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Miley Cyrus is like any other kid from a divorced family who wants her (newly separated) parents to be together on her birthday. "I'm not going to go crazy, [just] have a fun party and then maybe take a vacation with my family... because that would be really cool. I think we need time to all be together," she told MTV News.
I can see how many separated parents might be unwilling to meet a request like Miley's. There's a high potential for awkward if you and your ex celebrate your kid’s birthday. Recently, I was at friend’s birthday party for her son -- she and her ex barely spoke. The grandparents didn’t even acknowledge each other. But the birthday boy was thrilled -- his parents put aside their differences and (hello!) made the day about him.
My ex and I have tried to do the same. One year we even celebrated my birthday together. No joke: my son, ex-husband, newborn daughter, new husband and I all crammed in a booth and devoured ice cream sundaes.
But not everyone is as willing to make getting together for special occasions as easy as we did. “You may be very angry with your child's other parent, and you may be very justified in that anger,” says Emily V. Gordon, a Los Angeles-based family therapist, “but that's not what a child's birthday is about.”
Gordon suggests following a few guidelines if you’re worried about tension. “Lay ground rules with each other,” she says. This includes determining the guest list and avoiding certain topics that could evoke hostility. “The other important thing to do beforehand is to set up a debriefing session with a trusted confidant or therapist immediately after the celebration, where you can vent and yell and be emotional about being around your ex,” Gordon says. Knowing you’ve carved out time to diffuse emotions afterwards might help settle you down during the actual party.
If you're divorced, how do you make birthdays and parties drama-free? Chime in below!