most people don’t do that. There are kind ways to “train” people to treat you the way you want to be treated. Ask for acknowledgement. Ask for kind words. Ask for compliments. It works.

Sometimes people just need some gentle reminders. If you’re sitting around upset that people haven’t magically changed their bad manners when dealing with you, it’s your own fault. Sorry. But it’s true.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks I’m not sure the OP was coming from that place. It seemed to me she was just asking for other people’s opinions. She might be the adult child who gave a list to her parents. We don’t know.

woodcutter's avatar

If adults are asking their parents for stuff it is probably because they have done it so much in the past it is expected behavior if the parents are good for it. I wonder with all the financial crash that wiped out so many pensions and savings, there may not be the same willingness to treat the “kids” especially if the moms and dads have had to maybe come out of retirement and get jobs just to make ends meet. The older you get, the more costly life gets per person when you figure in health care, which is a biggie that young people don’t worry about as much.

mrrich724's avatar

@Nullo exactly! Once I had a regular income, if I wanted something, I would just buy it. I think that’s when my attitude about gifts shifted.

keobooks's avatar

I kind of wish that gifts were taken out of the equation for Christmas, btw. I think about what a great holiday it would be with just the food, music and family gathering.

Gifts can add stress because it can highlight budget differences. I get stressed out that my brother in laws give us much nicer gifts than we can afford to give them. And then there’s getting presents for our parents – trying to get something nice when they already have everything. Then there’s just that huge chunk of cash you have to dish out all at once basically getting a birthday present for every single family member. Combine that with most of the birthdays in my family are in November – December and it’s a financial and emotional hassle.

JLeslie's avatar

@keobooks When I was younger we used to be critical of all the gift giving people do at Christmas. Being Jewish only the kids received gifts at chanukah, as we got older we received money. Adults did not give other adults gifts, except adult children might still get checks from their parents, and maybe spouses did a little something for each other, but many times not. There was no expectation of gifts among adults, not the money either, and certainly no adults were opening their chanukah money at a family party and comparing. So, there was not of that pressure for gifts under the tree and the big surprise. Now the Jews seem to be catching up more and more with the whole gift giving holiday thing in America. I still don’t see it very often among Jewish people, but I do see it more, and the decorations and all that.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie—In one Jewish family as early as the 1950’s they used to give a gift for each day of chanukah, 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7. I envied them.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Just to the kids? Or, to adults also? I did it ince in the beginning of my marriage as a surprise, 8 gifts for my husband, some of them were more for us than just him. He was unhappy I surprised him and didn’t allow him to be ready with gifts also. Which I think is very sweet. But, as a rule we don’t for Chanukah. If I had children I would do the 8 days probably. My mom reminded me she did when we were very very young kids, but a lot of the gifts were similar to what a kid might get in their stocking. I don’t even remember open a gift every night.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie Just the kids.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Don’t you think many kids get several gifts during Christmas? I doubt there is really much difference between grandparents, santa, and an aunt or uncle giving gifts. Anyway, @keobooks was talking about the pressures of gift giving. I think adults are much more difficult to give to than young children. I also think it becomes a lot of gifts when people are worried about giving to all the adults in the family. A lot of money, time, and hassle. I know it can be enjoyable to buy a gift for someone, and people can still do it more privately, but the obligation at the big Christmas dinner for everyone to see what was bought and what was given means pressure to buy for everyone at the dinner, unless there is an agreement to draw names, which I am not sure anyone is ever very happy about.

YARNLADY's avatar

@JLeslie In my family, we had three kids, plus my brother had his birthday that week, so we only got one big present from Santa. However, we did get smaller ones from grandmas, and Aunts.

JLeslie's avatar

@YARNLADY Yeah, see sometimes the eight gifts are not eight from their parents plus more from other relatives. Sometimes the eight is it. Grandma’s the first night, mom and dad the next three nights, Uncle Samuel the fifth night, etc. So, it isn’t much different. Depends on the family.

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