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ASK MERRILY/Birthday Dilemma

Merrily Preston
By Merrily Preston
Posted on Jul 30,2009
Filed Under Personal Development , Opinions,

Photo Illustration by Noah Falls
Photo Illustration by Noah Falls

Dear Merrily
My son’s birthday is coming soon.  I want to know if he would rather go out to a restaurant, or if he would like for me to cook the dinner and take it to his home.  I don’t want him and his wife to have to do the cooking and the clean up.  He usually cooks dinner for our family celebrations, and I would like for him to not have to do this on his own birthday.  But, we actually enjoy the food more at home and going to a restaurant can be expensive.

My son has recently become estranged from his daughter.  Should I invite her?  As this situation is recent, I don’t know if she would come, or if this occasion would be a much needed ice breaker.  Maybe she would be more inclined to join us at a restaurant than at home.  I hate to bring the subject up and rub salt in the wound.
What should I do?

Dear Birthday,

What to do - so many unknowns.  You clearly want to do what your son would enjoy most, and to be respectful of his situation with his daughter.  

The only way to find out how he wants to celebrate his birthday is to ask him.  Then take his answer at face value and go with that.

Inviting his daughter is his decision.  Address this head on by asking if he wants you to invite her.  Ignoring the issue is rubbing salt in the wound.

It is unlikely that the divisive issue can be resolved with a simple ice breaker, as they are estranged for a reason.  In a matter of the heart they are not hearing each other.  As much as you would like to engineer a resolution for them, you cannot.  

An estrangement in a family affects each member of the family in a different way.  Be clear about how you are affected.  What are your losses and challenges?  What will you do to take care of your relationship with your granddaughter and your relationship with your son?

Let me know how you care for yourself and adapt to your new situation.

Merrily Preston is an Intentional Life Facilitator, who lives in Woodbridge. Her column is exclusive to Local Kicks. Email questions to, or use online form at

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