Insult To In-Laws
I write in response to Doni Joszef’s article “Adding Insult to In-Laws” (September 12). In describing in-law issues that can put stress on a young couple, he includes gifts with “strings attached.” I certainly agree that parents or in-laws who give time or money with the expectation that they will be held in higher esteem than the other set of parents are wrong and this creates a problematic situation for the young couple.
Mr. Joszef goes on to include within “conditional” giving the expectation by the donor parents for some gratitude on the part of the recipients. He admits that as a spoiled, entitled millennial (his words) it’s difficult for him to give a sincere thanks to his parents or in-laws. He goes on to state, “It’s hard to be appreciative when that very sense of appreciation is a conditional part of the deal.” Many of us in our 50s, 60s, and even 70s are working harder and more hours at a time when we thought we’d be slowing down. However, in addition to ensuring a financially secure retirement, we wish to help our children who are dealing with the myriad expenses of our Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. One would like to think that by the time young couples reach their 30s (or sooner) they have viewed firsthand the difficulty of making a living and would have new appreciation for their parents’ hard work and sacrifices. Apparently, to Mr. Joszef, parents helping out is a given and should be done with minimal acknowledgment by the children.
I’m fortunate to know many young couples who are contemporaries of Mr. Joszef’s who don’t hesitate to manifest genuine appreciation for the help they receive from their parents. I thus don’t feel that the only thing to be done is spend car rides back from family functions complaining about the older generation as advised in the conclusion of the article. This would have been a perfect opportunity to encourage some hakaras ha’tov for parents and in-laws instead of validating entitled attitudes. Perhaps this article is meant to be satirical or tongue-in-cheek, but the humor was totally lost on me.
Doni Joszef Responds
Firstly, thank you for your comments. Feedback is always appreciated, even (especially!) if it comes in the form of critique.
Secondly, I would like to agree with your assertion that parents and in-laws deserve genuine respect and appreciation for their support.
Thirdly, I would like to inquire where and how I gave the impression that my sarcastic depiction of spoiled entitlement is something to be endorsed or encouraged. The adjectives I used in describing this attitude include the following: ingrate, pathetic, disingenuous, helplessly entitled, and ungracious. Hardly flattering. As you seemed to intuit, my writing style can sometimes carry a tongue-in-cheek tone, so if the sarcasm wasn’t as obvious as intended, I apologize for the misunderstanding.
While your interpretation of my message may have been mistaken, your premise is certainly a valid and relevant one. People my age need to grow up. We need to be more gracious and appreciative of the good we’re so freely given. We need to be less resentful and more respectful. I could have delivered the message directly, but I chose to sugarcoat it in sarcasm and self-deprecating humor because people tend to digest criticism best when they see it displayed for them rather than directed at them. At least that’s what I’ve come to believe.