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View Full Version : I really need an outside opinion on this...



James81
05-05-2008, 05:59 PM
Ok, I'm curious about this, so I'll pitch it to you guys. Perhaps there are a few children of divorced families out there who can weigh in on their opinion on this so I can get a better idea of just WHAT the right thing will be.

When my ex-wife and I separated, we decided that we were going to have the kids' birthday parties together, no matter what we thought of each other. Our reasoning was that our kids would probably really like having one day a year where their entire family is in tact.

We've managed to do so, with which there has been a LITTLE tension at the parties, but nothing too great. Until now...recently there has been some drama between my mom and my ex and now my mom and the rest of my family is saying they want to have separate parties and that they can't handle being in the same room with her anymore. Now, I don't want to ruin my daughter's party (which is in about 2 weeks) with a bunch of tension between the families, but on the other hand, I realize that if this happens once, they'll all have to be like this.

Personally, I WANT to be able to have their parties together as just one party. But on the flip side, I also think that they might not mind having separate parties and might even think it's cool to get two birthday parties in a year.

I'm kind of torn on whether or not it's really WORTH it to try to have the parties together or not. So, if there are any people out there who come from a home where your parents divorced, could you weigh in with your opinion on this? I want to do the right thing for my kids, and right now I am confused as to what that is.

If I have the party as one big party, I'm pretty sure that some of my family won't come. Is it worth that to have the party together? In MY mind I WANT to have the party together. That's what *I* want for the kids because I truly believe the kids appreciate (or will appreciate) that someday. Having the party together is what *I* truly want for my kids and what I think the kids would want, but IF it happens, there will be family members who won't show up (probably both sides of the family).

What do you think?

CaroGirl
05-05-2008, 06:08 PM
Kids are more intuitive than they let on, and than we give them credit for. If you have a big party and there's tension, they're going to know it. They might even begin to dread the parties because they know they'll have to put on a smile while their family grits its collective teeth and bears it, for their sake. Even if you think you're all being so mature and managing well and the kids have never said anything, believe me, they know what's going on.

I think you should have two separate parties for them. Two parties free from tension and full of joy, with the focus on the birthday child and nowhere else. I'm not sure why you think you need to have the one party. You say you want to "for their sake" but I still don't quite get why.

Siddow
05-05-2008, 06:15 PM
How about telling the grown-ups to act like freaking grown-ups for two hours a year? Gah, that sucks for your kids.

Jersey Chick
05-05-2008, 06:19 PM
I think I'd have to agree on the two parties if the adults can't behave like adults. Even if they give no outward indication of it, kids will pick up on the tension and might start thinking along the lines of, "If it wasn't for it being MY birthday.." You know, take the blame because everyone's suffering each other's company for their sake - if that makes any sense.

steveg144
05-05-2008, 06:22 PM
My first wife and I tried that method with kid birthdays after we split. It lasted one (1) year. It did not go well. Kids are not fools, and they have incredibly keen noses for the stench of hypocrisy. My ex and I agreed that in the future they would have a birthday with Mom and then a day or two later a birthday with Dad. The kids were more comfortable with it, plus they got to have cake and ice cream twice in one week. :tongue

Williebee
05-05-2008, 06:29 PM
Speaking as a child of divorced parents, who had some grandparents who thought they knew what was better....


This is a conversation for a more limited group.

You. Your Ex. and, after that, Your kids.

If the two of you want to have a birthday party, or maybe just an "occasion" (Dinner, lunch, whatever), then do it.

Your kids will care more about what their parents think, than what the rest of the family does.

Of course, there are a dozen different ways this could roll out, but it should come, first, from a shared agreement between you and your ex.

I was lucky. Even though my parents divorced when I was about 2, I always knew they loved me, and they both wanted what was best for me. Neither one of them tried to step on the other's interests, or put us kids "in the middle" of their relationship. A couple of the grandparents, on the other hand....

And, of course, as your kids get older, say the demon teenage years, they may or may not want to have this close family gathering. But it is more likely to be because they would rather be with their friends anyway.

In the meantime, have a party with each parent, or have a party with just the parents and the kids, and then separate events for the larger family.

Good Luck.

KTC
05-05-2008, 06:32 PM
How about telling the grown-ups to act like freaking grown-ups for two hours a year? Gah, that sucks for your kids.

This is what I was going to say too. Sure... the kids would love to have two parties. But if you and your wife want them together (which I think is a fantastic idea to show yourselves as a parenting team), you should tell your parents to buck up and come to the plate. There is no reason they couldn't treat your ex-wife with respect for two hours for your childrens' sake.

James81
05-05-2008, 06:33 PM
Speaking as a child of divorced parents, who had some grandparents who thought they knew what was better....


This is a conversation for a more limited group.

You. Your Ex. and, after that, Your kids.

If the two of you want to have a birthday party, or maybe just an "occasion" (Dinner, lunch, whatever), then do it.

Your kids will care more about what their parents think, than what the rest of the family does.

Of course, there are a dozen different ways this could roll out, but it should come, first, from a shared agreement between you and your ex.

I was lucky. Even though my parents divorced when I was about 2, I always knew they loved me, and they both wanted what was best for me. Neither one of them tried to step on the other's interests, or put us kids "in the middle" of their relationship. A couple of the grandparents, on the other hand....

And, of course, as your kids get older, say the demon teenage years, they may or may not want to have this close family gathering. But it is more likely to be because they would rather be with their friends anyway.

In the meantime, have a party with each parent, or have a party with just the parents and the kids, and then separate events for the larger family.

Good Luck.

Thank you (and the others so far) for this post. But this post has been the most helpful so far because it has given me an idea for a comprimise (which I don't know if the ex will be willing to go for it, but I could bring it up).

Perhaps we'll go for the two separate parties, but maybe on their birthdays we (the four of us) could have a birthday dinner together.

kristie911
05-05-2008, 06:43 PM
I think that's a fantastic idea James. The kids will love two parties, I'm sure. And yet they get to see you and your ex getting along at a birthday dinner. I think it would make them feel very special. It's wonderful you guys can still get along like that.

My husband and I did one party together when we first separated but then he was mad he couldn't bring his girlfriend (the reason he left me) and that was the end of the "together" parties. My son (who will be 4 in July) loves the fact that he gets to have two parties now. He thinks he's pretty cool. :) And everyone is more comfortable.

James81
05-05-2008, 06:47 PM
It's wonderful you guys can still get along like that.


We don't really get along that well. lol

But sometimes we do. And sometimes we can set our differences aside for a couple of hours to do things with the kids (like a while back we all went to the circus together).

But yeah, we got along just long enough to do that kind of thing once in a great while, and then the rest of the time we are emotionally slugging each other in the face. lol

I see another issue coming up on the horizon now, slowly but surely. And that is the issue of my wife's boyfriend becoming a stronger presence in their lives. I'm starting to hear stupid shit out of her mouth like "Jason thinks this" or "Jason thinks that" and I can't help but think "Uh, I really don't give a fuck what Jason thinks" lol.

kristie911
05-05-2008, 06:51 PM
It's really hard. I get along with the ex's girlfriend because it's best for everyone but I really don't like her all that much. But she treats my son well and that's what really counts in the end, I suppose.

I won't spend time with her though...that would just be too much for me. So while we all get along, we don't do things together ever. It works for us. :)

WittyandorIronic
05-05-2008, 07:41 PM
We don't really get along that well. lol

But sometimes we do. And sometimes we can set our differences aside for a couple of hours to do things with the kids (like a while back we all went to the circus together).

But yeah, we got along just long enough to do that kind of thing once in a great while, and then the rest of the time we are emotionally slugging each other in the face. lol

I see another issue coming up on the horizon now, slowly but surely. And that is the issue of my wife's boyfriend becoming a stronger presence in their lives. I'm starting to hear stupid shit out of her mouth like "Jason thinks this" or "Jason thinks that" and I can't help but think "Uh, I really don't give a fuck what Jason thinks" lol.

I think the BDay dinner with the 4 of you sounds great, but I also agree that the other 'grown-ups' in their lives should put the children first, not their own personal issues. When I first met my husband's parents, they told me quite clearly that they loved their grandchildren (my now 2 step kids) and would continue to have a relationship with my hubby's ex wife so that they could continue to have a relationship with the kids. I thought it was great.

As far as "Jason thinks blah, blah, blah" I only pray my husband's ex hears this same thing, lmao. Sorry for you, but if you are hearing it then 'Jason' is probably hearing it 20x as much, just like I do. Every single thing is "mom, mom, mom", even when whatever item at hand has nothing to do with mom. /shrug. It sucks...and as a step parent who's step kids have a moron for a mother, it gets frustrating, but I suck it up. They like having 3 parents, and that is all that really counts.
I will admit, I take petty pride in correcting whatever info she erroneously gives them. She is notorious for making crap up, and I find perverse satisfaction in encouraging the kids to research their own questions (which usually refutes her silliness). *I* don't tell them their mom is wrong, the encyclopedia does ALL the time though.

althrasher
05-05-2008, 07:46 PM
As a divorced kid:

We always had two of everything. It was always fine--and a lot of fun to have two parties.

No, our parents didn't hate each other, but they sure weren't good buddies. We knew that, and it never really bothered us (unless one would go on a rant about the other...then we'd have to tell them to STFU.)

How old are your kids? That could make a difference...

LIVIN
05-05-2008, 07:56 PM
How about telling the grown-ups to act like freaking grown-ups for two hours a year? Gah, that sucks for your kids.

True dat.

maestrowork
05-05-2008, 08:14 PM
Are these parties for the kid or you adults? I think everyone should act responsibly and do it for the sake of the kids and set their pettiness aside. Or cancel the parties altogether because obviously the priorities are all skewed. Now, if the adults clearly would just kill each other in each other's presence, then have two separate parties. Everyone is happy, and the kid gets to eat cake twice.

DWSTXS
05-05-2008, 08:20 PM
This is what I was going to say too. Sure... the kids would love to have two parties. But if you and your wife want them together (which I think is a fantastic idea to show yourselves as a parenting team), you should tell your parents to buck up and come to the plate. There is no reason they couldn't treat your ex-wife with respect for two hours for your childrens' sake.

Originally Posted by Siddow http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/buttons/viewpost.gif (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2323724#post2323724)
How about telling the grown-ups to act like freaking grown-ups for two hours a year? Gah, that sucks for your kids.


exactly! demand that these people (grownups, no less!) toe the line for 2 hours!

CaroGirl
05-05-2008, 08:29 PM
How about telling the grown-ups to act like freaking grown-ups for two hours a year?
I don't agree with this. A long time ago I realized I couldn't even control my own kids most of the time. You know, the human beings that I'm actually responsible for for the first 18 years of their lives (probably longer). How on earth can you expect to control a potentially volatile situation involving several adults? Sure, you can ask them to behave, but will they? What are you going to do if they don't? Send them to their rooms without dessert? This is not an ideal world we live in.

You can't control what other people do. You can only control the situation you put yourself and your kids in.

Jersey Chick
05-05-2008, 08:32 PM
Make them sit in the corner, facing the wall, and tell them they can't have any cake or goody bags until they behave like grown people. ;)

maestrowork
05-05-2008, 08:34 PM
If they don't behave, no cakes for them.

Plus they won't be invited back. Sorry, the kids come first. If they want to be part of the kid's life as grandparents, then behave or else.

I know you can't control people, but what you can control is the consequences. Determine what you want for your kids, then set the rules for those who can choose to observe or not. Let them know precisely the consequences. You are the kids' parent, then act on their interest instead of those who choose to be infants.

And I've got to agree with Kevin. The ex is still the MOTHER of the child, an important person in the child's life. Show her some respect, at least for those two hours. Or else.

DWSTXS
05-05-2008, 08:35 PM
If they don't behave, no cakes for them.

Plus they won't be invited back. Sorry, the kids come first. If they want to be part of the kid's life as grandparents, then behave or else.

I know you can't control people, but what you can control is the consequences. Determine what you want for your kids, then set the rules for those who can choose to observe or not. Let them know precisely the consequences. You are the kids' parent, then act on their interest instead of those who choose to be infants.


also, if the parents misbehave, MAKE them LEAVE. seriously. put your foot down, make the law, and enforce it.

ACEnders
05-05-2008, 08:40 PM
I think that you guys should either

1 - have a family dinner or something with just you, your ex, and your children.

or

2 - throw seperate parties.

As a child of divorce, I can confirm what many othe rpeople have already said. Children know things. More things than you think. I knew my parents were having problems way before they ever told us or even before they ever fought in front of us. I sensed the tension and even wrote about it in my diary.

I know you want to do what's best for your children, but I think what you want to do may cause more stress for you than you need. I also think that it may not be as good for your children as you hope. I forget..how young are they? I wouldn't want you to accidentally confuse them ... make them think that maybe mommy and daddy are getting back together, you know? Does that make sense? I know that's noto your intention, but I wouldn't want that to happen. Kids hold on to that hope anyway, without you throwing both families back together. You know?

James81
05-05-2008, 11:19 PM
As far as "Jason thinks blah, blah, blah" I only pray my husband's ex hears this same thing, lmao. Sorry for you, but if you are hearing it then 'Jason' is probably hearing it 20x as much, just like I do. Every single thing is "mom, mom, mom", even when whatever item at hand has nothing to do with mom. /shrug. It sucks...and as a step parent who's step kids have a moron for a mother, it gets frustrating, but I suck it up. They like having 3 parents, and that is all that really counts.
I will admit, I take petty pride in correcting whatever info she erroneously gives them. She is notorious for making crap up, and I find perverse satisfaction in encouraging the kids to research their own questions (which usually refutes her silliness). *I* don't tell them their mom is wrong, the encyclopedia does ALL the time though.

I don't mean to be an ass, but that's the way it SHOULD be. If your STEP (<---LOOK AT THAT WORD--THOSE KIDS AREN'T YOUR KIDS) kids want to talk about their mother 20 times a day, then their mother is doing SOMETHING right (unless they are complaining).

The way I see it, step parents need to stay the hell out of it as much as they can. I would be thrilled to death if "Jason" had to hear about me 500 times a day. A small price to pay for him f**king my wife behind my back, don't you think? :D

James81
05-05-2008, 11:21 PM
I think that you guys should either

1 - have a family dinner or something with just you, your ex, and your children.

or

2 - throw seperate parties.

As a child of divorce, I can confirm what many othe rpeople have already said. Children know things. More things than you think. I knew my parents were having problems way before they ever told us or even before they ever fought in front of us. I sensed the tension and even wrote about it in my diary.

I know you want to do what's best for your children, but I think what you want to do may cause more stress for you than you need. I also think that it may not be as good for your children as you hope. I forget..how young are they? I wouldn't want you to accidentally confuse them ... make them think that maybe mommy and daddy are getting back together, you know? Does that make sense? I know that's noto your intention, but I wouldn't want that to happen. Kids hold on to that hope anyway, without you throwing both families back together. You know?

I think you're right (and it seems that the consensus from all the people here who have divorced parents is the same thing--throw separate parties).

I'm going to pitch the idea of having a birthday dinner with the kids and my ex ON their birthday, and then have two separate parties. That seems like the best of both worlds to me (assuming me and her get along well enough to do it), PLUS they get THREE parties instead of even two.

Eskimo1990
05-06-2008, 01:02 AM
Being a child from a divorce, it's better to have two parties.

The first year after my parents got divorce I was having a family party. My grandma, aunt, uncle from my mom's side all refused to go. It bugged me, but I really didn't expect them to. I still really wanted my mom to be there.

I was dead set on having her be there. But then she took me for a drive and explained that it would be extremely uncomfortable for her to be there with all of them.
So I got two parties.

Children can sense things, and they're going to know something is up.

It's better to have two good parties then one lousy party the kid is going to hate.

Good luck.

POPASMOKE
05-06-2008, 01:07 AM
I'm kind of torn on whether or not it's really WORTH it to try to have the parties together or not. So, if there are any people out there who come from a home where your parents divorced, could you weigh in with your opinion on this? I want to do the right thing for my kids, and right now I am confused as to what that is.

James, having been there in my youth, we always had two parties. However, as nearly all have pointed out on this thread, the most important focus is your children, not the adults!

It would be nice if your family could suck it up for 2 hours, even if your ex did piss them off. I'd discuss it with your family. As others have pointed out, children are very perceptive. If your family attends and is "faking" it, the kids will pick up on that and it will make for an uncomfortable event for them. If your family can "be there" for the kids, well and fine, if not, split it up.