How Do You Do Kids Birthdays, Events, School Pics, When Your Divorced?

Updated on April 30, 2010
S.G. asks from Midland, MI
11 answers

So my hubby and I are getting divorced. We have 2 kids and 1 on the way. He is being a real jerk, never visits and only calls a few times a week. He does live 6 hrs away from us but still a phone call would be nice! He is doing other things to but I dont want to get into all that!

Im wondering how other single parents do birthdays and other important events with their kids. Our girls birthdays are coming up so when I give them a party do I have to invite his family, or should I ask him if he wants to contribute money and then invite his fam if he does or just let him worry about having his own bday party for them? I dont want to punish my kids because of how he is acting but I also dont think it fair for me to foot the bill and him to enjoy being the proud dad that doesnt help! Also after our son is born he will be getting baptized. My husband isnt religious and isnt going to care but his family is religious. If he doesnt want to help pay for a party for him should I still invite his family? And how do you handle pics of the kids? Professional pics are very expensive and I cant afford to nor do I want to pay for a ton of pictures for him and his family? I was going to ask him if he wanted to buy any pics of the kids when I get them done in July but if he says no should I still send some to his grandmas? This is all very new to me and I want to do whats best for the kids! Thanks everyone!

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answers from Austin on

You don't have to invite him, especially if you think he will make you feel uncomfortable or act 'jerky'. However, I think the best gift you can give your children is to preserve the relationship they have with his side of the family. It only costs being gracious for you to invite his relatives, especially the kid's grandparents... They may not even come if he is not there.... However, the fact that you and him are no longer in a relationship should not affect the fact that your children can still have a relationship with their relatives.

(I don't think professional pictures are necessary...)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

It seems like it might be a bit wrong to punish his family just because he's being a jerk. Its important to maintain your childrens' relationship with the paternal side of the family. The people that were important to them in their lives before will be just as important to them after the divorce. I know it sucks that you have to play fair when HE isn't, but just consider it one of those selfless acts a mom does because she loves her children. That might help you feel at least a little better about it.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I got divorced when my son was 4. Now he is 10. his father has remarried and sees him roughly every other weekend. I am about to get remarried and my fiance, son and I all live about 20 minutes away from his dad.

When I got divorced, we used a mediator to set up all the arrangements for our son, as far as visitation.,etc. The one piece of advice she gave that has always stayed with me is this:

Your marriage has failed. But that does not mean you have to be failures as PARENTS.

Set up a firm schedule for weekends, holidays, etc. ahead of time. It will be a LIFESAVER later on. It may not work perfectly, but if you have a system everyone has to follow, then it makes it much easier.

As far as school events, etc. we have the rule that everyone MUST be polite. We are not always all perfectly happy with one another, but we are accustomed to the system now, and can smile and be gracious at school events, soccer games, etc.

It's hard though- like many divorced dads, my ex started out being very gung-ho and coming to everything. But gradually it sort of faded out and now he is much less involved in my son's day to day stuff. This year was the first he didn't attend ANY parent/teacher conferences at all. he asks to see report cards, etc. but that was it.

When my son was younger, I made sure to inform his dad of ALL school events, made sure conferences were scheduled so he could come, etc. But you know what? He is a grown man with a wife of his own. He owns a computer and a phone and has access to all the info about the school that I do.

I just finally had to make a decision to stop facilitating him and NOT to be his personal secretary where our son was concerned. That may sound mean, but it made my life much much simpler and I just really felt like I was ready to stop 'covering' for him all the time.

I never trash talk about him in front of our son- another rule we have both stuck to pretty well. But - as our son gets older and his step father picks up the ball more and more when his dad bails out, he sees for himself how things are- no need to rub it in. But I am not going to be his dad's 'enabler' any more either.

For birthday parties- again, we started out saying we would each do the party every other year. All relatives from BOTH sides of the family would be invited, provided everyone was polite (they all are).

This lasted for about 2 years. After that, when it was my ex's turn, he completely didn't do anything and I was scrambling at the last minute to just take my son and some friends bowling and get a cake, etc.

Ever since then he has never helped with a party, or come to one. he says they go to his mom's condo for a 'family' party and that seems to be all he wants to do. So my fiance and I or my mom and I do the party every year now. Again, we didn't plan it this way, but that's how it worked out.

I actually have a better relationship with my former MIL and SIL now than when I was married. After the divorce I made a serious effort to keep my son involved in their lives because I knew they love him. They really appreciated this -especially since my ex really didn't do anything at all about it.

My former MIL is actually coming to my new wedding next month, lol! She really likes my finace a lot and gets along with my parents and really wants to see her grandson in a tux! So I said 'Why not?' we're still family- just different!

So if you have a decent relationship with your MIL or other relatives of your ex- try and keep it that way! Be pleasant and unless you have a specific reason for bad feelings, send those school pictures and make it clear that you know they still love your kids and you want them to still be involved! It will be the best thing for your kids and you may find that they will be good allies in the days to come when you need help.

Many dads start out really almost over-doing it. my fiance calls it 'putting on the Dad Show' when my ex shows up at some event like the Science Fair and glad-hands everyone when he hasn't actually been involved at all in the project or whatever.

Yes, it is MADDENING to see him going around taking credit etc. - but sigh, in the end, we just grit our teeth. It makes my son feel good when his dad shows up for stuff. And the teachers, other parents who we see all the time, etc. all actually know who has been putting in the hours, lol! But I agree- it is really frustrating. Just smile and do what is best for your kids.

But gradually, especially if your ex remarries, his focus changes and he has less time, money and energy to spend. I don't want to be mean, but that does seem to be how it works.

I like my ex's new wife, but their relationship with my son is sort of like an aunt and uncle he sees a couple times a month and for a week in the summer. He loves them and I trust them to take good care of him, keep him safe, etc. But OUR house is HOME for our son and my fiance is taking on more and more of the 'dad' stuff every year. He loves my son and is happy to do it, so I am very lucky.

Honestly though, it sort of makes it easier for me. Lol, sometimes I wish my ex would just move far away and keep sending the child support checks! I know that sounds mean, but we do just fine with his limited input into our lives and my son seems to have adjusted to it, partly because of my fiance and already having other good male role models.

Hang in there- things will get easier!! This early stuff is hard and it will keep evolving- just remember, don't trash talk in front of the kids, focus on YOUR relationship with your kids and not on what used to be your relationship with your ex- and make sure you have ALL your custody and support arrangements legally written in stone!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

Sorry about your divorce. Overwhelming, isn't it? If I could, I'd send you a crystal ball for what we all want: to know what is best for our children.

In the beginning of a divorce, emotions are usually still high, especially, anger. So, imho, you're right to try to approach this rationally or less subjectively. But like everything in raising a family, you'll have to learn as you go whatever works best for you and your family. Being divorced, you'll probably get conflicting ideas from everyone (from family to people on internet sites :-) - my own advice would be to take what works, and discard the rest.

If the grandparents live physically closer to you than your (ex)husband does, and if you think they could be with you for a bd party without causing grief for the children, then it would be great for you to invite them. It may be awkward, but a little awkwardness is nothing compared to keeping your kids in touch with their grandparents. But only you know best........some grandparents, unfortunately, would use it as an excuse to try to control, or to make your life miserable, or whatever. If they can't put the children first, then I'm sure you're aware of that.

Have you considered putting pictures (even pics you take with a digital camera) online, so that whoever you like can see them and have prints made? (Even if you have them done professionally, don't they give you a link to the pics online that you could send to whoever you like?) Do you and your ex communicate via internet? Could the girls use a webcam or Skype to "see" their father?

Just one of the many difficulties with getting divorced is that most of us have to get used to a new, less expensive way of doing things. You could think of it as, "We're creating our own, new traditions."

You have so much going on! To me, the most important thing to your girls will be to *have fun* celebrating their bd, whoever is there with you on the Big Day. It doesn't need to be anything big, expensive, or formal - I bet they just want their mom to celebrate with them!

Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy, and with adapting to your new situation. And, happy birthday to your girls!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Always take the high road. Invite the inlaws.

For photos just let him know you will not be able to afford to purchase as many as you usually would order, but you will let him know the prices and the contact numbers so he can order them.. You could also be real honest with everyone that from now on, things will be tight financially and so you will not be able to purchase photos of the kids for everyone,. If they would like to order them, they can contact the photographer and order them.. This is what my sister no does and we all happily order our own copies of photos or give her money to put towards the photos.

BTW, my sister found some up and coming photographers off of Craigslist and has had beautiful photographs made using them. They take the photos and give her a disc. She then has them printed on her own.. I like them better than the studio photos she has had done in the past..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

sorry 2 hear what you are going threw i just want threw a divorce myself im not sure how old ur childern are but mine are 14&15 and me and my ex do are own thing with the kids like with our son he had a party for him with his side of the family.pic yes i will still send them 2 his side of the family,and i would never keep the kids from him are his family that aint fair 2 the not sure if you will get support but you might could use that for some of the stuff like pic.good luck wish you well:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi S.---I agree with the other moms. You have to rise above his childish behavior. Remember, what you do, your kids will be watching and learning. You want them to grow up to be loving, caring individuals.

It can't hurt to ask your soon-to-be ex to help with expenses, especially since his family will be there. If that doesn't work, maybe ask his parents to help. You don't have to let your relationship with your in-laws be a victim of your divorce. If you've been on good terms, please don't jeapordize that just because you and their son weren't able to make it work.

As far as pics, ask someone to be the 'official' photographer. I like the CD idea...Walgreens, etc, always seem to have specials on those. I always give school pics to grandparents as part of their Christmas gift. There are always ways to make things work. Keep your chin up, be positive and know that you will be ok. You have to be.

But don't be afraid to ask for some help. Try not to anticipate their response, but do be prepared with plan B if necessary. Another idea is to have everyone pay for their own meals if you have the b'day party at a restaurant. Be clear on that when invitiations are extended.

I wish you the best of luck. D.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Hi S.,
I have a similar situation. My husband has a daughter from a previous relationship and she has lived with us for 4 years now. She is graduating this year. I had been going through the whole "who do I invite to the open house" thing. A little bit if background... Her mother has not contributed 1 cent to us for anything. In fact, there is even a few times when my step-daughter went to her moms for the weekend and had money missing from her wallet when she came home. I had asked that her mom help pay for senior pictures (I only wanted her to pay the $50.00 sitting fee), and then I would keep her involved in all the activities of sr. year. Well when I went to order and pay for the pics, of course I had to also pay the sitting fee. This was a time span from Nov to April so she had plenty of time. I made up my mind right then and there that she will not be included in anything. Now getting to some of your points about inviting his relatives to functions. Here is my thought... with my situation, not any of her mothers family have contacted my SD since she has lived here with the exception of one aunt, and that has been very little. Why should I include them when they can't even take the time for a phone call or a card in the mail? I feel that if her mom wants to do something for her then she should. (She won't because she doesn't speak to her fam.) Long story short (too late), If his family is present in your kids lives then you should include them. If not, then let him do his own thing. for all the past years that my SD didn't live with us, we would always do our own parties and such. He is a big boy and I would let him make all his own decisions. It really is not your responsibility to worry about him at this point.
Sorry to be so lengthy but this is a subject that gets me fired up.
Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Rapids on

I dont' know the ages of your kids but i am a step-mom. My husband divorced the ex, when his son was only about 6 months old. (he was about 15 months when it was offficial though). I started dating my husband about the time his son turned 2, and i can say we have never done anything with her family ever. But for us, she has always done with her side, and us with our side. She also only lived about 8 minutes from us, and her entire family lives around here. So us even just going out and about the town we can end up running into people.

If his family is close to where you live, you might want to invite even just the grandparents, and tell the rest of his family they can arrange times with him to see the kids. For pics, you could give to just the grand parents as well. If others want them, you can tell them they need to help pay for prints. If you can get a CD of the pics, then you can just give them the CD to print what they want, and then give you back the CD. So then you are only paying for the pics you want from the studio. It really is up to you if you want to invite his family at all. If you chose to not invite his family, that is your choice. if you are uncomfortable around them, and never had a a good relationship then you don't need to go out of your way to see them at all. It's his family, and he can take the responsibility of his kids seeing his family.

You need to decide what you are comfortable with and do that. yes you don't want to isolate your kids from family, but it really is up to your ex to make sure the kids see his side of the family not yours.


answers from Phoenix on

Hi S., Sorry you are going thru this. We do everything completely separate, because...we are no longer together! No matter how old your kids are, they will always want their "parents" to be together. So its very important to do everything separately so they are always clear there is no chance that you will get back together. So, the kids get 2 of everything, birthdays, holidays, etc. When it's school pic time, the school photographer usually has a code and the dad can go online and pay/order his own pictures. If not, just send him the info so he can order them himself. That's what we do. I hope this helps and good luck!



answers from Detroit on

Be honest and kind to your X's family. Do not say anything against him. just politely agree when they do. My friend had a x who had multiple affairs and lies to her and his family. His parents didn't believe her but of course time does show all things so, once he started lying to them all the time well you can guess... my friend has been open with her x's parents and they spend holidays with her not their son! They have also contributed to her sons health care and Money for College . So again be polite and hones DO not say anything bad about your x just agree when they do. Your kids will thank you later. ou do not have to bend over backwards either.

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