Author Topic: A divorce etiquette question  (Read 6135 times)

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Sharnita

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2013, 11:13:33 PM »
I also think that it depends how the "tension" plays out.  Do mom and dad fight in front of people?  Do they give each other the silent treatment?  If it is that blatant then mom should get the choice - he gets left off the guest list or they all do.  She can decide which is ess damaging to her kids.  If it is more subtle and the family can ignore it then maybe they can tolerate it, at least for now.

hyzenthlay

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2013, 11:16:30 PM »
Additionally, If I am expetced to treat people like they are married, I would find it a whole lot easrier to carry it off if they just didn't tell me they were getting divorced.

Well maybe she was hoping for support from her family?

My DH and I recently divorced, we are still in the same house, and are friends, but as much as I desperately needed the support at the time, I sometimes wish I hadn't told my folks all that I did. I don't expect them to welcome him, but it might have been nice to retain the option for the sake of the kids.

Just play pretend for a few hours at a time, for her sake and the kid's sake?

Sharnita

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2013, 11:21:22 PM »
Additionally, If I am expetced to treat people like they are married, I would find it a whole lot easrier to carry it off if they just didn't tell me they were getting divorced.

Well maybe she was hoping for support from her family?

My DH and I recently divorced, we are still in the same house, and are friends, but as much as I desperately needed the support at the time, I sometimes wish I hadn't told my folks all that I did. I don't expect them to welcome him, but it might have been nice to retain the option for the sake of the kids.

Just play pretend for a few hours at a time, for her sake and the kid's sake?

Honestly, I think she needs to prioritize.  If the support is "yes, this has been bad, it is rough, we are on your side" then asking them then to pretend he is as much a part of the family as he ever was is not really realistic, IMO.  From the OP's descritption it sounds kind of like the soon to be divorced couple is finding it a bit hard to be completely convincing when they pretend, that there is tension. 

peaches

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2013, 04:28:01 AM »
We have had some divorces in our extended family, and we always take our cues from the family member who is getting the divorce.

If they want to include the ex in events - or if they want to exclude them - that would be fine with me.

For important life events involving the children (weddings, graduations, special holidays) you would expect both parents to show up, even after a divorce. These occasions mean a great deal to the children.

In OP's case, it seems the parents want to go gradually in making changes to their children's lives. that seems understandable to me. Let them set the pace. It's their lives, their divorce, their children.



MrTango

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2013, 08:31:24 AM »
Honestly, I wouldn't be willing to pretend for their kids' sake that the divorce I knew about wasn't in process.

Instead, I'd just cut back my contact with them until the drama was done.

postalslave

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2013, 08:34:29 AM »

If there really is tension in the home they might feel relieved not having to pretend in front of the entire extended family that everything is hunkydorey.  Ideally the mom would not have told the family the situation was y if she wanted everyone to carry on as if it was x.  That is unfair to everyone else.

This, so this, My parents "stayed together for the kids" despite the very thick tension. At the time I didn't understand the effect that stress was having on me but now, after thousands of dollars sunk into therapy, I've realized that what my parents did was not the best choice.

OP I hope your friends family stops forcing these "all is well" family gatherings on them.

lowspark

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2013, 09:07:00 AM »
I also think that it depends how the "tension" plays out.  Do mom and dad fight in front of people?  Do they give each other the silent treatment?  If it is that blatant then mom should get the choice - he gets left off the guest list or they all do.  She can decide which is ess damaging to her kids.  If it is more subtle and the family can ignore it then maybe they can tolerate it, at least for now.

This is exactly what I was thinking. If there is conspicuous public conflict between the couple, in other words, if they couldn't put their differences aside long enough to behave in front of others, then I would hesitate to invite them both to anything. But honestly, that might hold true even if they weren't getting a divorce.

On the other hand, if it's just tension but the couple is conducting themselves well, then I'd go ahead and respect my relative's wishes and invite them both.

Regarding whether the kids know, it's almost certain they have some inkling of what's going on whether the parents have told them or not. Kids, even young kids, are much more in tune to those kinds of things than we might imagine. On top of that, if they've told other people, the chances that someone will let something slip are enormous so the kids will find out that way if they don't already know.

Remember, kids that age have no idea what is considered "normal". To them, "normal" is pretty much what they've experienced. So even if they know their parents are splitting, it might seem normal that they are still living as a family, that they are all invited to family events, etc. because they really have nothing else to compare this experience to.

So in conclusion, I'd say, unless the couple is disruptive in public situations, I'd invite them all.

Twik

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2013, 09:15:07 AM »
Two things come to mind for me.
First, he will continue to be their father, regardless of what his relationship with their mother turns out to be. Is he going to be shunned by half their family?

Actually, it's pretty common that after an actual divorce/breakup, the family of one partner no longer invites the other to their social gatherings, despite the other partner still being a parent of their children. This is not "shunning"; most people who break up actually prefer not to socialize together afterwards.

I suppose my answer to the OP's question would depend on what the "tension" was. If it's simply that other people know that the relationship is nearly over, and are uneasy with seeing the couple acting in public as if it wasn't, I would recommend inviting the family as a whole. If it's open tension, that would ruin the gathering, I would consider it a case for the desperate measure of breaking the "social unit" rule. If children were not involved, I might say don't invite the couple at all; but that would be very unfair to children who are already in a situation where the unpleasantness is not of their making.
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Eden

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2013, 10:11:53 AM »
So in conclusion, I'd say, unless the couple is disruptive in public situations, I'd invite them all.

This is where I'm at too.

But take it with a grain of salt because my family tends to adopt people, including those who have been legally divorced from our family. One of my dad's cousin's ex-wives continues to attend our family get-togethers 20-some years after their divorce and her new husband and his children attend as well. It's strange when you think about it, but the ex's relationships are amicable and it just seems natural in my family.

SPuck

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #24 on: February 06, 2013, 10:24:38 AM »
I also think that it depends how the "tension" plays out.  Do mom and dad fight in front of people?  Do they give each other the silent treatment?  If it is that blatant then mom should get the choice - he gets left off the guest list or they all do.  She can decide which is ess damaging to her kids.  If it is more subtle and the family can ignore it then maybe they can tolerate it, at least for now.

I agree with this. For me it depends on how they act in public. Other people shouldn't be held hostage by their situation if all they can do is snipe at one another in public.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2013, 10:29:28 AM by SPuck »

CakeBeret

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #25 on: February 06, 2013, 10:36:35 AM »
I grew up with divorced parents, and sometimes both parents were invited to family gatherings. It was comforting to me that my parents could be in the same room, socialize with others and each other, and get along. It was nice to go to a family party and not have to worry about whether Mom could go but Dad couldn't, or vice versa.

So I think it's healthy for the kids for the dad to be included in at least *some* events. He doesn't have to be invited to every Sunday afternoon impromptu cookout, but including him on major holidays and for large parties would go a long way, imo.
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Lynn2000

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #26 on: February 06, 2013, 11:18:41 AM »
One thing I'm confused about. Just because the family of five is invited, doesn't necessarily mean they all have to show up. In my extended family it's quite common for, say, my actual cousin and his kids to come to a family gathering, while his wife doesn't attend. Maybe she's busy working, had another engagement that day, is feeling ill; or, maybe there's something she doesn't like about our family, or maybe they're having tension at home. It could be any of those things and is, IME, much more likely to fall onto the innocent side of the spectrum.

So if this were my family, I would invite all five (both adults and all the kids). I would then assume that the adults would decide between themselves who was actually going to attend. Are all five going to go and pretend everything is hunky-dory even though all of us know something is wrong? Or is the soon-to-be-ex going to make a polite excuse, like he has a migraine or he needs to get the car repaired, and let just the wife and kids attend her family's party? If both adults decided to attend I would assume they were going to act like adults and not argue etc. in front of people; if not that's a good reason to not invite any of them back for a little while.
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Jaelle

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #27 on: February 06, 2013, 11:46:02 AM »
OK, back after asking some questions.

They are not disruptive, she says, aside from the occasional snarky comment. But since everyone in the family knows that it's happening (and apparently the STBX has been a real donkey about some things), no one really knows how to behave. She herself said she gets a stomachache from the tension in the air. :P  And it's worse because no one knows if the kids know, and no one wants to ask, and everyone is worried about giving something away in front of them.

(Personally, I think that has to be excruciating for the kids.  :-\  The eldest of the three is a very bright little boy of 8, whom I've met once, and I find it impossible to believe  he hasn't figured out something's up. But none of my business. :P I also don't know why someone just doesn't step up and ask if the kids know ... out of their hearing, of course ... but it seems to be quite the family dynamic.)

I'll pass on that it should probably be all of them. Friend was considering an upcoming get-together but is considering opting out because of this. She hates the tension.
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bah12

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #28 on: February 06, 2013, 12:07:41 PM »
So, they are still married and they are living together and they request the family to treat them as they would any couple that are married and living together.

They aren't disruptive at family events, so the only tension is from the fact that the family knows they are divorcing.  I really think the family needs to respect this couple.  They are still a couple even if they may not be for that much longer.  If they are causing tension in their actions, then the family can discuss that issue with them...as in "we understand that you want us to invite both of you to all family events for the sake of the kids, and we are willing to do that; however, the fact that you two are not nice to each other is causing the whole family to be uncomfortable around you.  Please, if you want  us to pretend that everything is fine between you, then please also act as if everything is fine between you."

Also, these are adults.  THey know the couple is divorcing so why can't they ask if the kids know what's going on?  It seems to me that it's the smart thing to do, considering no one wants to accidently be the one that breaks the news to the kids.

Lynn2000

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Re: A divorce etiquette question
« Reply #29 on: February 06, 2013, 12:21:45 PM »
If they aren't disruptive at family events, then the family just needs to carry on as normal. What would they normally be talking about with them? Talk about those same things--job, school for the kids, etc.. I guess I'm not sure what they would be talking about that would "give it away" in front of the kids--would they normally be asking the adults to talk about their relationship issues, at a family BBQ, in front of everyone? I'm sure other relatives are concerned and want to know things like when so-and-so is going to move out, if they'll have to change jobs, etc., but if they want to have a conversation about that, I would think they would go off to a private corner anyway, even if the kids were fully aware of what was going on. It's a very emotional thing to be talking about and they might not want to talk about the hard stuff, cry, etc. in front of their children anyway. Or, the concerned relatives could invite just their adult relative out for a one-on-one lunch and talk about it then.

I guess I just don't see the difficulty with keeping everything light and shallow and polite and unemotional at mass family gatherings. Um, I guess that tells you what all my mass family gatherings are like...  :-\
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