Daily Press (Sunday)

Party problems could be red flag


Iam 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?

Dear Dr. Blackstone:

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. I always suggest the host invites everyone they want to invite — don’t agonize over who should attend and who shouldn’t. Invite them all, let them know all have been invited and then let them make the decision about who will attend.

But they must understand that if they do attend, they are expected to act like adults, not high school rivals, and be respectful of both the occasion and the host’s home.

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

Dear Reader:

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.

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. If these parents were doing a better job of co-parenting prior to dating someone new, that’s a HUGE red flag and Dad must take note. Boundaries must be set so that everyone understand­s their responsibi­lities. That means Dad will have to state very clearly what he wants his life to look like — and if this new girlfriend does not agree, she has the option to move on.

I know that sounds harsh, but 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. We all have baggage. If someone can’t accept yours, they are not the right someone. That’s good ex-etiquette.

Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “ExEtiquett­e for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation.” drjannblac­kstone@gmail. com

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