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Holiday's specifically birthday's have become an issue with our family recently. How do your families handle birthday's between mom's family and dad's family? BF and I are not happy with the effect this issue is having on our relationship. For example BF's kids have a family party with dad's family and mine, a kids party with their friends and then a family party with mom's family. The challenge is that we (BF and I) are invited to the family party at mom's house. With child 1 we did not attend since we already had plans and it wasn't our weekend with the kids. Child 2's party with mom's family was scheduled on our weekend. How do I go about explaining to child 2 that I will not be attending? I've tried working through speaking to the kids about this without judgment toward BF's ex but I'm finding it very hard given that this is our weekend with the kids. With child 1 I focused on that it was their special time with mommy and we were going out of state made it easier. Thanks!
First of all, you've got to stop worrying about whose weekend it is. This is the CHILDS special day and they want all the people they love around! They don't want their day to be overshadowed by "I wish my dad/mom ws here". Surely you and your BF can put aside the differences you have with bio-mom/dad for one day a year and just get along for the sake of the child! I can't stand my DH's ex (you'll see me refer to her as the 99% of the time). However, with 4 children involved, we have to deal with her much of the time. My stepchildren have NO CLUE I don't like their mother and they will never know. That is their MOM! They love her and it would hurt them to think that I don't like her. When she plans b-day parties for the kids, my first question to her is "What can I do to help?". That isn't to make it easier for her but to make the day more special for the child. Now, my DH takes each of his girls for a "Day with daddy" around their birthday. He spends the entire day with them and they love it! They go out to lunch, a movie and shopping for their b-day gift. I don't go and neither do any of the other kids. If they want us to come to their b-day party also, we go. If their mom plans something like a slumber party, we don't. It's all what is planned and if the CHILD wants us there. They know that I go where daddy goes and so does . So if she doesn't want me around (a very real possibility as she feels the same way about me as I do about her) then she plans something where daddy would not be an expected part of the celebrations.
My advice is to ask the children what THEY want and plan accordingly. Let them call the shots for this one day a year. Now with holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, they usually come here because the is too lazy to cook a special holiday meal and they'd wind up having McDonalds for Christmas dinner. Christmas day, they spend part of the day with her and part with us. We alternate mornings and afternoons every year. It's hard to split these times up but keep in mind, the easier and more fun you make it now, the more likely those kids will be to come "home" later when they're older and have families of their own. If their childhood memories are all of stressed out times with mom and dad fighting over petty things like who gets the kids for this day or that, they won't want to re-enact those times as grownups. You're right to focus on "special time with mommy" but it's going to get harder as time goes on when you want to plan something special and suddenly bio-mom comes up with prior commitments so you need to be able to keep the lines of communication open with her. It's going to become even harder if you and your BF get married and have some kids of your own. Then, not only do they want daddy at the party, but they want their brother or sister there as well. Lay the groundwork for those times NOW! I promise you, the kids will appreciate the sacrifices you make when they're old enough to understand exactly how great a sacrifice it was! You have two stepkids. 2 days out of 365...is it really that big a deal to just go to a 4 hour birthday party twice a year to make the kids feel special?
I agree with most of what Dani has said. I do feel that you need to get along as best you can for the kids.
BUT, planning the birthday party on your BF's weekend is overstepping her authority if you ask me. This is of course IF she didn't mention something to him beforehand. In our house we have both boys (DH's and Mine) living with us. They are 5 days apart and we have a combined birthday party for them which includes family and their friends. The other parents are not ever invited (they could come if they wanted but neither of them would show anyway) and they always have a party at their house. We always try to make their party for the weekend between their birthdays but some years it has to be either before or after both birthdays instead of just the one child because it is not our weekend with them.
In a perfect world we would all have just one party for our children and ex's would join forces to make the day completely about the child but unfortunately it is not like that for most of us.
For Eric's daughter, she has a party with us and a party with her mom. Bio-mom and DH cannot stand to be in the same room. Skyler loves having 2 parties and has never even questioned this. She was 15 months old when DH and I got together so she doesn't remember anything different.
With my boys, we take turns with their bio father (one year he does Chandler and I do Parker then we switch the next year). We just take turns paying the bill really The parties are with my family, DH's family, Ex's family, step mom's family, and Parker/Chandler's friends. The parties can get a little crazy but everyone gets along for the most part. Sometimes my IL's don't attend just depends on their mood. If they don't then we have a birthday dinner with just them.