Dear Amy: My son had a rocky start to high school, including participating in an event that led to juvenile detention and community service.
He went above and beyond his community service, spending more than the required hours scooping poop at a horse facility that serves handicapped children.
He has turned his life around, and while still doing dumb 17-year-old stuff, it looks like he will graduate on time. He has pre-enlisted in the Marines.
I want very much to announce his graduation to his attorney, therapist, probation officers and others who were part of his rocky start.
I REALLY don’t want this to appear as a gift request, but I want to acknowledge those that made the event possible.
Can you suggest verbiage to convey that gifts are not required, but thank those professionals that made his success possible?
— My Son’s Mom
Dear Mom: Wow, don’t overthink this. You should approach this as a thank you message, conveying: “all hail and hallelujah, it looks like this young man will cross the finish line!”
Reach out to each of these people with a note (or email), acknowledging their efforts and compassion toward your son. Tell them that you are so grateful that “the system” worked for this one young man.
If you send a written note, send a copy to their supervisor. If you send an email, forward it to the supervisor.
Let them know: “You do a very tough job. I hope you will be gratified to learn that my son has completed his community service, has gone above and beyond in recognizing the impact of his actions on others, and seems to have turned his life around. He never would have gotten there without your efforts, and we are so grateful. I’m very proud to tell you that he will be graduating on time (fingers crossed) and has pre-enlisted in the Marine Corps.”
If your son would like to follow up with a printed graduation announcement with his hand-written: “I made it! Thank you!” on the card, I guarantee it will be posted in the break room.
No one will think you are trolling for gifts.
Dear Amy: I have coached a college athletic team at a very large university for over three decades.
In recent years it has become common for students to interject the phrase, “Thank you for understanding” when corresponding with me via email regarding conflicts with our practice schedule.
I have found myself getting more irritated when this phrase is used. These kids seem to assume that I DO understand their situation, which is often not the case.
I also interpret it as potentially meaning: “I’m doing this whether you like it or not, so you should accept it and excuse it.”
Am I being too sensitive about this? Were I to respond or write a coach, professor, employer, etc., when I was younger, I would have phrased it, “I hope you can understand and forgive my absence.”
Is it a generational thing where the student is being respectful, but due to my own interpretations I am taking it disrespectfully?
— I Don’t Understand
Dear I Don’t: What these students are doing is to assume and express the privilege of people who don’t believe they have to ask permission, but need only to thank you for understanding that they are following a certain course of action.
They are telling you what they are doing. They are giving you notice of their scheduling conflict, and you are to accept without question that they have other plans.
At the beginning of your season, you could try to train them to perhaps behave differently toward you. Tell them, “In case of a conflict, I expect you to contact me in advance and ask if you can be relieved or excused from training that day. Your schoolwork comes first. Things happen. I understand that conflicts arise, but if I don’t excuse you from practice, then consider yourself not excused. Got it? Thank you for understanding.”
Dear Amy: Your alarmed response to the question from “Newlywed” was truly bizarre. Her husband was being possessive. They worked together, and he wanted to continue to work with her. He didn’t want to go to work without her and didn’t want her to change jobs.
Maybe this guy just really loves his wife! Your answer suggested that he was some kind of monster!
Dear Upset: I genuinely hope I was overreacting to this. But where you saw devotion, I saw control. Control and possessiveness are not love.