Episode 33: Should You Send a Birthday Card When Your Adult Child is Estranged?

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Estrangement from an adult child is difficult, but when her birthday comes around, it becomes complicated as well. Should you send her a gift? A card? An email? Or nothing at all?

What’s the etiquette for recognizing an estranged child’s birthday?

There’s no rulebook to go by, but common sense suggests that there are two ways to handle birthdays during an estrangement. The first is to respect your child’s request for no contact. This keeps it simple, but what if it doesn’t feel quite right in your case?

You can always dial down the level of what you usually offer. In this episode, Tina describes different ways to dial down typical birthday behavior, such as sending gifts, cards, and money.

She also offers a practical suggestion for handling “big” birthdays (like 30), where it just wouldn’t feel right not to acknowledge such a milestone.

If you’re worried about your child feeling abandoned if he doesn’t hear from you on his birthday, Tina offers a perspective that just might change your mind.

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