When my son turned 1 year old last year, his birthday party was kind of awkward. We made it small and only invited his grandparents and any aunts/uncles that live close by. His biological paternal grandfather and grandmother have been bitterly divorced for nearly 20 years and there is still a lot of strain (throw in a step-grandma, too). They don’t fight with each other or anything, but during the entire party, grandpa’s “side” took up one side of the room and grandma took up the other side. They tried not to look at each other and did not even so much as say hi to each other. To say the least, there was so much tension in the air that at his 2nd birthday coming up, I do not wish to invite either of them over. It’s absolutely not worth it, and I know once my son gets older he will be able to feel the tension because it is STRONG. They pretty much abhor each other. My question is, what should I do? Invite everybody but the grandparents? Leave it up to them to take my son out and celebrate his birthday in another way, on their own time? I’m not sure how to handle it because I would love to celebrate with family, and I know excluding part of his family is not right. Thanks! 1007-13
What struck me reading your story is that you have two grandparents and siblings who are willing to come to your home to celebrate a grandchild’s/nephew’s birthday regardless of the history and their animosity. They knew it would be awkward and came anyway.
By having a small and intimate party, the entire guest list consisted of enemy combatants who had no “bunker” to retreat to. In other words, if the party had been larger with neutral guests like friends, neighbors and the other spouse’s parents and siblings then the enemies can “hide” amongst these people and the lack of communication between the warring sides does not appear to be as severe or mitigates it entirely. When you married, didn’t these same people have to behave during the wedding and reception?
So, you can either choose to host a larger party or keep your birthday celebrations more sedate with quiet celebrations with each grandparent. My two grandchildren live almost 2 hours from us but right around the corner from their other set of grandparents and because of that distance we often have two different birthday celebrations on different days. Trust me, the kids won’t mind. So, you may have to treat your feuding parents as separate families that will do better celebrating separately.