Q. I am throwing my best friend a surprise 40th birthday party. She is divorced and her ex is my husband’s best friend. They were getting along just fine and would have easily attended the same party until he started dating another woman. This woman is very jealous and will not allow my BFF’s ex to be around my BFF, even if it is one of their children’s birthday parties. I would invite both the ex and my BFF to the party, but his girlfriend probably won’t have it. I think I should explain to him why he’s not being invited. What’s good ex-etiquette?
A. Oh what a tangled web we weave. To be blunt, this is your friend’s ex’s problem, not yours. He dates whom he wants and gets the baggage along with it.
From an ex-etiquette standpoint, it is not the host’s responsibility to mediate between exes. The only responsibility a host has to their guests is to be gracious, kind and polite.
Quite frankly, I took more notice that this new woman in your friend’s life will not allow him to attend his children’s social events if their mother is present. That is a huge red flag on all sorts of levels.
First, allowing a new love interest to dictate policy is sure to cause some resentment among the ranks — especially if these parents were successfully co-parenting prior to her entrance. Ex-etiquette for parents rule No. 4: “Parents make the rules; bonusparents uphold them.” This person isn’t even regarded as a parent figure as of this writing; they are just dating as I understand it, yet she’s calling the shots when it comes to his children? Yikes.
Second, parents who share custody will eventually both end up at their children’s school plays, soccer games, maybe even back-to-school night. It’s inevitable.
I have seen too many new partners attempt to run the show at the detriment of their partner’s relationship with their children. Your kids will remember that you didn’t go to their soccer game because your girlfriend didn’t want to be around their mom — and they will feel slighted.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, bonusfamilies.com./Tribune News Service