Coping With Ingratitude

We have all experienced ingratitude one time or the other in our lives. It hurts us deeply when a person turns his back on us in our hour of need.

Ingratitude hurts deeply

 Let’s first take a look at some examples of how ungrateful our near and dear ones can be!  Of course, it’s human to get upset and feel used by the attitude of ungrateful people around us but instead of cribbing over it and indulging in self-pity, let’s find ways to cope up with ingratitude.

Examples of Ingratitude by Relatives & Friends

Ungrateful Son

An eminent judge , Mr Agarwal seated comfortably on an easy chair in his luxurious suite in a posh old-age home in the suburbs of a metropolitan city narrates his experience during his stay at his son’s place. 

 “Look, I’m a remarkably healthy for my age and absolutely non-interfering person and amused myself in the company of my grandchildren and visiting the local library but somehow I always was uncomfortable with my son’s behaviour which lacked warmth and I felt like an outsider when I was at his place.

At first,  I attributed it to the hectic lifestyle of a successful doctor couple but as days passed by, I understood that I was thoroughly unwanted at his home. It was then that I decided to shift to this place.

I am, of course, very comfortable here, though I am yet to get over my only child’s behaviour, for whom  I and my late wife sacrificed so much!” says he in a painful voice.

Ungrateful Daughter

A 50 year old schoolteacher Kamala who took 6 months loss-of-pay leave to be with her daughter at delivery time and to take care of her newborn baby recalls the bitter memories of her stay in her daughter’s place.  

 “I’m tired, bitter and have not been able to get over the feeling of being used,” says she. “I slogged at her place day and night, did cooking, cleaning and washing, spent sleepless night looking after the baby without a word of thanks.  

But mind you, it’s not the hard work which put me off. In fact, I’m used to hard work. What pains me most is my daughter’s and son-in-law’s shabby treatment. They were incredibly sting and mean.

Visiting places, there! My foot, I was virtually a prisoner in her house; the only time I went out was to buy vegetables and grocery. Certainly, my daughter has changed a lot after marriage, but how could she be so ungrateful?” , asks Kamala angrily.

Teach gratitude to your children
Learning begins at home: Inculcate values like courtesy and humility in your child as early as possible.

Ungrateful Sister

Rohini had shouldered responsibilities of her family consisting of a disabled father, mother and younger sister and sacrificed the best part of her life looking after them.

She helped her sister get a good job , married  her off to a well-off person and even took care of her during the delivery  but now painfully recalls how her ungrateful sister forgot everything and even severed all ties with her.

Holding back her tears, Rohini continues, “Well, when we say gratitude, we mean perhaps love and affection, call it whatever you like – gratitude, love or affection – it should be spontaneous and just can’t be demanded.”

Ungrateful Friend

Meera and Rehana were close friends. Meera helped Rehana during her wedding by breaking her 2 lakhs fixed deposit amount.  But was Rehana grateful for this timely help from her close friend?

Meera says, “For a while, she did. But slowly, she distanced herself from me. Of course, she did pay back my money in instalments over a period of 2 years. Then she migrated to New Zealand and I’m told she’s well-off.

But imagine, she did not even bother to take leave from me or inform me about her leaving for New Zealand. I came to know of it from her relative. How could Rehana be so very ungrateful and ruin our friendship? It hurts me, really hurts me deeply.”
friends expressing gratitude
Once a friend, always a friend: Do not forget to be in touch with your friends, especially those who stood by you in times of stress and strain.

The common yarn running through all these varied experiences is Ingratitude. It is impossible to find a single person, who has not experienced ingratitude in his lifetime. In fact, ingratitude is a sure invitee, not a surprise guest at our table.

How do we tackle ingratitude without feeling pain, anguish, resentment and disappointment?

Dealing With Ingratitude

The best way to deal with ingratitude is to expect it. A lot of heartbreaks can be avoided then. We must be realistic and learn to accept human nature.

Marcus Aurelius, one of the wisest Roman Emperors, wrote in his diary once: “I’m going to meet people today who talk too much – people who are selfish, egoistical, and ungrateful. But I won’t be surprised or disturbed, for I could not imagine a world without such people.”

How very true! We can only blame ourselves, if we grumble about ingratitude because it is our nature that makes us expect gratitude.

Remember, it is natural for people to forget to be grateful. “Jesus Christ healed 10 lepers, but out of these only 1 stopped to thank him.  When Christ turned around to his disciples and asked, ‘Where are the other 9?’ they had all run away.” (St Luke) Yes, they all disappeared without thanking.

How can we expect more thanks for our favours than was given to Jesus Christ?

Parents have been tearing their hair about the ingratitude of their children for thousands of years. Even Shakespeare’s King Lear cried out in agony, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.”

Teach Gratitude To Your Children

But, to a great extent, parents are to be blamed for their children’s ingratitude. How can they expect their children to be grateful, unless they train them to be?

Dr Samuel Johnson rightly puts it: “Gratitude is a fruit of great cultivation. You do not find it among gross people.” While ingratitude is natural like weeds, gratitude is like a rose, nurtured, cultivated, loved and protected.

It is certainly very important to make the children use the magic words “Thank you” often  and to make them write little notes of “Thank you” to appreciate every gift, however small it may be.

So next time when an aunt sends hand-knitted sweaters or pickle from home-grown mangoes, instead of criticizing her for being stingy in the presence of her children, praise her efforts, praise her for being thoughtful, loving and affectionate.

Remember, when we teach our children to express their gratitude and not to take good things for granted, we teach them to be grateful to us, too.
Treat elderly parents with affection and gratitude
Gratitude, particularly from one’s grown-up children, gladdens the parents’ heart.

 Do not expect gratitude. 

In the final analysis, it is better, wiser, more sensible and even healthier to do favours for that inner joy of helping others like Aristotle’s ideal man than to expect gratitude. “The ideal man,” said Aristotle, “takes joy in doing favours to others; but he feels ashamed to have others do favours for him. For it’s a mark of superiority to confer a kindness; but is a mark of inferiority to receive it.”

The Gita also stresses the importance of doing our duties without expecting any fruits in return.

Thy right is thy work alone, but never to the fruits of work; let rewards of action be not thy motive; nor yet be attached to inaction.

(Contributed by Sruti  S)

Related Posts That You May Like:


  1. If we do good hoping to get back, we could be disappointed. God let the rainfall upon the good as well as the bad. However, since you are not god, it is important to tread carefully when dealing with the spirit of ingratitude.

  2. Do not give people too much nor teach then too much until you know what kind of snake you are dealing with. Pay attention to people. Watch their unkind remarks; watch how they look at others and what they say about others behind their backs, pay attention to their complaining. It is the same thing they will be saying about you once your backs are turn.

  3. Dr Samitha3:04 PM

    Envy, Entitlement, and Expectation. These are three root causes of ingratitude. these three root causes of ingratitude can be conquered. With an intentional daily effort to look for and celebrate the silver lining in all situations, ingratitude can be replaced by thankfulness and a spirit of genuine appreciation for all life has to offer.


Comments posted on this blog are moderated and approved only if they are relevant, on-topic and not abusive. Avoid using links to your site/blog in the body of your comment unless it is highly relevant to the post.