Divorce is an arduous event than can complicate and taint every aspect of life for the parties involved forever. It can reach through generations to cause trouble; case in point. Redditor Partythrowaway6 is feeling the lasting effects of divorce. She reached out for advice... here's the sitch...
Ok, so backstory. My parents divorced when I was 7. They didn't really speak after that but since my brothers and I are now grown they will say hello to each other and small talk about their grandchildren if we are at family events. After the divorce my dad went MIA for a while and due to this my brothers and I have a lot of unresolved issues that no one ever brings up. We all still spend time with him and take our kids over to spend time (but our kids are not that comfortable around them) Also, my dad remarried when I was maybe 13? And my mom is technically single but has a "friend" that my brothers and I see as more of a father figure (we call him first for money problems, car problems, advice, etc.)
So that's a little backstory, if there are any other family dynamics I'm missing please ask.
Now to my problem. I had a son last year who will be one in June. My husband and I currently live with my mom as we are saving to buy a house and hope to be out by the end of the year. Since my son will only be turning 1, we didn't want to do anything big and thought we would just have a small party at the house. It's free, there will be a/c and my son is comfortable there of course.
So I told my dad the plans and he immediately told me "When your parents are divorced and they each have significant others it is proper etiquette to have events at a neutral location." A part of me knew this would happen as he did the same to my brother a few years back and they ended up having his son's party at Chuck E. Cheese. I don't know if I should give in though.
When I told him it would cost to have it anywhere else he said that's what grandparents are for. So to appease him I looked for other places and saw that I only had two options. I could rent a room in a venue or a pavilion in a park. The problem with that is we planned to have some water activities for the kids in the backyard and people could go inside to the a/c if they wanted. With these options I can only have one or the other. I refuse to have a party at a place like Chuck E. Cheese or any other kid places because my son is one, he will not remember, and it will cost too much.
What's weird to me about this is my dad has been in my mom's house before and his wife has been there by herself before. So I'm not really seeing the issue. Also, it makes me angry that even if there was a problem that he can't put it aside for a few hours for his grandchild. He can sit on the screened in porch and not even have to come in the house if he doesn't want to.
I should note that no one but him has a problem with him coming. I'm very tempted to say whatever he just won't come and have the party the way I want.
Reddit, please help me. Am I being crazy? Unreasonable? Should I change the location? Are there any other locations I should consider? I really need an outside opinion.
Man up Man!Giphy
See, I hate this crap. I am my husband's second wife, he has two kids from his first marriage, and we always try to make it work, for the kids' sake. His first wife and I send texts back and forth on Mother's Day (I always wish her a happy mother's day) and when his daughter was having a few issues we got the whole family together to help her: me, my husband, Mom, her husband. His first wife has been there for me when my father (and later, my step-father) died, and I am there for her if she, her husband or the kids need anything. I would be very comfortable and welcome at a birthday party at their house. We get along, and we get along well, because it makes it easier and better for the kids.
Tell your Dad that this Step-Mom says to grow up.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this! It's so important, and as a child of divorced parents, I appreciate this so much.
I love people like you so much. You're doing a good job.
You're doing it right girl!
I just want to say that I love hearing about this dynamic. My parents tried for something similar but my bio dad would decide he wanted nothing to do with my mom, then would turn her into the bad guy when she wouldn't let me visit. As I got older (around 3rd-4th grade) my mother became abusive, and it got worse as years went on. This particular issue had nothing to do with her, however. She had full custody and wouldn't let me leave the state if he refused to answer her calls or speak to her because she wanted to know I was safe. He turned it around to make it seem like she didn't want us to have a relationship. Even now, nearing 30, I wish I had a childhood like the one you are providing for your children. Thank you for being an awesome human and raising kids in an environment where they feel loved.
Do you boo!
Have it at your mom's house like you planned. It's your son's day, not your dad's, so do what's best to give your son the party you want him to have. You can't get into the habit of letting your dad dictate your choices regarding your children.
"Hey, dad. I've thought it over and there really isn't another venue that's suitable for what I have planned, so the party will be at Mom's house. I hope you can make it so we can all celebrate Son's birthday together."
If he declines, that's his loss. Your son won't remember whether he was there or not anyway.
The truth can sting...Giphy
Tell him when parents divorce it's proper etiquette to not go MIA and he's a guest to this, not the person in charge of planning. If he doesn't like it he can not go. Which fits, because not showing up is something he's got a lot of practice in.
Got any ideas pops?
You want a low-key party for a one year-old. Paying for a venue makes it something else.
Tell him the party plans are what they are. If he wants to celebrate with the kid at another place, he can make arrangements for a different day and you will gladly be there.
Children of Divorce
I'm sorry, as a child of divorced parents who both got remarried, he's simply being petty. Both of my parents have celebrated different events in the living spaces of each other, not to mention it's been years since the divorce. Have the party where you want to have it, and make sure it's the most comfortable place for your son. Tell your father your reasoning, and if he doesn't accept that, tell him that your child's comfort comes before his.
Listen to Nana...
"When your parents are divorced and they each have significant others it is proper etiquette to have events at a neutral location."
Grandparent here. We have a fair mix of steps and halfs between grandparents and kids. IMHO it's fine to have it at one grand-parents house provided all grandparents get invited (as you did).
You're not alone...
You're not crazy or unreasonable.
Similar story, I'm the same age as you and my parents divorced when I was about 3. My dad made a stink about going for a meal after my graduation from medical school next month because my mother would be there. He said I should just accept that events like that and my wedding (!?) would be awkward because of their divorce. Like you I was pretty hurt that he couldn't put his own feelings aside for a few hours.
I finally told him to get f**ked, and guess what, he's going to come along for the dinner without complaining. Don't let your parents divorce nearly TWENTY YEARS AGO make your life harder. If he's not over it, especially given he's remarried, forget him, it's his problem.
Just have your kid's party. Don't get sucked into this. Live your life and your selfish dad can get with the program or not. WHY would you turn your life inside out for someone who wouldn't do the same for you?
Don't be a baby dad...
Birthday parties for 1 year olds are really parties for the parents and friends. The 1 year old won't remember. Tell your dad that he is welcome to come or not come but the party will be at your home... period...
Show me your receipts...
"Dad, if you want me to have a party at a neutral location then you're going to pay for it."
Sounds like your dad is a bigger baby than your baby.
You're having the party where you and your child live. At that age it is so much easier than going somewhere "neutral." What if he needs a rest in the middle of the party? Or a change of clothes? Or a second change of clothes? Or whatever!
Personally I would tell your dad that you won't be changing the venue due to what's best for kiddo, as well as costs, and you hope that he won't be so uncomfortable that he misses this big moment in his grandson's life. "As you have been here before, I didn't think you'd have an issue with the location, but if it is too much for you to overcome, you will be missed. If you can come just for a little bit for pictures and cake it would mean a lot to us." (I have no problem using guilt when people are being selfish and unreasonable).
I've dealt with similar divorced parent issues with both my parents and my in-laws. This is what I respond with, every time:
"The party is at X time on Y date and Z place. Everyone is invited, including you (and your wife). If you decide not to attend, you'll be missed."
And that's it. Everyone's invited and if someone can't suck it up and be an adult for two hours for their grandchild's party, they can make the decision to attend or not but I'm not playing games with multiple events or not inviting someone or changing our plans.
Worth noting also that every single time, without fail, they have all sucked it up, acted like grown ups and come to the party. I have the only grandkids on my side but my SIL has excluded one parent or done multiple parties for years before DH and I got married and I refused to play.
You're already home...
I would be more on the side of your dad if you didn't live with your mom. It's completely reasonable to have a party for a 1-year-old where you live.
Something else to think about, if you want to put your child down for a nap, it'll probably be easier in his own sleeping space than at a pavilion or a park.
I wouldn't change the venue. My wife's parents divorced when she was young, and they still get together wherever we decide to have a party. If you give in, it's going to become very tedious over the rest of your son's life to always think about how your father will react.
A few ideas...
Its also proper etiquette not to be a douche to your children but that doesn't seem to be stopping him. I'm sorry, I'm sure he has redeeming qualities, but avoiding drama doesn't appear to be one of them. Giving in to this silly demand to follow a completely made up rule of etiquette will do two things;
1.) Set a lovely precedent whereby any time he doesn't like something he will; a.) demand you change it to accommodate what he wants because he knows you will. b.) throw money at it to solve the issue which will result in; c.) him lording that over you if he needs something from you in the future.
2.) Create a gigantic drama where everyone will be angry and resentful at everyone else because who wouldn't get annoyed that previously made plans for something that is very special are now being changed to accommodate one person's made up problem.
Tell your dad that the plans are the plans and you hope he'll come but if he doesn't want to he'll be missed. This is that proverbial "hill to die on." You don't need to be dramatic about it. You can tell him you heard his concerns, looked into it and you'll be sticking with your original plan. Keep it simple and keep it lighthearted and then you do you.
He'll either grow up or he won't. And a very happy birthday to your little one!
Have you mentioned this problem to your dad? What did he say?
I am a very no bs person. Your dad has the problem, so in my mind it is his problem to fix. You already did a lot of research already and those items provided more problems. If it is more of a cost problem then he should pay the difference. If it is a son remembering problem he will not remember if it is inside, outside or a Chuck Cheese. I see this as a more financial problem than anything and if your dad is willing to fund the move and the extra cost. The problem should be solved.
Stick with your planned party. If he doesn't like it he's free to invite you to dinner to celebrate.
Your dad is missing two things here. 1. This is your life and family and he needs to support you. 2. You live with your mom. He should be grateful that she's such a stable force in his daughters life because he hasn't always been.