In life's big events, how do you deal with divorced parents?
By Latchkey Man for BounceBack.com
Divorce can make otherwise easy things seem complex, and it can make complex things seem damn near impossible. So when it comes to planning events, figuring out who gets to come to what can be overwhelming. I've been relatively lucky in this regard, as most of the big events in my life occurred before my parents' divorce. I was born, circumcised, graduated from high school and college, had my wisdom teeth removed, and got married. Life was a lot easier not having to worry about how to dole out the attendance to those events.
So here are four key tips for how I've dealt with these situations:
1. Invite Everyone.
I hope that soon enough my parents will both be able to attend events together. One thing that I don't want to ever do is make a choice between one or the other. That's' why when it's an event that I am planning, I invite both of my parents. If they aren't comfortable yet, then it has to be their responsibility to figure out who should come and who should stay away. If they try and flip the onus back on to you, stay strong. Parents can be manipulative and asking "do you really want mom/dad to be there" is a subtle way of manipulating.
2. Make a Plan and Stick to it.
One of the really annoying aspects of having divorced parents is that you now have to devote twice the amount of time and effort into small-scale visits. So figure out what works, plan things in advance, and then follow through. It can be quite stressful to fly by the seat of your pants and let your aprents dictate when together time should occur. When I talk to my mom, she can be quite pushy in scheduling events. Our conversations typically go something like this:
Mom: Hi honey.
Me: Hi mom.
Mom: How are you?
Mom: I had dinner with your sister last week.
Me: (not listening and watching TV) Oh. Great.
Mom: Great? Really? You want to do something? How about tomorrow? I can come over around 1? If that doesn't work, how about 1:30? I can stay for dinner.
Me: What? Wait. What? Wait. No.
So in response, I now know that it's best to contact my mom with a specific plan some time in the future, at a time of my choosing, and with specific start and end times. She likes having things on the calendar, and this way I get to dictate the specifics. It's so much easier this way.
3. Tell them to get over it.
In my case, my parents spent over 30 years together. I know it's not ideal for them to be together anymore, but there will be events that are more important than their petty differences. So at the next big event in my life (an Oscar, Nobel prize, Being named to People's 50 Most Beautiful People), I'm not going to let them spoil it by arguing over who gets to be there. At some point, they'll just have to suck it up and deal. I'm that important.
4. Relax. It's never as bad as it is in your head when you're imagining how bad it's going to be. So save the energy and try not to worry about it.
Latchkey Man is a freelance writer who uses an anonymous name to mask his emotional insecurities. You can contact him at email@example.com because he's not original enough to create an anonymous moniker with an available Gmail account.
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