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Etiquette

How to write Thank You for parents (1 attended, 1 did not....and yes, they are married)

I am struggling with how to write a thank you note for my parents. I had a small destination wedding (23 guests, including the wedding party) and my Dad did end up flying with my niece, and paid for the restaurant bill (he offered about a month before the wedding), which doubled as our reception. According to my Dad, my mom didn't come because it was "too far to drive". It was a 2 day drive to get to the destination and, ultimately, he ended up flying up with my niece. I'm pretty sure she just didn't want to attend, as she has since talked about taking a trip to another city that would be a 3 day drive to get there. If I assume that she has undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, then I can assume she has no empathy and doesn't care who's feelings are hurt by her actions. During the entire time from engagement leading up to the wedding and even afterwards, the only thing she ever asked me about my wedding was where I got my invitations made and when will the pictures be ready so I can mail them to my family in Germany. There was no "I wish I could have made it," or "How was it?" or "The wedding looked beautiful," etc. I'm over it now, but at the time, it was very hard talking about my wedding plans to others (nonrelatives) who were more excited about the wedding plans than my parents, who barely acknowledged that I was getting married at all. (Just fyi...I've never been married before, so it's not like I'm getting married a 2nd time and they are attending a 2nd marriage.) Up until about 3 months before the wedding, I wasn't even sure my Dad would walk me down the aisle because I was getting no signs from him that he was planning to come.

Anyways, my thank you note has both parents' names pre-addressed on the envelope, but in my heart, I feel like I just want to thank my Dad for coming, for paying for the restaurant bill, and for the additional check he wrote afterward (because he wanted to help a little more with the wedding bill.) I've thought about beginning with "Dear Mom and Dad," and writing a generic line like "Thank for your support throughout the years," so that my Mom is acknowledged, but then also adding, "Dad, thank you for making the trip out to the Tetons to attend....." Do you think this would be acceptable? If not, what would you suggest? I would appreciate any opinions on the matter.  This has been the hardest thank you note for me, but I need to get it out.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Re: How to write Thank You for parents (1 attended, 1 did not....and yes, they are married)

  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I am struggling with how to write a thank you note for my parents. I had a small destination wedding (23 guests, including the wedding party) and my Dad did end up flying with my niece, and paid for the restaurant bill (he offered about a month before the wedding), which doubled as our reception. According to my Dad, my mom didn't come because it was "too far to drive". It was a 2 day drive to get to the destination and, ultimately, he ended up flying up with my niece. I'm pretty sure she just didn't want to attend, as she has since talked about taking a trip to another city that would be a 3 day drive to get there. If I assume that she has undiagnosed narcissistic personality disorder, then I can assume she has no empathy and doesn't care who's feelings are hurt by her actions. During the entire time from engagement leading up to the wedding and even afterwards, the only thing she ever asked me about my wedding was where I got my invitations made and when will the pictures be ready so I can mail them to my family in Germany. There was no "I wish I could have made it," or "How was it?" or "The wedding looked beautiful," etc. I'm over it now, but at the time, it was very hard talking about my wedding plans to others (nonrelatives) who were more excited about the wedding plans than my parents, who barely acknowledged that I was getting married at all. (Just fyi...I've never been married before, so it's not like I'm getting married a 2nd time and they are attending a 2nd marriage.) Up until about 3 months before the wedding, I wasn't even sure my Dad would walk me down the aisle because I was getting no signs from him that he was planning to come.

    Anyways, my thank you note has both parents' names pre-addressed on the envelope, but in my heart, I feel like I just want to thank my Dad for coming, for paying for the restaurant bill, and for the additional check he wrote afterward (because he wanted to help a little more with the wedding bill.) I've thought about beginning with "Dear Mom and Dad," and writing a generic line like "Thank for your support throughout the years," so that my Mom is acknowledged, but then also adding, "Dad, thank you for making the trip out to the Tetons to attend....." Do you think this would be acceptable? If not, what would you suggest? I would appreciate any opinions on the matter.  This has been the hardest thank you note for me, but I need to get it out.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
    Have your parents always been distant with you and events in your life?  Was your destination wedding a surprise?  Did it create any particular stress or hardship for your family, financially or otherwise, to travel? 
    As a parent I cannot imagine not attending the wedding of my children.  I am sorry that this happened.  However, it seems to me there must be much more to this story than "an inconvenient/long road trip".

  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    This really isn't an etiquette question. This is a family dynamics question. Like PP mentioned, it sounds like there's a lot more going on here, and we really don't know how it would play out to write a note just to dad or call him out specifically.

    I will say that I wouldn't let a pre-printed envelope make the decision for me. If you think that a note just to your dad is the right thing to do, go get another damned envelope and address it to him. 
  • This really isn't an etiquette question. This is a family dynamics question.
    My apologies if my post isn't in the right forum. When I originally posted, I was only thinking about how to go about writing the thank you note to my parents, which I genuinely did feel was an etiquette question.



    To answer some of the other questions (no really related to my thank you note question, but to provide background):
    Have your parents always been distant with you and events in your life?  
    My parents always came to my band concerts etc. in high school. and even in recent years, come to watch when we do obedience trials. However, my Mom is more there to do other things...she's not genuinely interested in whatever the event is they're there to see. She is the narcissistic one. 

    Was your destination wedding a surprise? 
    Hardly. My husband asked my Dad for my hand in marriage before we left for our Glacier National Park trip in July 2018, so he knew. Since our wedding was at the Chapel in Grand Teton National Park, we had to begin planning a year in advance because of reservations, so the wedding was a whole year after the engagement. So, they knew for a whole year.

    Did it create any particular stress or hardship for your family, financially or otherwise, to travel? 
    Because I'm in my 40s and established in life and because my parents are retired, I never asked my parents to help pay for anything. We planned a small enough wedding that we could pay for it ourselves (and do it debt free...we didn't want post wedding bills). Any help from either of our parents would be their decision and would considered a blessing. My parents have retirement savings and a paid for house, so there is no hardship that I am aware of. My Dad actually paid for my niece's plane ticket (she is in college, but wanted to come) when they went to the wedding. Theoretically, he and my Mom could have flown up there as well. My Mom has had 2 knee replacements, so I can see sitting in a car for hours potentially being an issue. However, she swims daily, walks at the park daily, etc. and rides in a car 2 hours one way each week to go to her doctor appointments. (Going back to the distant parents question...her doctor's appointment is in my area, but they never stop by or call to ask to visit when they're in town.)

    As a parent I cannot imagine not attending the wedding of my children.  I am sorry that this happened.  However, it seems to me there must be much more to this story than "an inconvenient/long road trip".
    Yes, I don't believe the "inconvenient/long road trip either". I could give examples throughout my childhood as to why I feel my Mom has Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but that is definitely not an "Etiquette" topic. But if I assume that my Mom has NPD, then I can assume she lacks empathy and if it doesn't involve something she wants to do, then she doesn't want to do it. My husband and I invited my parents to go to the Grand Canyon to take the mule trip to Phantom Ranch (or even enjoy the rim from the top in one of the lodges.) We were planning to pay for their lodging, etc. She didn't go on that trip either. (She just didn't want to do go.) So, my Dad, husband, and I ended up riding the mules down and she stayed in Texas. It was one of the best trips ever because there was no Mom drama.

    I feel terrible for saying this, but I feel like my parents should be divorced. I think their relationship is unhealthy/it's a distorted "love". (My Mom actually forced--almost bullying--my Dad to say that they might be getting a divorce in front of me once. He was very emotional in saying that and she was very unemotional. At that time, I actually wished they would have, because then my Dad could do the things he wanted to and he and I could actually begin to share experiences together.) However, they are in their 70s and have been married for over 40 years, so if my Mom has NPD and my Dad is a codependent, he's too brainwashed and isolated to leave at this point. It makes me very sad.

    When you're a kid, you have no other perspective as to what is "normal" family dynamics because you have nothing to compare it to. It wasn't until I was in my late 20s/early 30s that I began to realize that my family's behavior is NOT normal.

  • So for the thank you note (and to get back to my original post topic), how about:

    Dear Mom and Dad,

    Thank you for all your help with the wedding.** Dad, it meant a lot to me to have you walk me down the aisle and take part in our special day. I'm glad you and Natalie were able to see a bit of Grand Teton National Park as well. It's too beautiful to not visit!


    **The first sentence is referring to my parents paying for the restaurant bill and for writing us an additional check. (Our restaurant bill ended up being less than what I was anticipating...my Dad told me he wanted to contribute a little more, so he wrote me another check.) I addressed the note to both parents, since technically, the money could have come from both.

    If you have any suggestions or edits you would make (or if it sounds fine the way it is), please let me know. I know my note isn't as personal sounding as most of the sample "Thank you to parents" notes are, but that's because I'm not that close too them (for the reasons listed in my previous reply.)
    MobKaz
  • I think what you have sounds fine. I also think if you want to just thank you Dad that’s fine too (unless the money was a joint gift. If that’s the case then I’d say what you have is good). 
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    This really isn't an etiquette question. This is a family dynamics question.
    My apologies if my post isn't in the right forum. When I originally posted, I was only thinking about how to go about writing the thank you note to my parents, which I genuinely did feel was an etiquette question.



    I don't say that to say you're in the wrong place. I'm pointing out (as you know) that this is really about your relationship with your mom, not about being polite. The only applicable etiquette is that you need to thank anyone who gives you a gift, which is covered either way. 

    I think you know what you want to do with your note, so what you've written is fine. Narcissistic parents are no fun. I don't envy you dealing with that. I would try not to stress too much. It sounds like your dad is going to appreciate it and your mom is going to find fault no matter what you do. Don't take her response to heart. 
  • Your note is good, from an etiquette standpoint. You have my sympathy regarding your narcissistic mother. My MIL is also a narcissist. People who don't have a family member with the disorder may have a hard time grasping just how bizarre the walking on eggshells dance can get. I hope you are or have been in counseling to set healthy boundaries with her. It has taken my husband years to deal with his mom!
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