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Grandkids birthday parties with his ex, at her home

ejlessard's picture

My step daughter continues to opt to hold the grandkids birthday parties at her mother's home, my husbands ex wife. The first year, when the boy turned 2 (this actually happened when we were engaged), I agreed to go and give it a try. Agreeing that if it was uncomfortable, that I could say I tried and would not have to go through that again. Well it went horribly. Everyone was tense. I later heard from another step daughter and an external party how the ex wife had complained that she hadn't wanted us there. I really do not blame her. My then finace and I discussed it and said we wouldn't go through that again. We even discussed it with our pastor in our pre-marital counselling sessions. The pastor told him he needs to put his new wife first....

Last year this happened again. My husband talked to his daughter and told her how this makes us feel. He told her we have no issues having a joint party but we would feel better is it was at a neutral place. She seemed to understand but that party was already planned so we did not attend. We spent another evening with them instead.

Here we are again, now with a first birthday party for the second grandson and again she is holding it at his ex wife's. I expressed my distraught feelings and disbelief that we continue to go through this and it is very upsetting for me. When my husband talked to his daughter, now she says she didn't ask for her parents to divorce so we should just suck it up. Now my husband is feeling caught in the middle. He is a people pleaser so he says he will just go even though he doesn't want to. I told him that I feel it is disrespectful, to him, me and the mom's new husband. She says she doesn't feel she needs to have 2 parties. We don't expect two parties, just have it elsewhere!

I feel that until she has gone through divorce and knows how it feels, she cannot begin to understand how awkward it is to go into the ex wife's home. I think my step daughter needs to respect her parent's choices that they divorced and are both remarried. Am I totally wrong here and having blinders on? Am I wrong that I feel this should be a non-issue since we had agreed on this before we married?

ldvilen's picture

No, she didn't ask for her parents to divorce, but neither did you. You didn't ask for her parents to divorce either, I'm sure.

Too many SKs as adults expect that SM or step-dad continue to suck it up and take it for them. If anyone has this responsibility, it is their parents that need to suck it up and take it. No adult should ever expect SM or step-dad to do so, especially when the SKs are adults.

This is just me, but personally, in this case, I would let DH go alone. I agree, I'm sure it was very uncomfortable for you to be there and probably somewhat intentionally so. Too many SKs as adults, and even BM have the expectations that when dad and BM are around, dad is supposed to be joined-at-the hip with BM, just like the good ol' days. SM is often blamed for intruding and not minding her place, when in reality she is just acting like what she is--her husband's wife.

Me, I decided to just let my husband pick and choose which events involving BM that he wants to go to alone. This may seem like a SK's dream, but in reality, I can tell you my husband will not go to many alone.

hereiam's picture

I don't think it's unreasonable to ask that the parties be held in a neutral location, it sounds like the ex-wife would prefer that, as well. I wonder why the ex doesn't say something about having the parties elsewhere.

Your SD is being very obstinate. A lot of people don't want joint parties at all, but you and your husband are, at least, willing to do that much, she could compromise a little.

Everybody else should just suck it up because she didn't ask for her parents to be divorced? Oh, please. :sick:

Acratopotes's picture

my 2 cents - you are not related to this child, just because you married the grand father does not make you a grand mother...... you can decline going and DH can go on his own for an hour or 2 if he wants to

ejlessard's picture

We have attended events together at neutral places and they have gone fine. We are all polite to one another but we certainly do not mingle. We have even offered to pay for renting a place to hold the parties.

Another one of the girls is getting married and recently we all got together to pick the rental items. That went fine but after that I met the ex at the mall and she looked away when she saw me. I made a point of saying hello to her. So when someone treats you this way you really do not feel welcome in their home. Their divorce was an ugly one so my husband and his ex will never be besties! Therefore I do not blame his ex for not liking me but we can certainly be civil for the sake of the kids.

notasm3's picture

These big birthday parties for 1 and 2 year olds are nothing but gift grabs. Don't anyone kid themselves that the parties are "for the children". These toddlers usually just know that a bunch of people are around (and many don't like it).

It's just an event for the adults to get together. And there's no mandatory reason for exes to party together.

I see nothing wrong with the BM hosting a birthday party for her grandchild. But to defend the BM - she is not obligated to invite every person who shares DNA with that child. I think it's disrespectful to the hostess for her to be pushed to invite people into her home that she doesn't want there.

Other relatives can celebrate with the child at another time and place.

My DH's grandson just had his first birthday. The GF's mother hosted a big party. I conveniently was out of town. DH went for a short while, but said he was bored to tears. He said his ex and her DH came but sat out by themselves in the backyard and didn't talk to anyone. So what was the point in getting all these people together who didn't really want to spend time with each other - well the GIFTS of course. The one year old sure didn't care.

notasm3's picture

Families getting together is a GOOD thing. But the exes are no longer a family. I think the SD's mother should get as much of her family together as they want - but why should the BM be pressured to invite non family members (her ex and his wife) to her family gathering?

My mother had 7 sisters. Family gatherings happened all the time. Some of my best memories. No presents for birthdays as everyone was poor. Somebody might stick a candle in a cake and have happy birthday sung if it was someone's birthday, but it was never that big of a deal.

ejlessard's picture

Actually we all have great relationships and are close. The SD is closer to her dad than her mother as there was abuse from the mother during her younger years. The SD is now trying to reconcile with her mother which is great and we are supportive of.

Stepped in what momma's picture

I'm probably going to be the only one that agrees with you because YES her parents did divorce and while that wasn't her fault or her choice the fact is that they are divorced. How would good old SD like it if you invited her ex husband to YOUR home for Christmas dinner because it isn't YOUR fault they got divorced and you happen to have a special place in your heart for the ex? SD would shi* kittens but essentially she is not accommodating the same "special need" in her family that has now been crippled by divorce. This move is just another way that people devise to alienate the new spouse.

I was always very accommodating to my divorced parents, I also always kept my step dad and step mom in mind when planning parties, yes, it did suck to have two of most of everything but having one on one time with my mom and her new husband (vice versa with my dad) while they were able to relax and be comfortable was more important to me than shoving my step mom down my moms throat, plus my own mom didn't want to deal with her ex husband. I would tell my dad that I/we were having a house warming party for moms and her side of the family on blah blah date and then tell him we were having "his" housewarming dinner party for him and his side of the family on the week after. It is just plain old common sense, 99.9% of all of do NOT want to hang out with our EX. This isn't 1920, everyone has practically been divorced once and if you haven't been then count yourself lucky because it sucks for EVERYONE but how you handle it is the key to happiness for everyone involved. I wouldn't want to have to hang out with me EX so I treated my parents with the same respect.

Disneyfan's picture

If SD moves the party to place you approve of, are you willing to cover the added expenses?

A guest doesn't get to tell a host where to hold her event. If you are do not want to go to BM's home(I do not blame you one bit)then just decline the invite.

Stepped in what momma's picture

If SD has it at her own house she should alternate parties and years. For example, this year grandma will be at house party and we will go to dinner with grandpa and his side the next week, the next year grandpa will be at house party and they will go to dinner with grandma and her side of the family the next week. It isn't that hard to accommodate, kids adjust and know no different, they just want the gifts.

Stepped in what momma's picture

So the next assumption would be that they want to see their family.... and they will, they will see grandma at their party and then grandpa at dinner the next week by alternating years.

Disneyfan's picture

Can you imagine the uproar here if a SM were expected to alter her child's party plans in order to please her adult SKs?

The adult SKs would be to grow up and deal with it or do not attend. Why should that view point change when the SM is the one who has an issue with the plans?

Merrywey's picture

At least you get invited to the parties Smile We don't any more. But I get how you feel and it really is a passive aggressive move on your SDs part. I don't buy this bs that it isn't her fault that her parents got divorced, she can hold the party wherever she wishes...she certainly can. Or she can be a decent human being and consider alternating location so both grandparents get to know and enjoy their grandparents. My daughter and I are very close but if she treated her dad and SM in this manner I would rain fire down on her head. I don't know why so many on this board explain away actions that effectively diminish the role of fathers in their children's lives. For now your DH should go alone, if he is comfortable with excluding his wife from family celebrations. Because as his wife, you are his family too.

ksmom14's picture

I think the answer here is pretty simple...

You and your DH have expressed your point of view, which is totally valid. However, it's SD's choice where the party is held, and she makes that choice knowing that you and DH may or may not attend if it is hosted at BM's house. You've said your piece, she will make her choices, and you and DH need to make yours. Whether that's sucking it up and continuing to attend, you not going, but your DH going, or neither of you going.

Basically it is what it is, she's and adult and it's her child, she gets to make decisions on where the party is. You get to make decisions on what you want to do about it. Maybe in the future she would consider hosting elsewhere if you and your DH didn't attend because of the venue.

Stepped in what momma's picture

ksmom nailed it, I only said what I think is fair on how to handle the parties to begin with, but her point is that SD has made her decision on how she will handle the parties and based on that it is up to you to decide what you are going to do. I know I wouldn't go and I am very positive that my SO wouldn't go either, but if he did go, to me parents have the right to decide what type of treatment they will allow from their children in order to have a relationship with them.

ejlessard's picture

My husband is supportive and says we will not be going. I did tell him he can go but not to expect me there (and I do not want him lying to anyone in my defense, I believe in honesty). I just feel horrible over this situation because I feel his daughter is not willing to compromise at any level and I know that it is more hurtful to him than it is to me. We will have a separate party and host it ourselves as we did last year for the other child. It is simply very hurtful that she makes him feel guilty but that is her problem to deal with....and his to discuss with her. The SD does have room in her home to host 11 invited guests so space is not the issue in this situation. But as everyone on here says, it won't be the kids that know anything as they were already separated before the first grandchild was even born. I agree with those that say why would you want a group of people together that want nothing to do with one another at the same party? Why not have separate parties where everyone can be happy? But SD can make her choice and do whatever she wants. Her dad and I still have the right to feel that it is disrespectful to do this and not be accepting of us saying we are not coming to his exes for the party. Her comments are pretty much that if we don't come, then we don't love the boys. Which is totally unfair. It is was it is. Thank you to everyone for your feedback. Greatly appreciated.

Twinkletoes's picture

your sd is being incondiserate of your dhs feelings. He told her how he felt and she just went on anyway. I think you should celebrate the birthday of gkids with them and you. You do not have to go to a party where everyone is clearly uncomfortable. Life is short-who needs all this stress. Plan a special day and take the gkids to chuckeecheese or any place like this. After all that's where the children would rather be anyway, A place where they can have fun. Im sorry but it seems to me like sd is a pot stirrer. Do not enable her-she afterall should want her childs party to be as pleasant as happy as if could be. Why add drama. Theres no reason why this child cant have more than one celebration. That is what divorced homes do.,The child gets to have more than one special day and everyone is happy.

Rags's picture

Yes it should be a non issue... but since it is.... set yourself up to win. SD is right that she did not ask her parents to divorce. However, that is irrelevant to the situation IMHO. But since SD and BM appear to be partnering in this manipulative GSKid birthday event effort it is time to step up and hand them their own asses.

Go to the GSkid B-day parties on your DH's arm. Look radiant, beam your happiness, and own the event. No need to make it about you but for sure do not let it be about the XW either. Being happy and radiant in the presence of a toxic blended family opposition is much like turning on a bright light in a roach filled room. The roaches scurry for the shadows. You be the light, the roaches will scurry.

Be confident and your DH will be proud and confident to have you on his arm. If you are radiant and confident DH will be too and that will set just the right tone for the event and demonstrate to his GKids that G-Pa is a great guy, happy, and engaging and Gma-EJ isn't so bad either. What mother can take issue with her own father and his wife being good grandparents to her children?

And at some other time either before or after the actual party you and DH can have a separate celebration with SD and her family to celebrate birthdays. There is nothing wrong with double dipping on the GK birthday celebrations.

Living well is the best way to win and is also the best revenge. You an DH can use this very effectively to your advantage as you navigate the course of being blended family grand parents together.

Good luck and have fun.

Disillusioned's picture

I think if there were lots of people there then I would go and just have the best time that I could.

Yes I understand how this can make you uncomfortable, but if there's a crowd there and you don't have to see BM much, then just go and try to enjoy yourself, and your DH will appreciate the support too

My OSD went through a whole phase (hopefully ended now) where not only were DH & I expected to "suck it up" and be at the same events as BM - which we have no problem with - but these were small family get together's specifically for DH's family only. And BM being at those events was what we had a problem with

DH was pretty vocal about it, it did not end. We stopped going to some of his family's get together's, it still did not end.

What finally seems to have put a stop to it, was at the last big event - this one it made sense that both DH and BM were there - but we had a nice time, completely ignored BM (something I've never done to her before) and so did DH. We chit-chatted with other people at the party, we made a big fuss over the grandkids, we had a really nice time talking with SSIL's parents, and BM finally got the message that she really didn't matter all that much to either one of us.

After this event, OSD has not hosted one more event that is specifically for DH's family only, that included BM.


Well I think they didn't get the desired effect. We had a great time and paid zero attention to them, and that wasn't what they wanted at all. They wanted us (me) to feel uncomfortable, inferior, unimportant - and the exact opposite happened. Not only did we (me) not feel that way, but apparently BM/OSD/SIL did Biggrin

NMO's picture

I too have been in this situation. Prior to marrying my H (we had dating 4 years at the time), my H's daughter (instructed not to call her my SD) had a baby shower at her BM house, and invited me. Her sister was coordinating the shower and actually asked me to make some food for the shower, as their BM doesn't cook. I agreed.

Talk about uncomfortable! I got there with my food, helped them set everything up, BM just stood around saying "I'm not sure how to help, I don't cook, etc..." THEN to top things off, I look at her refrig. in the kitchen. It has two snap shots of my now H and his 2 D on the doors with magnets. They were pics that had been taken recently of the 3 of them that BM had obtained from FB.

Everyone else at the event was nice to me. BM wouldn't leave me alone, she kept sitting next to me, etc.. trying to be my "best friend". Then when my H came to get me, she ran out of the house to his car and wanted him to come in and see all the renovations she has made to the house. They have been divorced for 25+ years. He declined and we left.

We are now married and have a 2nd Bday party for my H GD coming up next month. However, it will be at H D house, and not at BM house. However, she will be there, just the same. We do "suck it up" bc of the little one...but now only on Bdays. We just declined Easter, bc we are just not comfortable being in BM presence, even at my H son in laws parents home. She drives us nuts. So we celebrated together and sent GD a video wishing her happy Easter.

We too have heard "it's not my fault that you two got divorced", but I agree with the ones above that consideration should be given to all parties. I couldn't love that little one any more if she was biologically mine, but I will not be made feel "less than" or be subject to the "remember when..." of a BM who was married to my H for 8 years in her 20's...and we are now 61. I'm done with that.

Stay strong, and again, if it doesn't feel good, don't do it!