Ex-etiquette: Both parents should attend child's extra-curricular activities
Q uestion: I would appreciate your guidance on whether I need to advise my ex of our children's extra-curricular activities if they are done on my day.
I would like us to both attend their events, but when there is high conflict and tension between the parents, I believe it might not be in the best interests of the children if we are at the kids' events together. Would it be better to both go and sit on the opposite ends of the field or not go at all? What's good ex-etiquette?
Answer: I'm sure you don't realize how often you ask your son to choose between you and his other parent, but it sounds as though it's quite often. That's breaking the cardinal rule of good ex-etiquette: Put the child first.
Ideally, you should both go to your child's extra-curricular activities, and it doesn't matter whose “day” it is. I have told this story many times, because I witnessed it firsthand. It's a perfect example of how parents put their children in the middle, some without even knowing it.
Joey was 6 years old and in Little League. His parents fought all the time, sometimes even at his Little League games. At this particular game, Mom was on one side of the field, Dad was on the other. Joey hit a home run and was the star of the game. At the end of the game, I watched as this little 6-year-old tried to decide which parent to go to first. He looked at Mom. Then, he looked at Dad. Then, he looked at Mom. You could see the wheels turning. He decided to go to Mom, who hugged him and patted him on the back. Then, he ran to Dad, and the first thing he said to his son was, “Why did you run to her first? She doesn't care about baseball!”
So, my answer to you is this: Good ex-etiquette is for both of you to keep your anger in check and support your children at their extra-curricular activities. Granted, it's not in the children's best interest to be around when their parents fight and argue, but you are going to their activities. If you can't sit next to each other, at least sit in the same vicinity so your child doesn't have to openly choose between you.
Finally, to be honest, I don't like either of the choices you gave me — both go and sit on the opposite ends of the field or not go at all. I've already given you an example of what happens when angry parents sit on opposite sides of the field and expect a child to choose. If you don't go at all, I suppose you could tell your child, “I didn't see you hit that home run because I can't get along with your father (or mother).” I can guarantee that your child won't understand what that has to do with you not going to his Little League game. Quite frankly, I don't get it either.
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.
- Steelers wrap lackluster preseason with loss to Panthers
- Young adults drive home rental trend in Western Pennsylvania
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- Penguins confident Pouliot will be healthy, ready for camp
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Pitt senior Weatherspoon’s work ethic second to none
- Government approves compromise on Corbett’s alternative Medicaid plan
- August Wilson Center’s financial woes leave little guys in a lurch
- Greater Latrobe-Laurel Valley Community Chamber of Commerce to honor Arnie’s pal ‘Doc’
- WPIAL teams value hard-to-come-by nonconference games in Week 1
- Pirates starting pitcher Cole growing in his 1st full major-league season