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Co-parenting Birthday Parties
My daughter celebrated her 12th birthday on the weekend. She opted for a low key celebration – invited some of her girl friends from school and watched a movie, danced to their own kind of music, and believe or not, sang to some karaoke!
Her little sister, Miss 9, got to invite one friend as well, so that kept everyone happy… except for our poor little Reagle (Rottweiler x Beagle), Evie, who was forced to spend the afternoon in the yard. She was however given a very LARGE dog bone to relish!
So anyway, I recently asked a question in a Facebook group – How do you manage birthday celebrations and special occasions? It was really encouraging to learn that many families have managed to keep good (or at the very least, civil!) relationships with the exes for the sake of their children – Grown ups acting like grown ups and coming together at birthday parties. That is so nice ♥
My children’s dad moved to Canada a couple of months ago. I mentioned in another post, that after we separated, he was quite abusive in a psychological and verbal nature. So it’s safe to say that this was also the first birthday/occasion that we didn’t feel guilty, worried, scared and all the other emotions of a similar nature.
I had always hoped that her father and I could have had a more amicable relationship. God knows, I tried. I tried so many different ways of engaging with him… but it never worked.
3 Easy Rules to Remember When Co-parenting Birthday Parties Isn’t Possible
1. Keep It Real
Tell your child that Mum or Dad cannot be invited at this time because they are still learning to cope with the situation. Grown ups need some time to learn too.
2. Never Ask Them to Keep Secrets for You
If they want to tell your ex that they are having a party, let them. It is not healthy for children to keep your secrets for you. It’s a happy celebration, so they should be able to be excited about it. Over the last few birthdays and occasions (school events) – my children always made it a point to invite their Dad. My partner and I never asked them to keep them secret – why should they? He always said no though… but that was his choice.
Your child will have some questions, doubts, worries, and fears. Allow them to tell you, and make sure you listen and validate them. Let them know that you understand what they are feeling and why they are feeling it. Explain to them that it’s okay.
So, when you can, put all the guilt aside – think about what it does to your child… and to yourself!
Check out the following resources to help you through situations when co-parenting just isn’t possible.
- Joint Custody With a Jerk
- Divorce Poison New and Updated Edition: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing
- Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex: What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You