Social Question

jca's avatar

If the neighbor's kids broke my fence and then he repaired it, and they gave me letters of apology, should i give them a little gift to thank them for the nice letters and the repair?

Asked by jca (29307 points ) December 15th, 2009

the other day my neighbor’s kids were sleigh riding and crashed into my fence and broke several spokes. since it was a surprise that i did not notice until i left my house, i went to the neighbor’s to tell him that it appeared they knocked some of the pieces out. it seemed like he did not know they did it. he was apologetic and said he would fix it.

when i came home today, not only did he fix the fence but there was an envelope taped to my front door. both kids wrote nice letters of apology, each letter a whole page long, explaining how they were sorry and the sleigh went too fast for them to stop it, and they did not do the mature thing by trying to keep it secret (i imagine he gave them the business about being immature and trying to keep it a secret). it was very sweet of them to write these letters, even though the father probably made them do it.

i was going to leave them a note or holiday card thanking them for the fence repair and for being such nice neighbors. should i give them a box of candy or some cookies or something as an extra thanks? Or do you think a card to thank them is enough, no gift necessary?

frankly i am happy and relieved that he fixed it without an argument and there are no hard feelings. he’s kind of a tough guy and i didn’t know how he would take it when i told him they broke it. i am happy they apparently admitted that they did it and that he fixed it without an argument. i was actually half expecting them to deny it and him to take their side.

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38 Answers

gemiwing's avatar

Cookies for two kids who learned the right thing and cookies for a smart dad. Cookie for all, I say.

Breefield's avatar

Why not :) It can’t be a bad thing, can it?

Blondesjon's avatar

No gifts. It was a lesson they learned and a gift may detract from it.

they may begin breaking bigger and bigger things to try and up their reward. where does it end @jca? where does it end?

chyna's avatar

How refreshing to have a parent not say “my kid didn’t do it.” Cookies will soften up even the toughest guy and it would be a great gesture of goodwill.

dpworkin's avatar

There is a danger of getting caught in an endless feedback loop, spiraling into faster and faster exchanges of good deeds until you all turn into butter.

truecomedian's avatar

It’s up to you. But that is pretty awesome how they handled the situation. I don’t mean to be negative, but nowadays that could have gone the other way. Sounds like you got decent nieghbors.

tinyfaery's avatar

Do whatever makes you feel happy. If a card will do it, fine. If you want to add cookies, go for it.

Also, a return thank you will be very positive reinforcement for the kids. They will know that if they admit to wrong doing people will appreciate them for it.

TLRobinson's avatar

I agree with gemiwing; what an awesome parent and learning opportunity for the kids. If for no other reason than to ensure them you harbor no ill will.

janbb's avatar

@pdworkin Sounds like the discredited story of Little Black Sambo to me.

I think the card with a note in it is a good idea. Understand the impulse to give a gift but it does take away from the lesson learned, I think.

dpworkin's avatar

@janbb who are you, Uncle Remus?

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Cookies and a card?Why not?Life is too short to not to do a simple,nice thing to show appreciation—now I want to send you cookies for being such a nice person ! :)

janbb's avatar

@pdworkin Sho’ nuff.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Yes! This is definitely behavior you want to encourage! : )

JONESGH's avatar

You can’t go wrong with cookies.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I have to agree with no gifts. But certainly thank the boys for doing the right thing, and tell them that what happened is a normal part of sledding, and that when you make a mistake, the important thing is to make things right, and that you think they are fine young men. Thank the parent for doing such a good job of parenting, and that he has lovely children.

Kids need positive feedback that when you correct a mistake, people don’t get mad at you. That’s the reward for fixing the mistake. And adults are friendly to you because you’re a person who does the right thing.

If you give cookies, it should be as a gesture of goodwill towards the family, and not as a thank you for fixing the fence.

rooeytoo's avatar

The card is nice idea but I wouldn’t give some one a gift for fixing something they broke in the first place

Spirit_of_the_Nomad's avatar

I would! Good behavior should be rewarded and if you have the time and energy I think its a great idea!

Carmella's avatar

I would send a holiday card and a box of chocolates or biscuits. You’re under no obligation to do either, but I think (as others have suggested), you should show you appreciate his cooperation. People tend to remember small but significant gestures, and if his children break something else, he might be more inclined to get it fixed sooner rather than later (or not at all!).

Adagio's avatar

For me, the determining factor would be the age of the children. If they are younger, perhaps under 12, I would give a little gift, something home-made (like the cookies you suggest) just to further encourage their efforts and eventual honesty. Behaviour like that needs encouragement. I would certainly verbally thank them and acknowledge the effort, even if you decide not to give a small gift.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

i think if you left it as is… all will be well between you and them and thats nice… but if you add that little extra gift it will infuse a lessen and a great feeling that will probably be passed on to others and paid forward. it will teach them how much better it is to be nice ;) extra treats i say ;)

aprilsimnel's avatar

Now I want a cookie. ::picks up large rock::

missyb's avatar

@gemiwing cookies are always the right answer!

HighShaman's avatar

I have to Disagree with the folks saying to give the kids cookies.

WHY would you reward these kids for being little sneaks and trying to cover it up ?

The ONLY reason that they fixed it and wrote the letters of apology was their FATHER made them do it .

I think a note for getting the fence repaired is more than enough… IF you give them gifts ; it’s possible they will begin breaking more expensive things HOPING to get gifts…. and expect a reward each time they do something right…. even though they were forced to do it .

chyna's avatar

@HighShaman And it’s also possible that giving them cookies will make them like her enough that they will volunteer to shovel her walks or rake her yard (for more cookies of course.)

Shemarq's avatar

I would give them a thank you card letting them know that you appreciate them telling the truth (even if not at first), for fixing the fence, and that you accept their apologies. Its positive reinforcement to them for the good part of their actions and it will also go a long way in good neighbor relations. I’m sure their parents will appreciate it even more.

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@HighShaman .......being you ,,, and reading your profile ,,, your answer surprizes me… i must say .

jaytkay's avatar

I like PandoraBoxx ‘s answer best

HighShaman's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch Why does my answer surprise you ? I believe that if we reward kids for things that they should do already ..it makes them want payment or a reward for everything that they do even IF they are suposse to do it anyway….

@chyna IF she wants to give them the cookies ; then wait a couple of weeks .. Just ‘till Christmas .. would be ok .. just so they don’t get the idea that the cookies are a Reward for doing what they should have done in the first place .

filmfann's avatar

I gotta chime in here, but it’s not in the same key as many.
Give the kids chocolates, or cookies, or something nice! Reinforce the fact they did the right thing! This is a good father, trying to raise his kids right. Help him make his point, and you will have better neighbors than if you just sneer at them.
Besides, if they like you a little more, they might be nicer around your stuff.
It’s Christmas time! Show a little Christmas spirit!

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@HighShaman i just expected you to say something more like @filmfann just said . or what i said… thats all .. i didnt say you were wrong ,,, i said i was surprized ,,, which , i guess… means i was wrong. lol ;-)

HighShaman's avatar

@The_Anonymous_Witch Perhaps we are BOTH right in our own way of dealing with things ?

Have a great night .

The_Anonymous_Witch's avatar

@HighShaman . perhaps .... and you too . ;-)

Cupcake's avatar

I’d bake some cupcakes and bring them over.

Who doesn’t love cupcakes???

janbb's avatar

@Cupcake Now I really want cupcakes.

Cupcake's avatar

@janbb – me too!!

edit: but not enough to break and then fix my neighbor’s fence.

Rangie's avatar

I don’t think a gift would be the right message to the little ones. However, with that said, I do think a face to face conversation with them would be a good idea. I would ask them if they participated in the repair and compliment them on a job well done. Then let them know if you have a chore in the future you think they just might be the ones to take on the task. A compliment for the actual repair work, but not for doing what they should have done anyway.

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