My son spends both my birthday and my ex’s birthday with me. He is young enough to have limited ability or interest to keep track of any more than his birthday, Christmas, and whether or not it is Friday so he does not have to go to school the next day.
I felt badly waking up on my birthday this year and casually telling my son what day it was. He felt badly he did not know and gave me a big hug.
We do not have family in town to remind him to make me a card (no glitter please…I hate that stuff) or wake me up to a cheery rendition of “Happy Birthday” at the crack of dawn. And I am OK with that, although I am sure there is a better way.
But what to do with my ex’s birthday? Despite the physical and emotional distance between the two of us, making sure my son knows about her birthday and making sure he sends a card and speaks with her must be a priority.
I have no interest in spending money on my ex, but the cost of a card or supplies to make a card (including glitter if he wants to send her some) is worth every penny. Me reminding him about mom’s birthday allows him to connect with her and not feel tension he may experience at other times. It helps maintain an emotional connection and allows for positive interaction between the two of them.
So, here is what I recommend:
- Set a calendar reminder about one week before your ex’s birthday. That gives you enough time to go with your kid to pick out a card or gather the supplies to make one for her.
- Do not dictate the message. Let the card be 100 percent from your kid – mom’s know what words are theirs and which ones are yours.
- Make sure your kid calls or FaceTimes mom on her birthday. Let him know you recognize it is an important day – just like his and yours.
You will see benfits to doing this:
- You will gain trust with your kid. He understands something painful happened between you and mom, and knows you actively engage him with significant events in mom’s life.
- You may see improved co-parenting because this fosters trust and appreciation with your ex. Can’t hurt…might help.
- You may encourage reciprocal actions on the part of your ex.
We all need to heal from our divorces. Holding on to anger and disappointment does not allow for healing. Channeling our anger through our kids harms everyone, so find a way to have them acknowledge and celebrate important events in your ex’s life.
How do you celebrate your birthday with your kids?