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Birthdays with DSC-How do you do it?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
So my DSD's birthday is in a few weeks... at first we were going to go to her party that her Mom is throwing her, and also throw one with our families the next weekend.

From the begining I have been feeling super uncomfortable with going to her party with her Mom's family. I can't imagine DP feeling comfy there either. But he went last year when it was super awkward by himself and lived... but... I don't know...

I talked to him about it and how uncomfortable I am with it. We are throwing her our own party, it's not like he is skipping out on her. I just think it's too much to go to both. I told him flat out we are not going next year... I'm not setting up the resentment between the children of why Daddy has to go to two parties for Alex, and make them go to two of her parties too, when they only get one. I know a baby will not know any different.. But I will know, and I don't like it one bit.

I told him, she has her family with Mommy and her family with Daddy, and that's just how it is...

I feel awful about it, but he did see my point, but he still feels like he is skipping out on her... but we are throwing her, her own party with our family! Is there anything I can do to make him feel better about it?

Or should I just tell him to go? But I know DSD will be confused if he goes without me and she will be sad... she may even be sad that we are not there at all... But I just can't get around this in my head about her getting two parties and us being at both, when my child will only ever have one... it's not really fair.

How do you guys handle these things?
post #2 of 28
My thoughts on this:

If your DP goes, then you should go as well. If you guys are a partnership, one unit, then you go to parties together (barring some sort of work conflict, whatever).

If DSD had two parties, we would probably only attend the one that we are throwing. Is her mom coming to yours? If so, then maybe she really only needs one combined party.

For the past two years (the year before that DSD's mom was out of the state and we had a tiny little "party"), DSD has had huge, joint birthday parties. Last year, the bank robber paid for one of those jumper things. She had family from her mom's side, DF's side, my side. Plus friends of her mom.

For me, it is a little over-the-top. Opening all of those presents is excruciating to watch (anyone who has ever seen the pace at which a four year-old opens presents knows what I mean). But it seems to be the best way to do things.

I am a little worried about what will happen when DS is old enough to have birthday parties. He will not be having giant, expensive birthday parties, no matter how much money we have. But the age difference between the two kids is big enough where the big birthday parties will probably be winding down for her by the time DS is having them. When he is five, she'll be turning ten. By that time, I was on to slumber parties and things of that nature.

DF generally stays out of the party planning and DSD's mom and I do it jointly (I suspect this won't be happening for you guys, though). It is a little weird. She and I have different ways of planning parties. But we try to make it work. Last year, she did the food and I did the cake. She had it at her house, I did the invitations. I made the treat bags, her friend bought a pinata.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 
DSD's Mom did offer to have one large combined party... however this doesn't work for a few reasons. DP's parents don't want anything to do with her... they never liked her and are happy she is "out of the picture" for them. They were invited to the party last year and refused to go.

Also, I have a HUGE family. And none of them want to meet DSD's Mom and feel it is too weird to go and want no part of it... they'd rather us do our own party for them, which we are doing, to accomdate for everyone in our family.

I agree with you that if we go, we go as a Team... I just can't feel comfortable with going to the Mom's party... The only people from "our" family would be me and DP... I'd feel ridiculously out of place.
post #4 of 28
with my 2dsd we always had a b/d party closest to when they visited. Since we're so far away, we never had to deal with inviting their friends.

Hopefully, like a pp, there will be enough of an age gap between your dc and your dsd that your youngest won't notice. Plus, like a pp said, as dc get older their parties change, and more than likely your little one wouldn't be coming anyways (slumber parties, skating, bowling, going out to the movies, etc)

Though, with my dd, she often has more than 1 party. We normally do a "friends" party and also a family (dd, Dh, and myself) party, usually at home but can be at a restaurant. Which is basically an evening where dd can pick what/where to eat plus can get a dessert.
post #5 of 28
Last year, my SD's mom made her a party, and we attended. SD's mom's family all live out-of-state, so there wasn't that discomfort. Only the general "ooohhhh" from the other parents. (Which is why I am a big fan of the drop-off party, even at 5.) The following weekend, we had my parents over to celebrate both my and SD's birthdays (we're a couple of weeks...and 27 years...apart). SD's mom didn't come to that one, as it wasn't really a party and would have been very uncomfortable.

This year, we may do the same thing, but complicating matters is she's living with us full-time this summer, and doing weekends with her mom. She'll be going to day camp, and if she makes day-camp friends, we'll probably want to have a party here. (We can't do one big party because we live 75 miles apart and either one side or the other wouldn't attend.) If we did two parties, I'm not sure whether we'd attend Mom's party and she'd attend ours, or if that would come to an end. (We'd probably invite SD's mom, and she'd probably decline if my parents were going to be there, or if there would be too many strange moms. She's not big on parental chit-chat, either.)

Oh, and the way you get around the huge mountain of presents: Limit opening while the children are there to the presents children brought only. The ones from adults can be opened later--or perhaps as each adult leaves. We learned this the hard way last year, when SD opened the presents from her out-of-town grandma, godmother, etc. SD got greedy and grabby, and her friends got restless. If she'd opened her friends' presents only, it would have been about 5-10 minutes and it would have gone much better.
post #6 of 28
I never had to deal with joint parties. I know some families do them and they are civil and successful, but honestly I can't imagine it. I think DH said that his ex suggested one the first year they were separated, but he didn't want to. He felt like it was pretending that they were still one big happy family for that one day, then dad is out of the picture again. So they never started that tradition, and I can't say I'm not relieved. I can't imagine that DH would feel comfortable bringing me to hang out with his ex inlaws. And I certainly wouldn't feel relaxed about it. I assume they would be cordial to me, but AWKWARD!!

We've always had a small family party here for DSS and DH's immediate family. His mom does whatever she wants with her family.
post #7 of 28
I agree that if he goes, you go too.

In our case, we do 2 parties, and that works for us. I know all of us adults can make nice and smile at events, but why torment ourselves? Shouldn't the parents enjoy celebrating the child too? And with extra family and all it just seems crazy.

Plus, you'd have accidental (or on purpose?) turf wars as parents. I know we were all 3 with DSD for about 5 minutes transitioning one day and I managed to screw it up by telling DSD "no" to a lolly since we were on our way to dinner with her. I had no clue her mom had told her it was ok (I'm not quite dumb enough to knowingly contradict her while she's standing right there -- it was mostly an instinctual parenting response -- she pulls out a lolly right before dinner, you know?), and DSD threw a huge "I want my mommy" tantrum as a result. So I learned to shut my big mouth when their mom is around. How would we manage this at a party? I'd be afraid to mess up and it just sets up conflict and hurt feelings. Plus, why on earth should their mom have to see me when celebrating the birth of her daughter?

Your DSD has 2 families and she can have 2 parties. The only people who attend both parties in our case (other than the kids) are DH's parents, though I wish they'd stick to ours. But they're a whole other issue..
post #8 of 28
Up until this year, we have always had one party that we planned and paid for together. However, DSD wanted to have her party at our new house last year, and that apparently did not sit well with the ex. She ended up causing all kinds of drama with DH about everything. This year, we decided that we would do our own thing with her. We always have her on her b-day since it is during the extended visitation month. So, we are having an entire day dedicated to everything she wants to do. She is very, very excited for this. I believe her mother may host a party on her own for DSD and her friends once she is back at her house. We will not be invited to that since her mother will be planning and paying for everything. Plus, our relationship with the ex has deteriorated over the past year.
post #9 of 28
We have two parties. We have primary custody and have always had the one with the friends. His mom has cake for him and her parents come over. She's never asked to do anything differently. If she was interested in having the party with the friends, then maybe we'd alternate. I have gone to parties at her house, but she doesn't come here because of tension between her and dh and dh's parents. Other siblings just have to deal, really. It's just the way it is. I feel like divorced kids go through enough crap. They get two birthday parties.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
I agree that if he goes, you go too.

In our case, we do 2 parties, and that works for us. I know all of us adults can make nice and smile at events, but why torment ourselves? Shouldn't the parents enjoy celebrating the child too? And with extra family and all it just seems crazy.

Plus, you'd have accidental (or on purpose?) turf wars as parents. I know we were all 3 with DSD for about 5 minutes transitioning one day and I managed to screw it up by telling DSD "no" to a lolly since we were on our way to dinner with her. I had no clue her mom had told her it was ok (I'm not quite dumb enough to knowingly contradict her while she's standing right there -- it was mostly an instinctual parenting response -- she pulls out a lolly right before dinner, you know?), and DSD threw a huge "I want my mommy" tantrum as a result. So I learned to shut my big mouth when their mom is around. How would we manage this at a party? I'd be afraid to mess up and it just sets up conflict and hurt feelings. Plus, why on earth should their mom have to see me when celebrating the birth of her daughter?

Your DSD has 2 families and she can have 2 parties. The only people who attend both parties in our case (other than the kids) are DH's parents, though I wish they'd stick to ours. But they're a whole other issue..
We have this awkwardness where dss automatically asks my permission for everything, even when I'm at his moms house. Lucky for me she just laughs it off.
Example:
His mom: Dss , there is soda in the fridge.
Dss: J, can I have a soda?
(um, awkward exchanging of glances by mom and stepmom)
post #11 of 28
Last year we had a joint party for dsd's class, which her mom's parents also attended. We had our own parties for family. This year dsd's mom had a small party at her house for one or two friends from school and some other friends from her grandma's house. We had our own celebration(s) with various family members, but no big party.
I have wondered about the issue of having younger dc's too-my dd will not be getting two (or more) sets of bday presents, christmas presents, etc. I think your feelings are valid in worrying about how your ds will see it in the future-I think I will be explaining at an age appropriate level that dsd's mommy and daddy live in different houses and that is why she does things differently. Difficult to explain without making one seem better or worse though, no? Good luck on what you decide! If it will make your dsd happy, I would probably go to mom's party, at least for the cake cutting, and then make your excuses.
post #12 of 28
OP - are both parties 'family' parties or is one a children's party? I think it's too much for a kid to have two children's parties. But in my family you had your 'birthday dinner' with family and the party you invited your friends to was usually completely separate.

So, I don't think it's unusual to invite your families over for a separate dinner. As for whether or not you should also go to the party at her mom's house, I think you should discuss that with your SD and see how she feels about it. If it would upset her a lot for you to miss it, then I think you have to suck it up and go. Sorry. I hate it too.
post #13 of 28
For us it depends on the year
On good years we combine parties , on bad years we have separate parties ..
If certain family members of ours or hers have issues, we will tell them they need to get over it ,
it's not about US or THEM it's about the KIDS !!!!!

As far as going to the party, if she has invited you and you've talked to your SD and if your SD would like you to be there , then go , have fun !!!!
You are there for your SD not your SD's mom or anyone else !!

I try to remember the saying, !!! though I forget it so often !!
"the only person that can really make you feel uncomfortable is yourself "
post #14 of 28
When we were sharing 50/50, we each had our own parties. She had two separate sets of friends at the two different houses, so she got two parties... One the weekend before her birthday and one the weekend after. The day of her birthday was split between the two houses, so on the day of she had birthday brunch with one and birthday dinner with the other.

I suppose it would be different now that she is in school... if we still lived close by I can imagine alternating years for who hosted the party for school friends, or doing a school party someplace "neutral" with parents alternating years for who plans and purchases everything... then each of us having a smaller family thing on our own time.

FWIW, our biological kids often get two holidays or two parties as well because of the situation... we celebrate their actual birthday and also their half birthday, which falls over the summer while their big sister is here. Every other year they will get Christmas twice, too... we don't want to give them the impression that all the fun stuff only can happen when their sister is here, but they want to include her (at least the 3yo does at this point) so we often do things twice... she wasn't with us for Easter this year and her little brother requested that we do another Easter egg hunt when she is here so they can do it together... so a bunch of our family is getting together this summer for a sort of "Easter in July" at little brother's request. As a parent I think you can feel out your children and address any concerns about "fairness" as they arise... often the things we think of are not the things that bother them, and sometimes when we go out of our way to "be fair" they don't see it as such... We just try to stay aware of our children's feelings and what they are trying to tell us (with or without words) and find ways to make sure everyone's needs are met, whatever those might turn out to be.

That was way more than the answer to your actual question, so I hope there was something helpful in the rest of my rambling!

PS You could NOT EVER get me to go to "mom's party" unless it had been clearly discussed and executed as a joint effort ahead of time... like Violet said, it just sets everyone up for discomfort, hurt feelings, failure, feeling judged, awkward moments, etc etc etc.
post #15 of 28
We have always done separate parties. The kids get two parties - one with us and one with their dad.
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Wow! Lots of really great advice and insight here! Thank you everyone!


Last year and this year Mom didn't ask us what we wanted to do or even asked if we wanted to attempt a combined party... she didn't offer it until after DP said we were having our own party for her because Mom only invited DP's parents to the party... we wanted my parents to be able to go too, as they have a very special relationship with DSD already... in fact it is quite obvious to everyone that my Mom seems to one of her favorite grandparents.

Even after that Mom never invited my parents, even though she has told me many times how much DSD talks about my Mom and loves her. *shrugs*

This year is the first year that friends from school were invited too at Mom's party.


I will likely be inviting some of DSD's new cousins to the party we are throwing her as they have been to several family gatherings over the last couple months and play very nicely together and have become fast friends. So I suppose you could say both parties are friend/family.


I know it's all about the kids... but I'm seriously worked up over the thought of possibly having to attend the party Mom is throwing. She has been extra prickly towards me ever since she found out DP and I are moving to a house. I honestly don't need the added stress with the pregnancy... Take that as you will, but there it is. I don't love DSD any less, and we are throwing her our own party five days later... so I don't think it should be that big of a deal. She will likely love having two parties... what kid wouldn't?
post #17 of 28
I don't have an opinion on the two parties or even whether you should attend. Although if your dsd wants you to come to the one at your mom's then I would be inclined to go.

I did want to respond to the idea that it's not fair that your dsd will get two parties and your kid will only get one. My take is that whatever advantages a kid of divorced parents gets (2 sets of xmas presents, 2 parties, extra pple to love her, etc) should be milked for all they're worth. We do that with our daughter. Your child will be getting the advantage of growing up in one home with one set of parents and not having, presumably/hopefully, to watch her parents go through a painful break-up. As your stepdaughter gets older, I'm sure she'll think that's "not fair" Your child will get her dad every day not just according to a custody schedule. There's lots of pluses for your kid; I really would not start now to begrudge your stepdaughter the few advantages she actually gets from the situation or worry about everything being "fair" or equal. It's an inherently unequal situation - the only consistent thing is the love that each child can expect to receive from the people in their lives.
post #18 of 28
Last year we did a combined party for both of my stepsons with their mom. It worked really well. This year she's taking them camping for their birthday, so we're thinking about just throwing a party here for them and their friends.
post #19 of 28
Well, I think my opinion is not popular around here...but I think that the grownups in the family should do what is best for the child- and usually that is getting along and attending events all together. I was a child of a crazy divorce and feuding step/blended families...and that's a lot of pressure to put on a kid. I know my particular blended family situation is rare (with my daughter, my husband, dd's father and his girlfriend) because we all work our asses off to get along and present a united front...but we do it because our kid is more important than anything else. I don't want to get all preachy...I realize different people's situation are different...but it is one day...and it would probably mean a lot to your stepchild.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by bronxmom View Post
I did want to respond to the idea that it's not fair that your dsd will get two parties and your kid will only get one. My take is that whatever advantages a kid of divorced parents gets (2 sets of xmas presents, 2 parties, extra pple to love her, etc) should be milked for all they're worth. We do that with our daughter. Your child will be getting the advantage of growing up in one home with one set of parents and not having, presumably/hopefully, to watch her parents go through a painful break-up. As your stepdaughter gets older, I'm sure she'll think that's "not fair" Your child will get her dad every day not just according to a custody schedule. There's lots of pluses for your kid; I really would not start now to begrudge your stepdaughter the few advantages she actually gets from the situation or worry about everything being "fair" or equal. It's an inherently unequal situation - the only consistent thing is the love that each child can expect to receive from the people in their lives.
Yes!!!!!!
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