Including your ex in planning for your children's birthdays after divorce is something that would make most women cringe.
But, it's really not as bad as it seems and can make the occasion a lot more special for your child. And after all, that's what birthdays are all about. For proof, keep reading...
by Heidi Woodard
My son's birthday is in the spring. It was a big deal for him because we recently moved to the Dallas area and this was his first birthday celebration in our new community. We had several conversations on the kind of party he wanted to have, who would attend and where it would be held. But I didn't facilitate a conversation that would allow him to settle on any definite choices beyond which boys in his fifth grade class would be invited.
Unbeknownst to him, my Perfect (ex-) Husband and I already discussed exactly how we were going to celebrate. We decided on a sleep-over at a nearby hotel. Pizza, movies and snacks between swimming and games at the hotel would exhaust them enough to make the sleep-over portion relatively quiet. We'd have breakfast in the morning, followed by thank-you and good-byes to complete the party. When all was said and done, my son had a blast with his friends, received some very cool gifts and was ecstatic with the success of his birthday bash.
Now this may seem pretty typical, no big deal right? Well, let me fill you in on some of the particulars. In making the party arrangements, I researched the nearby hotels and, based on price, proximity and amenities, decided which ones to check out. While I visited the hotels, my Perfect (ex-) Husband and I were on the phone discussing the pros and cons of each venue. When we decided on the right location, I made a reservation for him at the hotel (he lives in Florida) and checked on a couple of flights.
We then both stayed at the hotel (separate beds of course), met the kid's parents, chaperoned the party, got the boys up and ready for breakfast, waited for all the parents to pick-up their kids and checked out of the hotel. In case you're still a little slow on the uptake, we worked together through all aspects of the party because it was important to our son. And we were able to do it without strife, conflict or weird feelings because we have consciously decided that having a good relationship is the very best situation we can create for our son's stability.
Now you may feel this was a bit overboard, like maybe I can't plan a party without my Perfect (ex-) Husband's input and approval. I assure you, with years of special event planning under my belt; the party was not the issue.
Instead of looking at it that way, consider this: we are both interested in our son having the full benefit of two parents. As a result, neither of us bears the full weight of raising a child, from deciding on the best school and appropriate dating age to being on the same page with respect to responsibilities, privileges and punishments.
You see, creating a Perfect (ex-) Marriage is beneficial to all involved, and all the work you put into it is well worth the time and effort. A couple of days after the party my son said to me, "I have the coolest parents in the world because you both work together to make me happy." That was the sweetest reward I could image for the years it took to get to this place in our lives. Our son recognizes our effort. Later that day I called my Perfect (ex-) Husband to share that comment with him.
Hey listen; you're not walking this road alone. I'll share my pitfalls and successes with you and we will journey to the other side together. Be encouraged!
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Copyright. From Heidi Woodard's My Perfect (ex-) Marriage column, including:
Talking to Ex's - Complimenting without Compromising