Q: What should I do to make my boyfriend thoughtful and generous to my family? I would like him to bring some heartwarming gifts to my family members when he visits, or bring something to them from a trip or when they give a party. He doesn't bother to do thoughtful acts to build rapport with my parents and other family members. He seems not to care about them, which in a way hurt me because I see it as disrespect even if I know that he doesn't mean it. -- Lacy, 38
Dr. Susan: If the two of you are not from different cultures, you're certainly from different family backgrounds. You want to remake this fellow into your perfect image of the "respectful boyfriend." Yet it's clear to me that his ideas about family are not the same as yours. This might be a good time for the two of you to have a frank discussion of expectations. I'm sure he means no disrespect to you or your family, but he wants to build rapport with you, not your family. I understand that for you, the two are the same thing. You need to let him know how important it is for you that he occasionally bring a gift along to your family gatherings. It will probably be up to you to clue him in to when such gifts would be most appropriate. If you get married, it will become your task to oversee gift-giving anyway.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.