Question for divorced parents

(Inspired by an email I received)

Let’s say you are divorced with young children – ages 9 and 12. If you are the custodial parent, or it is your week with your kids,  and the other parent is having a birthday, is it fair to expect you to remind the children that it is their other parent’s birthday? How about going so far as to give them money to buy a card, and going with them to do so? Would you remind them to call their other parent to wish them happiness on this special day?

Let’s flip this – if you were the other parent, and your young children neglected to contact you in any way, shape or form on your birthday, would you be hurt? Who would you blame?

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  1. HSaboMilner says:

    In the interest of fairness I will answer first – I always remind my kids that their dad’s birthday is coming up. When they were younger I bought them a card to give to him, and made sure they all signed it. Now my oldest takes care of that. My ex has done the same for me, especially when they were younger.

  2. Kim says:

    As contentious as my divorce was, I will not let my kids (12 and 8), forget their father’s birthday. Yes, I remind them to call him, and yes, I have given them money for a card, and the ex has done the same for me.

    I don’t consider it “being nice”, I consider it being a decent human being.

  3. I agree with the first comments. Been there, done that. We have to educate our children how to be respectful, considerate children. We also need to educate them how to cope with less than ideal realities, and remain civil. Encouraging them to remember their other parent sets the right example.

    As for the last bit, ‘would I be hurt’? Of course. I’m a human being. I love and miss my children. It isn’t a matter of blame. It is a matter of the empty place that only one’s children can fill. No matter what.

  4. frumgoth says:

    My birthday was this past Friday, and my daughter was with my ex for Shabbos (my son lives with him, so he is always there). B/c it was my bday, they invited me over for dinner. My ex and I have a very unusual arrangement in that we are able to do this. Most people wouldn’t, but at the very least, I think the custodial parent should always encourage the kids to call, and buy a card.

  5. Rainy says:

    I still organize a family birthday party for my ex-husband and my daughter bakes him cake, and we buy him presents. But we’re pretty close, still.

    I think it’s important for divorced parents to joyfully enable the kids to celebrate the other parent’s milestones, particularly when they are small. Joyfully because, it will make THEM so happy to do something nice for their other parent and who does not take genuine joy in their children’s happiness?

  6. IMA2FOUR7 says:

    I agree with most, yes be a mentsch, buy the card or have the children make a card. Buy a present, and most definitely call and wish their parent happiness. I do not have parties or bake cakes for the wasband but if his daughters were so motivated I provide the recipe, ingredients and aid if necessary. It is my job to raise our children to be responsible human beings with derech eretz, not to inflict my divorce on them unecessarily.

  7. Being divorced doesn’t stop you from being a parent. And part of being a parent is being a role-model and encouraging respect and honor for the other parent.

    So, yes, I’ve also been there and done that. Believe me, kids will remember it and everyone will benefit from it, including you.

    As far as being the recipient, I wouldn’t blame the ex if my kids forget, any more than I would blame my spouse if my kids forget my birthday.


  8. a.k. says:

    I would not expect my children to remember my birthday, divorced or not.

    Birthday is something for small children, so that they learn to remember their birth date. But I think it is a bit immature of an adult to have any birthday-expectations.

    In jewish tradition, the concept of Birthday does not really exist (except Bar/Bat Mitzwah).

    So: just forget about the event.

    There might be 100 reasons why the children did not think of it.

    And no, the divorced spouse has no duty of remembering your birthday so as to remind the children of remembering it.

  9. a.k. says:

    PS: if of course, you choose to remind your children of their other parent’s birthday, all the better.

    I am not against that.

    But I strongly oppose any expectations and any form of being offended when it is not done BY THE OTHER PARENT.

  10. Otir says:

    I am divorced, and I am the custodial parent. The other parent is far away, I am glad when he remembers his sons’ birthdays. So I certainly don’t care about reminding about his birthday. My boys don’t care anyway. I wish my parents their birthdays, and my children are happy to participate when I prepare something, but I do not expect them to remember their birth dates.

    Sometimes my son remembers mine, but not always (it’s easy to remind him, because it’s the same as my mother, so when I tell him I am going to call his grannie to wish her a pleasant birthday, it rings a bell! :-)

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