Gifts Not Acknowledged

Q: I am always sending my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew holiday gifts and birthday gifts. I try to send something nice and I usually feel like I overextend myself with purchases but I want them to receive a nice gift that they can use. I've noticed over the past couple of years, I never seem to get a thank you note from her or her children. I'm starting to resist sending any more gifts as it seems like they just expect the gift and don't appreciate it. How do I talk to my sister about this without rocking the boat too much? -Mike, 47

Dr. Anna: If you are sending gifts that aren't being appreciated or acknowledged, it may be time to re-think your actions. Gifts can be a way to express love and interest in a relationship. But they can also create a sense of obligation or lead to an imbalance in the relationship. Overextending yourself to give gifts seems to be leading to resentment on your part. If your gifts aren't being appreciated, it's probably time to find another way to express interest in your relationships with them. Offering to spend time together, sharing a meal, or doing small acts of kindness are other ways to express commitment to a relationship that may be a better fit in this case.

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