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Should an adult child celebrate birthday with his parent?

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Should an adult child celebrate birthday with his parent?


Should an adult child celebrate birthday with his parent?

Good afternoon! The other day I had a big fight with my dad because of my birthday and I really need some advice. A month and a half ago, my boyfriend began to plan my 25th birthday, which falls on a Saturday. The bf asked me not to plan anything on this day, because he wants to make it special. We live in the US, my parents are in Russia but my dad has a greencard so he comes here pretty frequently. 10 days ago, my dad calls me and says that he is on his way to a travel agency to buy tickets with miles to fly to the US for my birthday in 2 weeks. I replied that it’s great, we’ll be at home, the only thing is that my boyfriend planned a surprise on my birthday, so we will celebrate together with dad the next day if he does not mind. Dad said no problem, he’ll go somewhere, and the next day we will go to my grandmother to celebrate. Yesterday I called my dad to confirm and  say that on the day of my birthday something will happen at our house ( I dont know what exactly because my bf organized something) from 3 to 10pm and so  I asked my dad to plan something for this period of time, for example, go to my aunt's or grandmother's. Additionally I said that I will take a day off at work while he is here to spend more time together since smth is being planned for my day. Dad said sure, OK. Then he recalls that my bday falls on a Saturday, he starts yelling at me with f words and asking why he should go somewhere and then hangs up. I tried calling him back - he did not respond. Then he called me to say that the tickets cannot be returned because they were bought with miles and that I should reserve a hotel for him.  I answer no and ask him if we can talk calmly. He yells no. My bf is in shock, I’m in tears, so my bf has to reveal to me the whole surprise plan and explain that friends were supposed to come to our house at 3pm to stick posters, balloons, etc. while I and my boyfriend are having dinner at a restaurant, then we would return home around 9pm where friends and all of us have fun together. My dad does not speak English, the bf and friends are all foreigners, so my bf decided that my dad would not be comfortable at home with young people, strangers who don't speak Russian (and I can understand that). I called my dad again, told him the whole plan, said that we can go have dinner the 3 of us and then continue to party together with friends if he wants to.  He yelled at me again, I started to cry badly and couldn’t say anything else in reply and so I dropped the call. After all of this, I wrote a long message to my dad apologizing if I offended him somehow, that it was not my intention at all.. (although he offended me) . He ignored my message even though he read it. I don’t understand why my dad yells at me in such a situation, because it is my birthday. I suggested celebrating the holiday the next day and I said I will take a day off from work so we can spend a whole extra day together... Why does he have the right to spoil my surprise? Please write your opinion on the situation, I really want to understand: maybe I am really wrong?

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Re: Should an adult child celebrate birthday with his parent?

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Hi @Kamilla111 and welcome to ReachOut. We really appreciate you reaching out to us. It sounds like this was a really difficult situation for you, trying to juggle existing plans with your dad's expectations as well. 


I just wanted to let you know that ReachOut parents offer support for parents of young people aged 12-18, so you may find some of the posts here are not as relevant for your situation.


I would really encourage you to have a look at some of the articles on our youth site that may be able to offer you some more support about navigating this difficult situation, and give you some ideas for next steps Heart


I am also sending you an email now so keep an eye on your inbox Smiley Happy


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Parent/Carer Community Champion

Re: Should an adult child celebrate birthday with his parent?

Hi @Kamilla111 


Sounds like you are dealing with an irate parent who expects you to re-order your life to meet there wants.

Funnily enough I was having a discussion this very weekend (and into this week) with my partner about dealing with her mother who does exactly the same thing!.


There are a number of things that I spoke to my partner about and I think they are worth sharing with others.

First, sometimes as people get older things can get confusing (like with my 93 old step mum) but I presume at 25 your are not dealing with this.

Second, Loving and helping someone doesn't give them the right to behave badly.  You are worthy of respect and can still help and love someone while demanding they treat you with respect.


As I read the details of your story it appears to me you had a plan agreed with your father that he didn't quite understand.  He figured you were busy for work which he accepted as a #1 priority but then found out it was not the case and he expected to be #1 priority.



You sound like you have done all to be reasonable right up to the bit where you "I wrote a long message to my dad apologizing if I offended him somehow, that it was not my intention".  


I understand the desire to try an make peace but I would suggest apologizing for acting reasonably and changing your plans are exactly the wrong things to do.  You can be loving and respectful whilst demanding to be treated with respect.


I have been coaching my partner (not sure how much she is listening) when her mother starts screaming, to say in a calm tone

"Mae, I love you and want to help you but I will not be yelled at.

Once you have calmed down we can talk about it

Love you... "

Then hang up the phone and turn it off for half an hour.


Your offered him to attend the party, you offered special time exclusive with him.

That is more than reasonable.  Even if you were being unreasonable (which you weren't) that doesn't give your farther the right to behave like you describe.


You should not tolerate people abusing you. Being a parent is no excuse to abuse children.

I do realize there are cultural issues in play here, but that is still no excuse.


You have right to be treated with respect and a right to demand it