Ex-etiquette: With many bonusparents, why not have everyone at one house?
Question: This past Mother's Day, I was faced with a dilemma. My parents are divorced and my father has been remarried for 20 years. I love his wife; she is like a second mom to me. Plus, my wife and I had our first child three months ago. My wife's mother lives nearby, and my wife has a bonusmom.
If you do the math, that's five “yours, mine and ours” moms. My wife wants to see her “moms.” I want to see mine — and my wife is a mom for the first time. I didn't mention that my grandma lives five miles away.
Next year, how do I juggle all this using good ex-etiquette?
Answer: Good ex-etiquette begins by putting the children first — and it appears your “moms” have if you hold all of them in such high regard. Your dilemma is a perfect reason to start a dialog.
Use the birth of your child as the catalyst and explain to all the players that now that you have a child and your wife is a mother as well, you would like to start a new tradition. (Now, you have to decide what the new tradition is.)
Here are two suggestions for handling holidays with baby: It's not uncommon for people in your situation to treat a holiday as a weekend celebration, splitting their visits with loved ones between the true holiday and the day before or after.
For example, some people who have large, extended families split their Thanksgiving celebration between Thanksgiving Day and the following Friday. We have so many people to include around the holidays, I host Thanksgiving on the Saturday following the holiday! Try the same for Mother's Day — using the Saturday prior as well.
Use a typical holiday parenting plan schedule as your model. Figure out who you will see on the Saturday prior and who you will see on Mother's Day. Then, switch the next year. Granted, this is complicated, but it does serve its purpose for families who have clearly delineated lines between the divorced parents' homes.
The second suggestion for the new tradition is to host the celebration at your house. To cut costs, consider a potluck. Invite all the parents in question, explain that there are just too many places to go, and in the name of all the children involved (including you) please consider celebrating in one place. If you are locked in Stepwars, don't try it.
Finally, it's a fine line children walk when they are close to their mom and bonusmom. Many have told me that they don't want to disrespect their mother, but they also want to acknowledge their bonusmom — and they aren't sure how to do it without hurting either “Mom.” That's a tough one if the “moms” are in competition with one another.
Ex-Etiquette rule No. 4 is “Bioparents make the rules, bonusparents uphold them.” This is another way of saying that biomom is Mom, and will always be Mom, however, if all the parents have things in the proper perspective, they both understand that it's not “either/or,” but “also” — always in the best interest of the children.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Trade for Winnik gives Penguins’ competition among bottom six
- Latrobe woman charged with open lewdness
- Snyder seeks re-election as Fayette County Clerk of Courts
- Rossi: Pirates better with Maz on scene
- Easter Seals merger in Pennsylvania raises ethics concerns
- Rue21 plays to tough teen crowd with new store in Cranberry
- Cafe Con Leche helps Pittsburgh’s Latino community meet wider audience
- Officials plan software upgrade to Westmoreland County emergency dispatching system
- Few in Westmoreland County opposed to expansion plan for Mariner pipeline
- Roundup: U.S. Steel to idle Gary Works coke plant, displacing 300; Drager plans to close local operation and lay off 150; more
- Lincoln tries to rejuvenate career in second stint with Pirates