Dear Annie: This is to all the parents or grandparents that have been hurt by their family because they have not been receiving calls, thank-you notes for all that they do, gifts for special occasions or a little show of care, concern or thought (and I hope this is a small population). If you’re in this population, here’s my advice. You can start by lessening your expectations. Should that not work for your happiness, then bring yourself to no expectations for those people in your life.

It is not always an easy state to get yourself to, and you could struggle with it at first. However, if your expectations stay this high, then your family will continue to disappoint you. I want to believe that these family members, at least for some, do not know the impact of their actions. But by focusing on your reaction rather than their actions, you have set yourself up to feel no pain, sadness or continued disappointment. In the end, you could become a much happier person seeing the good in others unhampered by those unmet expectations. — Lowering the Bar

Dear Lowering the Bar: Many studies have proven that lower expectations have led to a happier life. This doesn’t mean settling for poor treatment and bad behavior. Instead, consider it an act of generosity for yourself and your loved ones.

Dear Annie: My husband and I have separate checking accounts. Every Christmas, he gives his sibling and her children several hundred dollars.

This has been going on for several years, adding up to thousands of dollars.

My issue is that they never say thank you unless we hand-deliver the money.

His sibling takes the card and puts it to the side and doesn’t open it in front of us.

If he sends it in the mail, then we hear nothing. At least, I don’t, not even from his sibling. When one of his sibling’s children got engaged, I paid for and sent a gift that cost several hundred dollars. I know it was delivered, but I never heard a thank-you until the engaged couple visited family in our state.

Whatever happened to good manners? Are they not important anymore? Acknowledging a gift with a card, phone call or a simple email would be appreciated. — Irritated in Illinois

Dear Irritated: Good manners cost nothing, while the return is immense. By practicing basic good manners, we are showing those around us that we respect them and are considerate of their feelings.

We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It sounds like your husband’s sibling and family are missing out on a gem hidden in getting a gift, which is to acknowledge the person who gave the gift. That type of loving exchange has the power to make everyone feel appreciated. So, to answer your question, good manners are very important today and always.

At the same time, you will feel better if you give because you want to give and not because you expect something in return.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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