Adult Daughter - New York,NY

Updated on October 18, 2012
C.S. asks from New York, NY
27 answers

My adult daughter will not return my phone calls. For the past two years I have not recieved birthday cards or Mother's Day cards. She did call me this year and wished me a happy birthday. The following week she called to say she had received a brithday card from us for her oldest boy. I mentioned that I was hurt that she did not send me a birthday card. Her reply was I am not going to make her feel guilty.This upset her, she went on and on and hung up on me. My husbands says I should not have said anything since she had given us a party for our 50th months ago. As I said I have tried calling, left messages, sent a note and she has not returned them. Since we are going on a months vacation, my husband also called, no return phone call. I would like to make amends before our trip. Seeking answers. Cindy

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answers from Omaha on

Take it from a girl that refuses for any reason to talk to her mother.

You did something. I know most parents do not want to admit that they are wrong but for her not to talk to you anymore there is something huge. Do you try to but her on guilt trips a lot.

I will tell you it will take a world of karma for me to ever forgive my mother. But at the same time that woman has hit me, belittled me, tried to screw the father of my child, so on an so forth. I think you are better standings then my mother.

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answers from Dallas on

Why are you so hung up on a piece of cardboard?

You DO realize that cards cost like four bucks, and they are pieces of cardboard with words on them?

Why on earth does that mean so much to you?

You said she threw you a party, she called you and wished you happy birthday... but you're "hurt" because she didn't send you... A CARD??

I personally hate getting cards. They are pointless. I can't do anything with them. I'd rather you give me four bucks. A phone call or sweet text message goes much farther.

I think you're being outright ridiculous, if I'm being honest. You need to take your husband's advice, and apologize.

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answers from Hartford on

She's not answering your calls and messages right now because she's hurt and needs some time. Per your own words, she called you for your birthday and to let you know her son received his card from you... as well as the fact that she threw you a party for your anniversary. Those are all loving gestures from a good daughter but when you complain to her, "You haven't sent me birthday or Mother's Day cards in two years!" she's not feeling appreciated. You're focusing on what she hasn't done, small tokens that mean very little, rather than focusing on what she HAS done.

Does that make sense to you? What you should have said to your daughter was, "Thank you for the birthday call. I appreciate it. It's so nice to talk to you."

If I were your daughter, I would appreciate a note from you.

"Dear Daughter,
I understand you're hurt by my criticism about the birthday and Mother's Day cards. I didn't realize how ungrateful it would sound when you've done so much for me and your dad. I enjoy it when you call on birthdays, and I loved the anniversary party that you threw for us. It makes me feel great when you and your sweet boy call to let me know that you received the cards I sent him. I probably don't tell you enough how much I appreciate you and how proud I am of you. Sometimes I say things that come out more critically than I intend them to, and I'm sorry that the things I say hurt you. I know that you need time to cool off, but I hope that we can talk soon. I'll probably say something Mom-ish, and I hope you always forgive me.

Love always,

11 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My mom was an its all about me mom. That was precisely the reason I avoided talking to her. Who wants to hear ad nauseam about how little you do for your mom, how disappointed your mom is, how you should do this or that after alllll she did for you?

Trust me, not many.

Leave your daughter alone, perhaps when you get back she will miss you enough to take your call.

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answers from Philadelphia on

I have NEVER sent my mom birthday cards or Mother's Day cards. EVER. We do talk over Skype a lot and I see her at least twice a year (my parents live overseas). What she doesn't do is make me feel guilty. And why should I feel guilty? Will she think I love her any less just because I didn't waste money on a card? Does she think I don't think about her because I didn't tell her "I'm thinking of you" in a card? I love my mother with all my heart. She knows this. We don't need cards to maintain our relationship.

It really sounds like you and your daughter talk on the phone, you're somewhat active in her kids' lives, she throws parties for you, what more do you want? You made her feel guilty over a *card*? Are there other things you try to make her feel guilty about? From her rant to you, it sounds like things have been building up for a while and she finally had enough. Give her some space. Send her postcards from your vacation (without adding any guilt trips) and try calling her when you get back. And *really* try to have a relationship with her that doesn't involve trying to make her feel bad for not trying hard enough to make YOU happy. She has her own life and her own family to raise. It's not her job to make you happy.

I'd be curious to see what HER post would be (the other side of this story) if she was on Mamapedia...

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on


You were trying to guilt her about the card and she did the right thing to end the conversation. I will bet you anything that if you ask your friends and other family members to be completely honest with you, that you will learn that you do that often when people do not do as you expect/demand from them. You probably have been doing it for so long you don't even realize it.

My grandmother pulled that same stunt - upset b/c no bday card - yet I was seeing her nearly every week (and 1 hour drive each way) while still dealing with 3 kids, a husband, 2 pets, a household and everything else. I finally had enough and told her that I was tired of it and not going to take it anymore. She told everyone how rude/disrepectful/etc.. that I was until one of her life long friends told her she was DEAD WRONG!!! She called me a few times and I refused to return any calls/notes/emails until I WAS READY. I was not going to do what she wanted and it did upset her but I am a Grown Married Woman and I will deal with things when and as I see necessary. By the time I did call her back - she began to realize that I am not a child who will do as she wants, instead I am an Adult who will do as I WANT.

You sound very picky, needy, ungrateful, selfish and rude.

Basically, you need to look at yourself and think about your actions and reactions. You also need to realize that your daughter will contact you when she is ready - it is her choice of how and when she contacts you - it is NOT your choice.

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answers from Washington DC on

Wait...she gave you a party for your 50th just a few months before your birthday....

And she called to wish you happy birthday, so she DID remember you were having a birthday....

And she called again, to let you know that her son had received the card you sent him (a call she didn't have to make).....

So your response to all the above was to bring up the fact she did not send you a birthday card.

When you read the order of events like that, does it get through to you that she has been the one doing things to stay in touch with you, but you guilted her for not doing ENOUGH? Someone throws you a party -- probably a pretty decent-sized one if it was for a 50th anniversary -- and your focus is on your desire for a piece of cardboard in an envelope? She did not forget your birthday, and she promptly acknowledged the card you sent her own son.

Please dig into the real and bigger issues between you. She may be angry becuase you seem ungrateful for the party and the contacts she has made.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Your daughter gave you a big clue about why she's not returning your calls. "I'm not going to make her feel guilty." Making her feel guilty may not be your intent but apparently you are. Take a good look at the way you talk to her. However, it does sound like you are trying to make her feel guilty. She called you on your birthday. She called to acknowledge the card you sent. Both positive actions but yet you guilted her about her not sending you a card.

I suggest that instead of looking at what she's doing that you think is wrong that you look at what she's doing that is right. Focus on the positive aspects of your relationship. Let the rest go.

You cannot change her into a card sending daughter. You can change your expectations so that you're happy with a phone call instead.

I urge you to get into counseling so that you can learn how to make yourself happy without the need for specific gestures from your daughter. You're hurt and are looking for ways to prove that she doesn't love you. She's also hurt because she feels that you don't accept her. And......I'm sure there is much more going on in the background.

Once you're happy on your own, you'll have no need to point out to her what she's doing that you don't approve of and she'll eventually be more able to be a part of your life.

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answers from Austin on

Write her a note apologizing for your criticism about the card. Let her know you loved the phone call, but just miss her.

Remember she gave you a 50th anniversary party.... That is huge....she loves you, but you seem to have expectations rather than understanding.

As moms we adore our children. We know they are busy in their own lives and are trying their best. Any comment you make to her about what she is not doing for you, is just more pressure. I am sure you did not intend this.

Your daughter is now a mom and her priority is her husband and and child.
Accept this and be thrilled for her. Do not add to her stress, instead take it away, by acknowledging, being a mom with a young child and busy family is hard.. And you are proud of her. Instead offer to help her... Put your own needs on your spouse, not you adult child.

If none of our advice sounds good to you or does not make sense. Consider counseling.. They will help you work through this and find your own type of peace.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on


Well, I rarely send cards... I look at the cost, and the fact that most of the time they end up in the trash... money is VERY tight for us right now.

I used to call my M. a lot, but don't call as much anymore.... it is harder for her to understand much on the phone now, and I don't want to disturb her if she is sleeping. (She is 88 now...)

I don't know if this makes a difference, but I am 54.....

My kids don't send cards, either....... they call, but not often. I do talk to 3 of them on the internet frequently, though.... (one of the 4 still lives with us, so I see him when our paths cross... he works almost full time AND goes to school, so he isn't home much.)

Rather than focus on what she ISN'T doing, focus on the positive things.... she did give you and your husband a party for your 50th... that is a big accomplishment!

Frankly, as far as the issue of the birthday card vs the phone call, I think the fact that she DID call you on your birthday was her way of greeting you... and you chose to be petty about the point a week later that she didn't SEND you a card...... so, yes, she is hurt by it... she reached out to you, and you rejected her gesture.... she probably feels that if she does call you, that you are going to go on and on about why she doesn't call......

As you said, she is an adult... she has a life now, also. It is sometimes hard for us to understand that they have things they need to do outside of our life.

I will admit, though... you sound rather demanding... and that may be why she chooses not to talk to you? That is one issue with my SIL and his mother.... she gets very demanding that they spend time with her, and so as a result, they don't WANT to spend time with them.

I would suggest sending her a card, apologizing for your comments, and tell her that you will be gone for a month, so she knows where you are.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Is she a mom too? Cause you should know that if she has smaller children she's busy. Sometimes we daughters just get caught up in our own kids lives that we "space" those things off. Making her feel guilty is just as bad as her forgetting.

My mom and MIL do this to mom withholds cards from me on my birthday if I miss her birthday...well you know what "I DON'T CARE!"...she thinks it hurts me. But to be honest, I don't worry about it.

let it go, go have fun on your vacation and call her when you get back.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

sometimes you have to be the the bigger person and apologize for your actiions. have you told her that you are sorry for saying something about not getting a card from her. not all people do cards....i personally think they are a waste of money. i would rather do a phone call. in your note above you sound very petty and very slefish....

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

I don't think anyone here can give you the answers to this problem, Cindy. Something is wrong with your relationship. You need to figure out what happened. Either it was you or it was her or a combination of both.

If you really want to know what's wrong, you have to be willing to accept some hard opinions from those around you who are OBJECTIVE regarding you two. Are there any around you who fit the bill?

I do want to add that some people just don't send cards. They use other ways (to the chagrin of the card industry) to say happy birthday, like the phone, or email or facebook. She may feel that all you can think of is the card issue. But that is most certainly the tip of the iceberg as in what's wrong with your relationship...

So sorry.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

perhaps, after a lifetime of angst with you, she has realized she no longer has to bear the guilt she feels you bring down upon her. That is what I am reading in your post.

She called & wished you a Happy Birthday. Seriously & honestly, I consider that soooo much better than a card! & yet you felt you had the right to place guilt on her for not sending a card. Shame on you. This is the daughter who gave you an anniv party! Whether that gift from the heart was thru societal obligations or truly from the something only the two of you can say.

since none of us know your situation, which will read very different/sometimes quite opposite that of your daughter's.....we really can't offer any ideas on how to breach the dam between you.

only you can address this. Only you know the backstory. Only you know what has brought your daughter to this event. & the fact that she has given to you in the past is a hopeful sign.

I say go on your trip. Enjoy yourself. Allow some time to pass before attempting to gather the family together for the holidays. & during this season of autumn, really use this time to look within yourself & consider your life with your daughter....from her perspective.

I'd like to welcome you to Mamapedia. This is a tough call for the 1st question. Wishing you Peace.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would think a phone call for your birthday was way better than a card. People attach too much significance to cards. It's somebody else's poetry on an expensive piece of paper. I hate cards and wish people wouldn't waste their money on them.

I think there are probably two sides to this story... and we aren't hearing your daughter's. It sounds like she is fed up with both of you. I agree with your husband and I think you should send a note apologizing for your behavior. Tell her life's too short and you're not getting any younger and you want to have a good relationship with her while you can and you will do anything to make that happen. And then let it go. You can't bully her into being how you want her to be.

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answers from Columbus on

You are not commenting on why she's angry. Without that, no one can really help. Even with that, it will only be your side. I assume you know why she's angry. What do YOU think you should do. Sounds like there's some apologizing to do.

ETA: I just reread this -- she didn't send a card but she did call? And you're upset? So you called her and complained that she didn't send a card? Yeah, I'd be mad, too. Cards are expensive and impersonal. I thought you wrote she did NOT call, but she did. She didn't ignore you -- you just are wedded to the idea that cards are important. Personally, I think cards are a racket and a money pit. I'd have been angry, too.

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answers from New York on

Two things are obvious to me from what you wrote.

1. Your daughter is very hurt and
2. You don't hear her.

When you write, "Her reply was I am not going to make her feel guilty.This upset her, she went on and on and hung up on me." It shows me that you tuned her out when she was trying to express how she was feeling and what she was thinking.

It can be very painful when someone has hurt you or you have perceived someone has hurt you and you try to explain your position and they belittle how you feel or can't even hear you, especially when that person is your mother.

How you fix it is by calling her and leaving her a message about how truly sorry you are for whatever it was that you did. Let her know that you are willing to listen to what she has to say and you will not intrude into her life and when she is ready to talk she can reach out to you. All of these words have to come from the heart and be prepared to truly listen to what she says even if you don't agree with her feelings or position. Empathize with how she may be feeling. Also be willing to look at yourself. Sometimes it is very difficult to accept the naked truth about ourselves especially when we aren't as lovely or kind or tender or gentle as we think we are.

Lastly card are your thing just like they are my husbands thing. I get him cards because they are his thing. He gives me cards because that is his thing. Accept that your daughter's expression of love for you is to hear your voice rather than send you a card. Don't reject her expression of love because it is not yours.

Lastly she just needs time and some space. Let her have it. Only reach out to her consistently once a month letting her know you love her and just wanted to know how she and her family are doing. No added agendas or manipulations. In time when she perceives you are being authentic she may come around.

I hope this helps.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Your husband is right. LISTEN to him!

At this point, you need to apologize. And stop "attaching strings" to things like gifts or cards for your grandkids.

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answers from Dallas on

Well, I'm assuming that something happened 2 years ago that has caused some distance. So the problem isn't the card, it's whatever the deeper issue is. She is your ADULT daughter. Stop criticizing and expecting her to make you feel happy. Deal with whatever it is that's going on under this. It's not all her.

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answers from Houston on

There's a lot going on here, and you've got to separate the issues to get some answers. Instead of using the rare occasion that you do hear from her to complain about how hurt you are about not hearing from her, ask her how she's doing...what's going on with her. Don't be defensive or offensive. Step outside yourself and ask because you care. She might tell you. Then, you can address how it makes you feel.

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answers from Washington DC on

Okay. I have a good relationship with my parents most of the time. I don't always get them cards or gifts for their birthday's. Sometimes money is tight. That should have no bearing on what they choose to do for my kids. I think as the adult parent, you need to apologize for trying to make her feel bad for not sending you a card, and suck it up. I gave up trying to make MY birthday's important as soon as I was pregnant with number 1. It's great to celebrate, but I certainly wouldn't make my kids feel bad for not giving me a card. I think you should apologize.

I think she also is acting like a child in not returning your calls. If my mom and I argue, it lasts maybe a day. Maybe a little longer if she's crossed lines with my kids. I'm thinking this has been her learned way from childhood to deal with confrontation (yes, I'm channeling Dr. Phil) I'd talk to her and tell her when she's upset to talk to me instead of ignoring me.

Good luck and have fun on vacation! I'd love to go on vacation for a month!

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answers from San Francisco on

Your husband is probably right about the 50th.

I think you need to focus on daily communication, rather than birthdays or mother's days. I mean, ultimately, do those days really matter more than any other day? I must say, she did call you on your birthday -- isn't that better than a card?

It seems strange that she is ignoring your calls just because of a comment from you about being hurt -- is that really all there is to the situation? Is there a history of your guilt-tripping her?

I don't know how you will resolve this before your trip, since as of now she has not returned your calls and notes. I suggest you try to let it go for now, let things settle down with time, and go and enjoy your trip. A month! Lucky!!

The nice thing about girls is that they are usually more communicative. So maybe at some point you can ask her what you did to offend her, and be open to the response.

Good luck with it, and enjoy your trip. Good answer from Kristin.

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answers from Norfolk on

Well it sounds like she's mad at something.
I have no idea what it might be.
It might be there are things that you and she will never see eye to eye on.
You have to reach a state of detente - agree to disagree - ease the tensions - and stop trying so hard.
Don't expect responses.
Do not worry about patching up anything or making amends before your trip.
Just send her maybe one airy post card saying you are having a good time and you hope she and her family are well.

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answers from Indianapolis on

There has to be a deeper issue here. From reading this I think you make her feel guilty if she doesn't do what you want. Maybe you should suggest talking things out. See what is bothering her and listen to her. If you need to apologize for the past than do so. It is sad that she is not returning your phone calls but there seems to be an underlying issue here. As the Mom take the responsibilty to get to the bottom of it and to listen to what she has to say. Good luck to you both.

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answers from Boca Raton on

I'm very sorry you're going through this pain with your adult daughter!

There's not much background info in your question so it's hard to give a specific idea of how to help. I think if I were you I'd back off and give her some space. Before my trip I'd probably send her a nice card to let her know that we'll be gone for a month, but to leave a message if she needs you for any reason (I'd check for messages periodically). I'd let her know I love her and then let it go.

Sometimes it just has to be enough that your child is grown, married and happy with a child of her own. It would be great to have close, extended family relationships but it doesn't always work out that way.

I'd also focus on my husband and my own life, being the best person I can be and still contributing to the good of the world. If you're spiritual at all I'd do more with my faith community.

Good luck. <<hugs>>

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answers from Charleston on

There are some people who are card/letter senders, and others who are callers. She falls into the latter category. Don't try to make her into something she's not. I personally can't justify the costs of cards these days, and would much rather have a conversation over the phone wishing a happy birthday, anniversary, etc than sending some overpriced piece of paper that will be thrown into the trash...

My only suggestion is that since she is not returning your calls, write her a note explaining that you don't understand why she is not calling you or your husband back. Ask what have you done? She sounds angry and you need to find out why. If you are demanding that she sends cards on every occasion, please stop. If she calls, that should be enough because she made the effort to contact you.

I do think that it is immature of her not to tell you and your husband what is going on. Life is too short to be mad.

Good luck!

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answers from New York on

Don't know what either one of you did to cause a bitter quarrel, but it has to be more than just b'day cards so I'm not taking sides. Don't know what your personallities are like either. All I can say is that the best thing for you to do to try to make amends and go on with life is to visit her with your hubby. (There needs to be a moderator incase things blow up again.) Both of you need to set asside your difference and accept each other as you are, with unconditional love. Don't try to tell each other how to live and understand that people get busy. There are lots of times I've forgotten b'days, because I was just so busy. It's amazing how having responsibility for a child and hubby can keep you so busy, there's "no time to sneeze." Many times people forget and that's human. It's not being malicious or passive's human nature, so just accept it. "You can't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes."

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