The Vanguard

Dear Debbie: Is my family materialistic?

Don’t sacrifice your health for people who
don’t appreciate it.

Don’t sacrifice your health for people who don’t appreciate it.

Shelby Guidry

Shelby Guidry

Don’t sacrifice your health for people who don’t appreciate it.

Shannon Lundgren, Editor-in-Chief

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Dear Debbie,

My family thinks I didn’t spend enough money on them at Christmas and isn’t talking to me. Well, let me back up. I’m a music major going through school on a combination of scholarships and loans. I work at a part-time job, am in a band and go to school full time. My parents refused to help me with school expenses because they think a music degree is a waste of money, even though they both make six figures.

I ate Ramen noodles for two months so I could afford gifts for my family and extended family, which includes my grandparents and many aunts, uncles and cousins. I put a lot of time and thought into these gifts. I made sure to get gifts for everyone that I thought they would appreciate and tailored them to their likes. When we exchanged gifts at my grandparent’s house this Christmas, my parents were visibly disappointed when they opened their gifts.

When we got home, my mom and dad lit into me, saying that I embarrassed them with my cheap gifts. They called me a failure and said I was worthless. After that, they wouldn’t talk to me at all. They ignored me if we were in the same room. A few days later, they went out to a movie without me and loudly talked about what a great time they had when they came home. It was a movie they knew I wanted to see, too.

After that, I left to go stay with my best friend until I could move back on campus. I texted them all “Happy New Year,” but no one responded in the group text.

I really love my family. How can I get them to talk to me again?

~Starving Artist


Dear Starving Artist,

You say you really love your family, but I have to ask: do they love you? These don’t seem like the actions of people who are supposed to care for you.

Since your family isn’t financially supporting you, where did they expect you to get the money to pay for expensive gifts? It’s not like they don’t know you’re a full-time student. They know what your circumstances are, and they are showing you that they don’t care through their actions. This seems less like it’s about the gifts and more like it’s about the fact that they don’t respect your decision to peruse your art. It also seems like another avenue for your family to use money to control you.

Regardless, by complaining about your gifts, your family has freed you from the expectation that you ever need to give them anything ever again. If you really feel you must do something for them in the future, perhaps consider a charitable donation in their name. Make sure any future donations don’t interfere with your ability to eat a healthy diet. You shouldn’t sacrifice your health for people who don’t appreciate it.

You should also consider the idea that the kind of relationship you want with your family just might not be possible, through no fault of your own. When you texted them “Happy New Year,” you put the ball in their court. All you can do is wait. While waiting, use the time to think about what you want out of a relationship with them and what sort of behavior you are willing to tolerate. It will be difficult, but worth it, to know where you stand the next time you talk to them.

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Dear Debbie: Is my family materialistic?