Parent Hopping Mad Over Thank-You Notes

I got this email yesterday from a Highland Park High School parent who wished to remain anonymous, so much so that I’m not even sure whether it’s from a mom or dad:

Are manners and handwriting outmoded? My child just graduated HPHS, and we’ve gone through the fun of giving and receiving graduation gifts. However, I’m shocked at the thank you notes – and lack thereof. As I’m writing, it’s June 12, and there are 9 gifts we delivered mid-late April which have yet to be acknowledged…7-1/2 weeks later! Further, the handwriting on the notes we have received makes me wonder where the school instruction has gone on this subject. Chicken scratch printing from 18- and 19-year-olds was heartbreaking. Clearly, they have written this way for 12 years in HP schools without any more being demanded of them.

Sound off, parents. Does this match up with your thank-you-note experience?

By Dan Koller Jun. 13, 2013 | 6:45 am | 19 Comments | Comments RSS
19 comments to "Parent Hopping Mad Over Thank-You Notes"
  1. Observer @ June 13, 2013 at 7:39 am
    Yes, the handwriting times have changed. Cursive is not in the Common Core State Standards for English. Computers mean kids write less and get less practice. Some kids, especially boys, don’t naturally have the fine motor skills for nice handwriting, and keyboards and video controllers don’t develop them either. High school teachers are looking for content; they just need legibility, and most of the papers are Word documents, printed or emailed.

    I wouldn’t assume the chicken scratch means the notes are insincere or rushed. I bet you would have heard from the others promptly if they could have communicated electronically, their usual mode. At least you had fun giving the gifts.

  2. nfw @ June 13, 2013 at 9:09 am
    Slow down, HP mom. Most of the kids are still pooped out from the massive partying that took place in May. Yes, promptness of thank you notes is best, but a late thank you note is better than none. I always appreciate the note, so griping about the ones you did receive is a bit overly critical, don’t you think?Emiy Post used to say you had 60 days for the note. Turn your burner down to a simmer will you? Aren’t there much bigger fish to fry here?

  3. A. B. @ June 13, 2013 at 9:11 am
    Yes, handwriting is awful. I can’t read my middle-schooler’s handwriting. He transferred into the district in 5th grade. Through a series of moves he never got a full year of learning cursive and I knew his handwriting was severely lacking. When I asked the higher-ups at MIS if that would be an issue I was told no, they don’t really worry about that anymore.

  4. Susan S @ June 13, 2013 at 9:27 am
    Well said, Observer. Handwriting quality was never pushed on my kids in the HPISD schools. The class time was given to other areas of study that were beneficial.

    The end of the school year was very stressful for my senior, so I didn’t push the thank you notes. School has been out for two weeks and the first batch of ten or 12 went out earlier this week.

    I do not expect thank you notes anymore, maybe I should, but I don’t. (However, I do expect my own children to send thank yous.) And I don’t put time limits on receiving a thank you card. The joy is in the giving for me. When I receive a note, it just makes the fun of giving last a little longer.

  5. dorothy @ June 13, 2013 at 10:28 am
    Teach your children – don’t cash the check or use the gift until the thank you not is in the mail.

  6. XT @ June 13, 2013 at 10:28 am
    I agree that manners are important, and thank you notes show that children (and adults) appreciate the gift and understand etiquette.

    Being able to write in cursive, on the other hand, is really not that important. While writing legibly is important, cursive is frankly something that is a remnant of a bygone era.

  7. Avid Reader @ June 13, 2013 at 10:37 am
    @A.B., Cursive was taught in 3rd grade in the HPISD when I was going through the system so wouldn’t expect them to be teaching that in 5th grade on.

  8. Scooter @ June 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm
    There is one case where handwriting does come in handy. On a job application. My nephew could not figure out why he wasn’t getting summer job offers until I saw one of the applications he was going to submit. Me being named “Best Penmanship in the Napa School District” in the ’70′s, I was horrified to see that scratch. I filled out the next two applications for him and he got offers from both places. All it takes is Practice, Practice, Practice.

  9. Edward @ June 14, 2013 at 2:50 pm
    @ Observer – I never knew that boys didn’t have the “fine motor skills for nice handwriting”!

    I guess that balances out the fact that girls can’t do math or science.

  10. XT @ June 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm
    Scooter,

    I agree that handwriting is important. Did you write in cursive on the application?

    Congratulations on your award! I myself recieved the coveted best candleabra in wood shop award.

  11. A Boss @ June 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm
    The first thing I look at on a young person’s application for work is the handwriting. It is a good determinant of how much the person cares about the job they applying for. Same for applications made with a Word program, I look for neatness, spelling and grammar. You’d be surprised how many auto correction mistakes are made and the person just doesn’t care enough to proof it himself.

  12. Z @ June 14, 2013 at 4:55 pm
    Boys don’t naturally have the fine motor skills for nice handwriting? What an insultingly sexist, empirically indefensible, and completely wrongheaded thing to say. Rationalize much?

  13. L @ June 18, 2013 at 9:20 am
    For this parent to be sitting at home upset that she/he hasn’t received a thank you note from a teenager is ridiculous. And, to be even more upset about their handwriting, is even more ridiculous. Someone needs to go get a job to have more to worry about! Technically, one has up to a year to write a thank you note for it to be considered in the etiquette parameters. Go read Emily Post.
    And, it is true that most boys have more handwriting difficulties than girls. Most boys really don’t care what their handwriting looks like. Girls are much more perfectionists when it comes to what their handwriting looks like and in this day and time, girls probably don’t care either.
    The STATE doesn’t look at what each student’s handwriting looks like, they look at how many correct circles were penciled in on their state wide tests administered. (STAR)
    With the age of computers, texting, video gaming etc…handwriting will unfortunately go out the window. Email has and will take over in the future. I hope you have received all your beautifully handwritten thank you notes by now! Please don’t send one to my child, I’m scared you will judge too harshly as to when the thank you note arrives and what the handwriting looks like because I can guarantee my son’s writing looks like chicken scratch!

  14. Parkie @ June 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm
    L, you nailed it. Handwriting doesn’t matter to most people under 30. My 16-year-old told me she can’t read cursive anymore and asked for help reading a letter from her grandmother. My older son has awful penmanship, mostly because of brain wiring, but also because the schools don’t emphasize it. Most papers in college are submitted online. Careers in the sciences–computer, medicine, etc. don’t require handwriting anymore. Everything is electronic.

  15. wondering @ June 19, 2013 at 11:32 am
    @ Edward and Z – from WebMD re: fine motor skills, and math and science:
    As a whole, girls outperform boys in the use of language and fine motor skills until puberty. Boys also fall prey to learning disabilities more frequently than girls. Clinics see a preponderance of boys with dyslexia. ADHD also strikes more boys than girls. The symptoms displayed by girls and boys with ADHD differ, too. Girls with ADHD usually exhibit inattention, while affected boys are prone to lack of impulse control. But not all differences favor girls.

    Boys generally demonstrate superiority over female peers in areas of the brain involved in math and geometry. These areas of the brain mature about four years earlier in boys than in girls, according to a recent study that measured brain development in more than 500 children. Researchers concluded that when it comes to math, the brain of a 12-year-old girl resembles that of an 8-year-old boy. Conversely, the same researchers found that areas of the brain involved in language and fine motor skills (such as handwriting) mature about six years earlier in girls than in boys.

  16. Coco mom @ June 24, 2013 at 11:21 pm
    Goodness … half the time I don’t even remember who I’ve sent gifts to and am often surprised when I get a note because ai’ve moved on to the next thing. I don’t know why but I am picky about all my kid’s handwriting! My son’s cursive is better than my oldest daughter’s. My other daughter is ADHD and dyslexic and she has incredible handwriting and is complimented on it all the time. This is definitely not the norm. I must admit though … in our mid-20′s, my husband and I bought a $300 wedding gift for his boss’s daughter. It was a big stretch for us but my husband really admired his boss and wanted to get the daughter something nice. We never got a thank you note and I often wondered if she got the gift. Now, I see her at our kids school and occasionally think/wonder about it!

  17. M @ June 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm
    y’all are missing the point–somehow this digressed into a discussion about handwriting. the issue is thank-you notes. the effort to write a thank-you note is far less than the effort and thought that likely went into the gift. it’s common courtesy–write the note or continue to foster the entitlement mentality.

  18. Avid Reader @ June 25, 2013 at 3:44 pm
    @M, While I agree that the issue should be the thank-you notes in general, the entire blog post is about both that and handwriting. See first line of parent’s email:

    “Are manners and handwriting outmoded?”

  19. M @ June 26, 2013 at 9:54 am
    Apparently thank-you notes aren’t part of the outsourced manners cirriculum otherwise known as cotillion. Sarcasm intended.

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