difficult child's birthday


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After much discussion, husband and I decided not to text a Happy Birthday message to difficult child who recently turned 33. It did not feel quite right, but neither did contacting him since his last communications to us were hateful/mean/blaming.

About 10:30 the night of his birthday, I received an email from difficult child's (ex)girlfriend. (We don't know if she is ex or not). The email read:

Today is your son's birthday.

I have not responded, although I have considered something along the lines of:

February was difficult child's grandfather's, brother's and father's birthdays. March was his grandmother's.


difficult child has made it crystal clear he wants nothing to do with us. We will honor his wishes until his heart changes. We love him very much.


say all of the above


stay silent - no response

What looks best from your objective eyes?

We would love communication with him, and surely he knows we would respond to a kind email.
Our suspicion: This may be totally about trying to get some birthday cash. And, he doesn't intend to play nice to get it, haha. (not funny kind of haha)



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Maybe something along the lines of all of the above? "Yes, it is. Since difficult child's grandparents, brother and father did not hear from him on their birthdays, we assumed difficult child is no longer celebrating birthdays. Tell him we hope he had a happy one."


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Hmmm. That is an interesting question. I think....it was good for me to stop interacting with the CRAZIES MY SON CHOOSES TO HANG OUT WITH (yes you felt a little rise in tension as I typed that). I just don't respond to them or acknowledge that they exist. As a blanket rule, it is helpful. Delete, delete, delete. If the text had come from your son I might have a different reaction.


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Yes, I think as usual Echo nailed it. I did not take into account this came from girlfriend, not difficult child. I believe I have changed my mind and would ignore her text.


Echo nailed it.

That said - and I am not judging here - I would text my son a Happy Birthday. I know you have other valid reasons - but his failure to send birthday greetings would not be a factor. I try to raise above the bad behavior instead of meeting it at ground level.

Again, not a judgment. If you have gone "no contact" for other reasons, I would continue with the no contact.


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Echo is right! She isn't anything to you. If she had any respect for you she would not be sending you guilt emails to make you feel bad. Sounds very manipulative to me.

difficult child made it clear he doesnt want to be part of your life and therefore you are respecting his wishes.


one day at a time
No response is what I would do.

Even if you think you might want to write difficult child now, I would sit on that thought for at least 48 hours before you act.

Time is a wonderful thing.

Sent from my iPhone using ConductDisorders


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Haha, SS. Before I read it, I was thinking, "He doesn't care if you send him birthday wishes or not. He wants birthday MONEY." Such is the way of our difficult children. You did the right thing and I agree that this woman is absoloutely nothing to you and I wouldn't even engage her. Son probably put her up to it hoping you'd send him some $$$ if you felt guilty. They don't stop trying!

Send him a happy birthday text. He is too old to be expecting big presents, even if he were a easy child.


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Staff member
I would not reply to a text from the girlfriend who has already let you know her judgements of you. If I remember correctly, she is the one with the loving family who doesn't believe in detachment and let you know how awful she thought your treatment of difficult child was, correct? Her obvious rescuing of him is indicative of how our difficult child's find others to help them bemoan their fate............and then turn around and make it your fault.

Your son treated you horribly, he said nasty, cruel things to you and husband. While I agree to a certain degree with not lowering oneself to the level of our difficult child's, I do believe one needs to have a certain amount of self respect which, at least for me, would mean I would not send a happy birthday note to an ingrate who treated me as badly as your son treated you. You've made it abundantly clear that you love him. You've done enough.


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During one of Son #1's less pleasant phases, he told my Hubby (his father) to forget he ever had a son, then got insulted when Hubby didn't acknowledge his birthday. Since the text came from the girlfriend, I wouldn't bother to respond. You've gone no contact for a reason. Let difficult child make the first move.


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Apparently, i was chomping at the bit. Wishing now that I waited longer and not responded, but I don't feel badly about what I said. Next time, I will sit on my lips! if a response comes from difficult child's (ex?)girlfriend, i will NOT reply.

Albatross, I borrowed from you before you changed your advice---maybe because it was seriously close to what husband thought we should say. We were going to be away for the day and I took the plunge.

I wrote:

Yes it was.

Since his grandfather, grandmother, brother and father did not hear from gfg33 on their birthdays, we assumed he was not celebrating birthdays.

We love him and hope he had a happy one. He has made it crystal clear he does not want any communication with husband and me. We are honoring the wishes of an adult.

...going quiet again because husband and I totally agree that the next move should come from difficult child. Your responses were so full of wisdom. I would have been to wise to wait for more before i emailed back. But, again, husband and I are fine with this. We apparently "needed" to say something. That said, yep, difficult child's ex doesn't warrant any more communication from us....

Still learning. You folks are amazing.

and, yes, we are pretty certain he wanted the $$, as in 99% certain


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I like your response and am glad you got to say what you needed to say.

If your difficult child is like my difficult child he was going thru girlfriend to hint at $$ and also to get a little bonus pity from the girlfriend.


one day at a time
SS---there is no wrong or right. Whatever you did, you felt like you needed to do. I used to be terrified I would "make a mistake" and all would be lost with difficult child.

I see it a bit more broadly now and give myself more leeway.

We just do the best we can, and that is what you did. Hugs to you.


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Staff member
SS you and husband are fine with your response and that's the most important thing. I like what you wrote. We all do our very best .........always.

Sent using ConductDisorders mobile app


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Thanks, folks. The support and affirmation we receive here goes a long way in rebuilding a doubtful heart and mind.

Hope today is a beautiful day for each of you!

Scent of Cedar *

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February was difficult child's grandfather's, brother's and father's birthdays. March
was his grandmother's.

difficult child has made it crystal clear he wants nothing to do with us. We will
honor his wishes until his heart changes. We love him very much.

I am coming in a day late and a dollar short. I believe posting back exactly as you did was the right thing. Actually, the first example, in which your response was a little sharper, was the best one.

To me, any legitimate opportunity to interact with our troubled kids should be taken and used to its utmost. Keeping our intentions for that child uppermost in our minds and hearts, we should, in my way of looking at things:

1) Teach them our newly evolved positions on parenting. We aren't trying to be cruel to the kids, or to punish them. We do want the kids to change. We do want them to do better. We do want them to know we love them, but we want to present them with a different vision of what that means.

We want the kids to develop real respect for themselves, and for us.

In a perfect world, that is what we want.

If there are other things that you would want to happen for your child, then I say, add that to the picture of what you are working for here with every. single. interaction. you have with your child.

It is never wrong to love someone. It is never wrong to tell them we do love them, that we do see value and potential and strength in them. What we need to do is to learn how to see the difference between loving them and enabling them.

Enabling has not helped my kids. I wish I had learned about detachment sooner. But I had to get it that enabling was harming the kids before I could even look at the concept of detachment.

I want to step far enough away from my child to make room for him to grow into himself.

Whatever that looks like to him or her.

I want them to grow up, to mature, to take charge of their own lives. I would like it if they respected me. That is not mandatory. If the day ever comes when I hear respect for me in the voices of my children, I will know they are healed and are whole, again.

I think you responded correctly.

It is interesting to note the guilt your son's ex threw all over you. Interesting to note the dynamic, I mean. How much more welcome would it have been for you to have received an honest, open, truthful communication from her? Whatever it said, I mean.

She was so pointlessly hurtful and disrespectful.

I would have added something like that to my response.

Something about how hurtful it is, about how sad it made you, to read something so blatantly manipulative from someone you loved.

I might add that part, now.

It is a strange thing how, when we start telling the truth, others have to follow suit.

You did really well, Stress.

It isn't easy.

It is such an important thing, and it is never easy to know how to respond.

We love them too much.