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Joint birthday parties

Mich811's picture

The birthdays of my skids are swiftly approaching. Traditionally this means we host a party with BM, although BM and DH call all the shots and I just appear at the party.

This year, because of BM's extreme hostility towards me, my therapist has advised me to ask DH to not put me in situations where I have to interact (or even see) her. To me, this means that we need to rethink the birthday -- either we host a separate party (DH said NO bc it isn't fair to the kids, and would be weird to invite all their friends 2x) or I don't attend.

I'm already totally alientated from life with these kids, and I think excluding me from their parties will just make them feel like I'm intentionally avoiding them and generally make everything worse.

Anyone have any suggestions?


Last-Wife's picture

We always had joint parties because it was good for the kids to see us work together. However, it seems that this year, this is not best for YOU. How old are the skids? You don't want to hurt their feelings, and you don't want BM to feel like she "won..."

Suggestion. Plan to be there. Then get sick the morning of, or have a work crisis or something you can't get out of... Or show up for 15 minutes, and then leave. Make a point the skids see you, but sneak out shortly after... They'll be so busy, they won't even notice your gone.

Mich811's picture

I definitely think this is true, and in an ideal situation we'd be able to show the kids that we all get along...makes me sad that the reality is so different.

I like your suggestions. I don't like the sneaking, but I think it is essential given the situation. These things just make me hate BM more than ever.

bribaby1105's picture

I have been there and done that! When my SD turned 4 (she is now 10) BM didn't want me to attend the b-day party. My husband said, "well than I am not attending" and we had our own party. The day before BM's party, she called and said "fine, you can bring her" I think it would be unfair of your husband to expect you to be in an uncomfortable situation, and maybe he could reconsider and have a small get together with his side of the family for cake and still allow BM to have the larger party. I know the kids should come first, but he also needs to consider your feelings as you are now a vital part of his life.

Mich811's picture

yes, she pulled that last year, and DH told her that I'd be attending, regardless of what she wanted. so...i went, and she refused to speak to me or look me in the eye, and it was totally uncomfortable for me and awkward for the kids.

the problem here is that DH definitely WON'T be ok with the kids having a party and him not attending. so, we could do the small family party for us, but he'd definitely insist on going to the larger "kid" party, too. that's how my DH, i'd wind up excluded from that party, the kids would think it is weird and would probably be angry that i didn't show up.

stormabruin's picture

DH is missing something if he feels your mental health ranks below the hassel of inviting kids to 2 parties? Do your skids have a group of friends they see when they're with you that they don't see when they're with BM? If so, she can invite the group of friends in her circle & you can invite the group of friends in your circle.

Otherwise, friends can be invited to BM's party & family can be invited to yours.

It's not weird to have 2 parties. What's weird is DH going to BM's party without you.

Mich811's picture

I think DH thinks the other kids would find it "weird" to be invited to two parties, and he doesn't want his kids to feel uncomfortable about the divorce. And overlaps in friends. They are pretty young kids, and all their friends are school kids.

I like the idea of having a family only party, but DH won't agree to not attend the kid party...for sure. Not sure how I feel about that. It does seem weird for DH to go to the party without me.

The good thing is that I've started to become more friendly (definitely not "friends," but at least "friendly") with some of the mothers of the kids, and that is helping me feel more adjusted.

PoisonApples's picture

We wouldn't dream of having joint parties.

What's wrong with separate ones? I don't see how it's not fair for them. I think most kids would LOVE to have 2 parties.

We don't invite the kids from school to ours. It's us and SO's family - lots of cousins the kids ages, and neighbor kids. They don't need to have 2 big parties with all their friends.

Mich811's picture

I guess DH thinks other kids would find it weird. He's very focused on how the kids feel about these things.

PoisonApples's picture

Well, I can't speak for ALL kids of course but I can tell you for a fact that my SDs LOVE that they get to have 2 parties, 2 cakes, 2 special days for their birthdays.

Mich811's picture

how do your skids handle the fact that their parents are divorced? I think we feel that the skids are really uncomfortable about it, so i think one aspect of these parties is to put on a normal front to the world.

PoisonApples's picture

I think we feel that the skids are really uncomfortable about it, so i think one aspect of these parties is to put on a normal front to the world.

They will be as comfortable with it as their parents are.

I think a lot of divorced parents put a lot of neurosis on their kids by attributing emotions and problems on them that didn't exist. By assuming they do have those problems and trying to 'deal' with them, these parents give the children the problems when they may not have had them otherwise.

EDIT - You say you are putting on a 'normal front to the world'. Do you think the kids fall for that 'normal front'? I doubt they do.

Honestly, I think you should consider that you may be doing them more harm than good with that approach.

Mich811's picture

that's just the thing. BM refuses to speak to me, just glares at me and won't interact with yeah...not comfortable.

just to be clear, I do NOT think this whole "put on a normal front" works, makes sense or is healthy for anyone. how could the kids think it is normal if their mother literally will not look at me? I'm just repeating what DH and his ex are going for with these joint parties, which I think don't really work at all.

Mich811's picture

I read everyone's posts, and I just think it is so crazy for us to try to be a step-family in Manhattan, where we have no room for the kids to play outside so we are constantly all on top of each other...where friends are never neighbors, but only kids from school (huge imbalance because DH and I work, so BM has all the interactions there)... It just seems like life can be so much healthier and normal outside of the city. Rant over.

forever2's picture

Separate parties for sure!!! We had one joint party with BM which ended up BF and I sitting in BM's living room while the kids ran around outside not even knowing were were there and BM reminiscing about what kind of flowers she and my BF had in their wedding bouquet! It was hell. Now everytime I see a particular type of lilly I want to vomit. And not like I could walk out during a kid's b-day party. Anyway, I digress (this site is so good to purge hard feelings). Anyway, separate parties can be great for kids depending how you present my friends growing up who had parents from different religions and GOT TO celebrate both Christmas and Hannukah. Us Christmas only kids were so jealous. Your skids can choose 2 fun activities instead of one, have 2 sleepovers with 2 sets of friends, whatever. Why not? The kids already have 2 houses, 2 sets of friends (unless you live very close to BM), 2 sets of pets and clothes etc etc. It makes much more sense to have 2 parties too rather that putting yourself thru hell. Your BF or H and BM don't get along and aren't getting back together, so why confuse matters for your skids just one day per year? Everyone wins with separate parties.

Mich811's picture

THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I totally, completely agree. Where we live, these parties are little extravaganzas..

PrincessFiona's picture

I'm with beaccountable, I don't think kids need a party each and every year. There is something to be said for small intimate family gatherings. Birthday kids gets to pick a restruant for a family birthday dinner or pick the meal for home.

My ex and I and DH and his ex have both done joint partys but if it's causing stress it's not necessary. Maybe you and DH can deliver cookies or cupcakes to school (if the school allows or is in session) then just do a small family celebration.

PrincessFiona's picture

in our area kids seems to be into the sleepover, campout kind of thing more so around 4 - 6th grade, then they pretty much stop altogether.

stormabruin's picture

I think it partially depends on the BM (or really in our case BM's mom) & how badly they want/need to be noticed. BM's mom rented the pony for SS's 1st birthday & has gone all out for every birthday since then.

SS just turned 17. SD will be 14 in Sept. They still have all the friends at their parties at the skating rink. We weren't invited this year, but last year SS got a car & a laptop. BM asked DH to pay off SS's glasses for his birthday. DH knew he needed his glasses more than a "fun" gift, so that's what we did. BM said she felt her mom should be able to give him a "fun" gift.

If they need the praise & glory that bad, they can have it.

Mich811's picture

Well, that's good. My stepson is going into third grade, so thankfully the end is in sight. I imagine BM won't insist on joining us for a sleepover...but who knows.

stormabruin's picture

"I imagine BM won't insist on joining us for a sleepover...but who knows."

I wouldn't count it out. LOL! Smile

MamaBecky's picture

We have always had seperate parties until this year as a matter of fact. I agreed to a joint party for SD13 and at the last minute ended up getting shafted...BM called in sick and I got left holding the bill. We wont be doing a joint party with SD13's BM again. Separate parties it will be until her sweet 16.

Before my time SD4's first bday was a joint party but the subsequent three that followed which I have been involved in all have all been separate. BM's party is for her and her family and family friends and their kids and our party was for our side of the family and our family friends and their kids. It worked out well. The girls look forward to two parties!! This year though we decided to try a joint party for SD4 soon to be SD5. We agreed to split the cost and have family from both sides kids only. I am nervous a bit but excited to as I think SD4 will love having all of her cousins from both sides around at the same time.

If you want to celebrate the kids bdays but don't want to be uncomfortable or not follow your counselors advice, don't go to the party...let H go and do his daddy thing and then the next time that the kids are with you do something for them. Bake them a cake, make them dinner, let them have a cpl of friends spend the night. Throw them a little mini party that includes you as the "mom/hostess". Your H should appreciate the sentiment as well. This is what I would do in your situation.