Ungratefulness: what to do when your kids don’t appreciate your sacrifices

Kids often exhibit ungratefulness. One of the downsides of sports parenting is that often your kids don’t appreciate the sacrifices you make so they can enjoy their sport. It can become very taxingon a parent’s patience.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared how she dealt with her “ungrateful” child and I thought her experience just might encourage some of you sacrificing moms and dads. Carrie wrote:

Because my boys have such long days with sports and they have to catch the bus at 6:45 a.m., I drive them to the bus stop (about 1/2 mile away) to save them the extra time.

For the past week or so, wrestling workouts had been “evil,” I was told. My 15-year-old was tired and sore and grumpy. As the week wore on, he became increasingly surly and would drag his feet every morning as he got ready for school and would dally to the car after practices.

One night I waited nearly a half hour while he showered and did who-knows-what. Clearly he did not understand that getting rides from mom are a favor, not a right, and that somehow my time was not valuable.

Friday morning, he was really late. His brother was ready and we were already two minutes past leaving time, so we got in the car and started pulling out without my 15-year-old. He came running out of the house and threw his hands up in the air–not like “goal” but like “what the h*ll?”

Not okay. Totally disrespectful. 

“Didn’t you see me?” he practically yelled as he hopped in and slammed the door.

That night when he texted me after practice, “we’re done,” I texted back: “Great. As you walk home, please think about the favor I do for you every day by driving and consider ways to show your gratitude.”

Our house is about 5.5 miles from school. Even better, he had to lug home all his gear that night, in addition to his backpack, for a competition the next day.

“I’m really sorry about this morning. I was grumpy,” came the text reply.

I texted back: “I understand. You will still need to walk.”

Ten minutes later: “Can I please have a ride?”

“I’ll consider it,” I wrote. I had planned to pick him up at the halfway point but I never had to because half way home, an upperclassmen, my son’s school hero, pulled over and offered him a ride home. He still believes I would have made him walk all the way home. Perfect!

When he got home, I received a tearful apology, a hug and an evening pal. I think he discovered that the walk home is not impossible but definitely not fun and definitely not something he wants to do every night. I do believe he learned his lesson.

Don’t you just love it when those hard parenting stand-offs turn out well?


I love it! Carrie was right on with her love-and-logic, tough-love approach. And the 15-year-old? Well, I hope he’s appreciating his mom’s taxi service a little more these days!
Check out Carrie’s blog at Bizziwriter.com.

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  1. says

    What an excellent story. It reminds me of all the driving my parents did, taking me and my 3 brothers to baseball. I think I’ll send my parents a “thank you” note, because lord knows I was just like that boy in the story (ungrateful).

  2. says

    Great article. It makes me feel so much better to know I am not the only mother with the occassionally ungrateful child.
    Then they go and do something great, like when my son wrote about how great it made him feel to see me in the stands watching him play tennis, and you realize maybe they do notice the sacrifice you made. They give you that little morsel, the hug, the thank-you, that keeps you right where they want you.
    Thanks for the article, really enjoyed it.
    Look what sandra recently posted: Attack! (The Short Ball)My Profile

    • Janis says

      Sandra, I know what you mean about the “little morsel”! But I really believe that little morsel grows bigger and bigger as they get older. My 21-year-old son and 24-year-old daughter are giving me tons of “big morsels” now!

  3. says

    Our children aren’t ungrateful, they see us as the certainty in their lives and they come to expect certain things. We sacrifice for our children but generally fail to point out these sacrifices for them.

    In order to avoid episodes such as these, I explain to my daughter very carefully that I make sacrifices for her because I am supporting her endeavors and that we both must cooperate in her tennis career. She gets it, and she has a less a sense of entitlement than a sense of responsibility to herself and her tennis game.

    • Janis says

      Some will call it “seeing parents as a certainty,” others will call it ungratefulness, still others will say kids take parents for granted…it all adds up to the fact that many times kids do not fully appreciate the sacrifices that parents make for them. I know I didn’t as a kid. I know there were many times my kids didn’t.

      You’ve handled it well with your daughter and her tennis career. I’m sure it makes life a bit smoother for the both of you.

  4. says

    I can understand that a young child may see it as a “certainty,” but a highschooler should be mature enough to realize that the world does not revolve around them.

    Either way, I think the approach Robert took was a good one; have a straightforward and honest talk about it.

    • Janis says

      The older they get, Daniel, it seems they do start to get more grateful. My kids are much more grateful now than they were when they were younger. They are now 18, 21, 24.

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