Attending family functions?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006
Attending family functions?
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:03pm
Which family functions is it okay for ex spouses to attend? Is it appropriate their new spouse and or half siblings attend with them? I am thinking of holiday parties, funerals, marriages, baby showers, birthday parties, births (visiting the hospital), sickness (visiting the hospital) and the like. What if you get along with the ex's family? What if they get along with your family? Should they or you gracefully bow out if the ex spouse is uncomfortable with their/your presence, even if the extended family is okay with it? Do you consider once family with extended relatives always family by virtue of the children?


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-01-2003
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:13pm

BD's family adores me, and I love them. We were never close when BD and I dated, but once I married DH and moved closer to BD's mother, and encouraged/supported her seeing DD as much as she wanted, we became close. This bond was increased due to the fact that BD cut off child support for a while, wasn't visiting at all, and was sending nasty emails. His mother thought he was being a childish jerk and we had many many mother-to-mother talks.

Even now, she takes "my side" in every dispute he decided to share with her. I get phone calls from her telling me not to let him push me around, and she gets excited when DD isn't "perfect" for him, so he can actually parent.

Anyways, all that being said (I won't even go into the fact that his sister leaves messages on my online journal ending in "Love you!", and his sister-in-law and I are close friends as well)...I would never go to their family functions.

If he is uncomfortable with it, I'm sorry to say its his problem. In OUR situation, he has alienated himself from them, due to him thinking they are too "low-class" for him and his new "upper class" fiancee. His parents have told me that when we get court custody sorted out, that the more I have DD the better, since they'll get to be more involved in her life when DH and I have her than if their own son and his wife-to-be had her.

But yes, I consider them family, and his mom has told me over and over that she loves me and I'm much as part of their family as DD is.

I never call them just to talk, or send them Christmas presents, but when she visits or drops off DD, we always talk, when she calls about DD we'll chat for at least 30 minutes, etc.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-10-2006
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:27pm
You are truly blessed to have such a good relationship with your bd's mother! Your family is absolutely beautiful and you are all very blessed to have each other. I hope the bumps with your bd and his new wife smooth out. You all deserve to be happy! (I lurk on all the blended boards but rarely post).
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-19-2004
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 9:47pm

If the extended family wants to invite the ex-spouse, they should first as the ex that they are related to, an if their relative is okay with it, then go ahead and invite the ex-spouse.


Avatar for nmillerhhi
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 12-05-2006 - 11:01pm

I feel that when two people divorce, they should establish separate families. When one remarries, the new spouse should be able to attend family functions and establish his/her own relationships within the family.

There are some one time type functions that, because of the children, all parents, bio and step, have to attend together. These would include graduations, weddings, births, sickness, etc. Other functions such as holidays, birthdays, etc should be celebrated separately.

If an ex is still close to members of the family he or she used to be a member of, there is no reason they should not continue those friendships. However, they can and should meet at other times - for lunch, dinner, etc.

Recently, my oldest SS graduated from high school. We traveled 500 miles to be there. BM insisted that we come to her house prior to the ceremonies to be with the family as everyone got ready. We sat in the living room with BM while everyone dressed and then followed them to the graduation location. Her DH, who glared at us the entire time, tried his best to lose us on the way. We had asked to take the children out to dinner following the graduation. We wanted to keep them overnight, take them to breakfast and bring them back. BM would not hear of this. She arranged instead for a big family party afterwards (only her extended family and her DH's extended family were invited along with us). My suggestion to DH was that we allow them to have their party while we went back to our motel room. We would then pick the children up in the morning and take them to breakfast so that we could have some quality time with them. We are rarely able to see the children so this drastically limited the time we had with them. I was uncomfortable at the family party. However, it was put that if we didn't attend her family party, we didn't love the children. These were all people who treated my DH pretty badly when he was married to her and afterwards.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-03-2006
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 2:54am

Although BM and I communicate well and on occassion even sit and chat when she picks up/drops off DSD, no one (meaning DH, DH's family, or I) would be comfortable with BM being at a family function like birthdays, christmas, thanksgiving. I reaaaally don't think BM is would be comfortable at all either. You can see it in her face when she came to pick up DSD from my In-laws (her ex-in-laws) house she looked really nervous and anxious. I ended up going outside and making small talk while DSD got her shoes because she was standing there looking freaked out and the family just stared at her out of the window.

Now BM's Dad and his wife, we visit alot. I don't know how BM feels about her EX and the SM, (DH and I) visiting HER Dad. But, we visit with them because they have custody of the other little girl, DSD's half-sister (through BM), so we have been trying to get the girls together as much as is feasible. We don't go to their family functions though. We drop off DSD to go.

They have custody of BM's older daughter (age 9) so we (DH and I) took DSD to their house for Halloween and we were there for hours. We walked the neighborhood with both girls. - DSD's sister spends the night with us, and DSD spends the night with them some too.

I would fully expect, and welcome, BM to stuff like when DSD graduates, or something along those lines of course!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 9:13am

The answer to this varies depending upon the relationship between the exes, and with new spouses. In my personal situation, I would say the only functions that would be attended by me and my ex would be major ones - graduations and weddings. I don't even think ex would attend my funeral, quite frankly. We get along better than we used to, which means now instead of being hateful we ignore one another. We live in different states now, but even when we lived a few miles apart, there were always separate birthday parties, holiday dinners, etc. I don't like my ex-in-laws, either, and my parents don't care for them so even when we were married there weren't any combined dinners or celebrations.

IMO, attendance should take into consideration the opinion of all spouses involved, with the deciding factors being the importance of the occasion and the child's wishes. I'm not going to miss my son's graduation because my ex's wife would "feel uncomfortable". But if they were to give him a big party afterwards, and not want me to attend I would be ok with that and have my own party for him. My kids have never had a problem with separate parties - hey, you get more gifts that way! We felt very strongly that not making a clean break would encourage the kids to think a reconciliation was possible. And in our case - not possible!! It's always best to have two separate fun parties, than one where people want to kill one another.

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-07-2006
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 9:49am

<<>> Generally speaking, ones that are for the kids. My ss's mom wouldn't go to any of his family functions when they were married, there's NO way she would now and quite honestly she would not be welcome. She was rude to DH's family, and she horribly mistreated DH and SS.

<<>> Absolutely. If it's ok for the ex then it should be ok for their family as well.

Same as above, in my case. My DH's brother comitted suicide last May and not only did BM not attend even though this was her brother in law for 10 years, she made it really difficult for us to have ss there (btw this was ss's favorite uncle, he lived with DH and ss after he came back from Iraq before DH and I were together) - the Funeral was on her weekend and darned if she would go out of her way to be considerate even in a case like that. We had to miss the family get-together after the funeral because she had some shopping to do and couldn't be bothered to alter her schedule or help out and pick up ss.

<<>> Yes. There's nothing wrong with getting together with them outside of non-child related family functions. It is really hard to build a new family when the old family is still involved in EVERYTHING - it would be nice to just be considerate and give them space.

<<>> NO. They are only the children's family after divorce.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-29-2003
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 10:28am

"I am thinking of holiday parties"

I don't think exes belong at holliday parties. The kids birthday parties, sure if the exes and steps, if there are any, can get along.


I would think it depends. Does the family like the ex? Do they want them there? Do the exes get along? When my exes mother died I went but my then fiance didn't. My kids sat with their father and temp wife number 2 and I sat with everyone else in the family section. My ex and ex FIL wanted me to sit in the family section but I didn't feel it was appropriate. After the funeral my ex came to my ex FILs house. Everyone asked him/me why he wasn't there with me because he was more than welcome to be there. His whole family still likes me and his father still has a picture of me, my ex and our sons janging in his living room.

"marriages baby showers, birthday parties, births (visiting the hospital), sickness (visiting the hospital)"

Definatetly the childrens baby showers, birthday parties, births, and sickness if it is child who is having the baby, birthday party or hospitalized. My exes family would welcome me, including my ex, to anything their/his family was doing but I wouldn't go unless it was something like what I just said. We had my ex and temp wife number 4 over to our house for a BBQ for our oldest childs graduation. I don't like the "man" but...

" Should they or you gracefully bow out if the ex spouse is uncomfortable with their/your presence, even if the extended family is okay with it?"

I think so.

"Do you consider once family with extended relatives always family by virtue of the children?"

Nope, not at all.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-14-2006
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 11:03am


When you look at this from the perspective of what is best for the child, IMO that is an amazingly selfish attitude by her grandparents.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-14-2005
Wed, 12-06-2006 - 11:27am

I think this kind of thing can get dicey. In general I think it's best if things are separate, unless it is something specifically involving the kids such as a b-day or graduation, etc.

I think if ex's are going to attend family functions everyone involved should be comfortable with it, otherwise what's the point of creating an uncomfortable/awkward situation? Also, I think everyone's motives should be considered, again I think it's okay if it's truly in the best interest of the kids but if ex's are invited to functions in order to get back at someone (such as a parent is mad at their child for divorcing and want to prove some kind of point or they don't like the NW and want to show they 'favor' the ex) that's just mean and unnecessary. And never under any circumstance do I think ex's and ex-in-laws, etc should discuss anything personal about the bio-parents such as who they are dating, what they think of the new gf/bf/wife/husband, etc. There has to be some clear boundaries if the relationship is going to be maintained, again I think it should be really focused on the kids.