Planning an event for the kids such as communion, bar or bat mitzvah, or even a birthday party, can turn a happy event into a nerve wrecking one. Here are some practical tips for those divorced parents who are planning a joint event for their child, and are looking to spare themselves much unneeded agony:
Do not leave planning for the last minute. Discuss your plans ahead of time. If you are having a hard time communicating, use emails. Do not leave things for the last minute and make sure that you are both aware of all the options, and what the financial and practical meaning of each option may be.
As frustrated as you may sometimes feel, keep your communications respectful, and to the point. One sentence, not to say one word, can throw the whole process off and set a huge fire. Think before you say something, If the other parent is not maintaining respectful communications, do not get sucked into it. Remember: your goal is for your child to have a great event, and that is where your focus should be. Negative communications will not help you in achieving that goal, to the contrary, they may sabotage it.
Remain goal oriented:
Set your goals clearly. What are you looking to accomplish for your child? You should not use this event to showcase anything to the other parent, and not to teach them any lessons. You are not the center of attention, your child is. Your goals should therefore be centered around your child. Keep reminding yourself of what your goals are in planning this event, and check with yourself if you feel that you are not remaining focused around the goals that you have initially defined to yourself.
Stick to an agreed upon budget:
There is nothing more dangerous to productive co-parenting than a poorly planned budget. Plan for the financial aspect of the event carefully. Remember -- you are splitting with the other parent only what you have both agreed to. There is nothing in the law that would force a parent to agree to these kind of flowers versus the other kind of flowers. If you, or the other parent, would like to go above the agreed upon budget and cover the difference, that is fine, but you are only splitting the agreed upon budget only.
Decide what to do together, and what to do apart:
Not everything must be done together. Check your options carefully. If you can celebrate certain parts of the event separately and it makes things easier for both of you and for the kids, clarify that with each other and explain to your kids that it is ok to celebrate together or separately, depending on what can and cannot be done and on everyone's comfort level, parents and kids as well as extended family members.
Keep the kids out of the details:
It is really none of the kids' business who planned what, who paid for what, and who refused to pay. All they need to know is that both of your parents are there with them and for them. The rest is adult's business and should stay as such.
See things in proportion:
It's just an event. It doesn't represent anything, it does not carry any hidden meaning and it doesn't define you in any way. It is a happy day that you need to plan for. Plan carefully and enjoy!
Look forward, not backwards:
Nothing that happened in the past should be incorporated into the dynamics of planning. If your ex is engaging is past talk -- shift it to present and future talk. What happened in the past, should stay in the past. Once you engage in past talk, it will become very hard for both of you to decide on pretty much anything.
Discuss the presence of significant others:
The presence of significant others cannot be prevented unless you both agree ahead of
time not to be bringing significant others to your child's event. Having said that, nobody
should be taken by surprise here, including the kids. The presence of significant others
should be discussed ahead of time and you should both be aware of who is coming.
Most importantly, remember to have fun!
Enjoy, laugh and have fun genuinely. To yourself and for yourself. You have a child and today you are celebrating. Don't mind glitches, don't pay attention to any attempts to upset or hurt you if there are any. This is your happy day. Enjoy!
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