Advice on What to Write in My Estranged Stepdaughters Birthday & Graduation Card

Updated on June 15, 2012
S.L. asks from San Diego, CA
18 answers

We haven't seen my step daughter in over 4 years. It is a horrible situation. My husband and I are struggling in what to write in her birthday and high school graduation card. We are hoping that her mother's influence will lose effect soon and that she will contact us.

My husband faithfully pays child support & tries to contact her frequently but there is no response from my step-daughter or her mother. Her mother is the custodial parent and has cut off contact with my husband after the birth of our child together.

If anyone has advice on what to write please let me know. We are hoping one day soon that she will contact us or respond to my husbands attempts to communicate with her.

Note: *My husband will write the card as if it is just from him. Even though I care for my step-daughter dearly.

Thank you for any ideas that you may have.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for all the amazing ideas. We literally cried when we read the responses. I feel for anyone else out there who is in or has had a similar situation.

As for the cards they are sent and my step daughter has to sign for them upon delivery. We are praying that one day soon she will contact us.

On a positive note we were able to find out from a friend that she will be attending college very close to our home. Right now she lives almost 2 hours from us.

Thank you all so very much!

Featured Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

"I'm proud of the young woman you've become.
It seems like just yesterday I carried you in my arms.
I'll always carry you in my heart.
Remember that character is what you do when no one is looking.
Reach for the stars!
I love you very, very much.

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6 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

The birthday card should just be a very nice thoughtful one with a nice gift card in it from someplace a young adult would love. That way if mom gets it instead she won't have any use for it.

As for graduation situation I think that writing a note in it would be nice. Telling her that she has grown up to be a wonderful young woman and other stuff like that.

Telling her that she can call him any time she wants would also be appropriate too. I think telling her if she needs anything she can call him. That does not say I will do it, it says call me and we can talk. Leave it ambiguous and not defined.

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2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Redding on

All he can really say is that he's proud of her and misses her.
Make sure he puts his contact info in the card, the ball will be in her court.
Assuming she is graduating from HS and is now an adult, he probably should just say what he truly wants to say. She might be ripe for it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

not sure if your doing this or not. But I would at the post office make it so the daughter has to sign for it. not the mother but the daughter in person. how do you know for sure she is even seeing anything you send? just a thought. my husband had an ex like this.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

"Congratulations on your graduation, and happy birthday! We are so proud of you. We hope to see you soon. Love, Dad"

Keep it short and sweet. I wouldn't mention family drama in the card at all.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Beyond saying Happy Birthday and Congratulations on your Graduation... I would say that you both love her always.
And wish her the best, always.
And you are both proud of her.
And you are both always there for her, in heart and mind.

To me, there is no need to go into past references or past issues or past feelings in the card.
Just keep things, present, and nice and heartfelt.
No hidden agendas and no innuendos.
Just straightforward nice wishes.

And the card should be from both you and your Husband.
You BOTH sign the card.
Men can forget to say "we" and say "I" instead in writing the card.
So just tell your Husband nicely.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

"Even though things aren't good between us right now, it's my dream that some day they will be better. At such an important time in your life, I really wanted you to know how much you matter to me and that I think of you all the time. I love you and I always will. My door is always open. "

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Birthday card - Have a Very Happy Birthday (insert name). I (or we) love you and miss you!

Graduation card - Congratulations, I (or we) am so very proud! Good luck on your new journey into adulthood!

I mean you haven't heard from her in four years - her entire time in high school. What else can you really say since you unfortunately don't 'know' her?

Sorry I know these are bland examples, but unless you want to lavish her with words of emotion and care, there really isn't much else to say.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Write what you would if you weren't estranged. Talk about how this is the beginning of her life and how you wish her the best and hope to see her very soon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

Just be honest. You love her, are proud of her, and hope to see/hear from her soon.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Make it short and sweet. " You've graduated and become a year older, and I'm so proud of you. I know you'll work hard for the bright future that's ahead of you. We both wish you the happiest of birthdays. Love, Dad." Be sure to put a return address inside the card (not just the envelope).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Congratulations! You did it and I'm so very proud of you! Even though we haven't seen one another in several years, I think of you every day and miss you very much. You are always in my heart and thoughts. My dearest hope is that someday we can be reunited, because a parent never loses their love for their child. Please let me know if you need *anything.* I'll always be here for you.

All my love,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

how did she have the choice not to see dad from 13-17?
I think he should write whatever he feels.
How he's proud of her, misses her, thinks of her

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

As a Family Success Coach, I hear about this type of behaviour all the time. Perhaps mom is keeping her from dad or she truly does not want to see dad. There are a million stories one can make up about it. But why, why not stick to the truth. The truth is, dad is proud of her, loves her and would love to see her. She is almost an adult.

My suggestion? "Honey, I am so proud of you. I miss you dearly. Your gift is here when you are ready". Love Dad.


answers from Hartford on

I would make sure that he states how much he loves her, misses her, and is proud of her. I would avoid ANY comment on her mother and the divorce situation and how he's been kept from her. She'll likely see it as an excuse right now.

I do sincerely doubt that the daughter had any choice at all in the lack of responses to your husband. Any attempts at contact were likely blocked by her mother. I would be curious to know, however, if the woman was violating any court orders for visitation and custody by refusing contact. I don't understand why the simple fact of you and your husband having your own baby would mean that she would suddenly cut off all contact between their child. Something sounds shady in the story here.



answers from San Francisco on

I agree to keep it simple, but you and your husband and children/child ARE a family. I don't know why your husband does not see or hear from his daughter, but I sincerely hope he keeps trying.

All the best.



answers from Reno on

Instead of covering everything he would like to say, I would keep it simple. "I've always loved you and been proud of you. I'm looking forward to the things you'll accomplish next. Congratulations! Call me at xxx-xxxx so we can plan lunch together soon."

It may take years, but if he doesn't either give up or overwhelm her, they should be able to establish an adult relationship.

Hang in there!



answers from Los Angeles on

Honestly is the very best policy...I wish you the best in your years to come. I may not be present for all of your firsts but I sincerely hope that in time I can see many more to come...My love is with you even when I may not....My heart is full of pride for you and the beautiful woman you are becoming and I certainly miss your happy smile every day...

Warm, honest thoughts are what should be in a card of celebration...definitely upbeat and no guilt or negativity..(not saying at all that you would, just mentioning)...

Life is hard for children of divorce, then add a new woman in the life and then another child. My children live with me but I know that they think "the baby" our child together with my current husband is spoiled....well, guess what, so are they..haha! They just don't see many children, (and adults) their view point is personal and perception can be fuzzy to say the least..if her mother is not supportive and positive to the changing and growing circumstance of the other household I can see where the daughter would just sink deeper into feeling less than in your household. Once again, I am not saying this is what is going on, I am merely saying it is a possibility.

I wish you the best of luck. I am uncertain as to whether you maybe should send her a greeting as well but for some reason I feel like it might be a nice gesture to show your love and support as well.

Next question: Grandmother Sending Nothing for Daughters Birthday