Article written by Gary Direnfeld
Milestones are an important part of any child’s life. Whether it be a birthday, the first day of school, or a graduation, these are critical moments in their life which deserve to be celebrated. But while these special days may come easily to some families, in a separated household it might not be as simple as buying a cake or blowing up a few balloons.
Regardless of the quality of the relationship between co-parents, most kids want to be celebrated by both their parents. It is built into our DNA. The more valued a kid feels by their parents, the stronger their self-worth. Unfortunately, when co-parents are caught up in their own complicated relationship, the child’s need to feel valued may get pushed to the side. This is often seen when it comes time to celebrate a child’s milestones.
Celebrating Milestones with your Co-Parent:
Celebrating a child’s milestones together can pose a challenge for some co-parents. This may be due to conflicting schedules, or else a rocky relationship. Regardless of the reason, it is important for parents to do their best to put their child’s needs first. This may mean putting personal problems aside in order to celebrate your child’s milestones together.
If you and your co-parent are able to celebrate your child together, there are a few things to remember. First, it is you and your co-parent’s task to remain respectful toward each other. Neither should try to provoke the other which would ultimately take away from your child’s special day.
If celebrating together is too challenging, there are alternative ways that you can be there for your child’s milestone. One suggestion may be that you both attend the celebration but don’t interact and leave space between the two of you. This means allowing your child to go easily between you and your co-parent at their own discretion and without your influence.
The Absent Co-Parent:
There are some parents who may not put in an effort to be part of their child’s milestone. In this instance, you might feel compelled to facilitate their attendance. As odd as it sounds, this may not be a good idea. Despite your good attentions, your efforts could fall flat and create greater disappointment for your child.
In the end, each parent is best responsible for their own relationship with their child. With that, the child can come to realistic terms with the parent as they truly are instead of a parent made up to be something else.
With your kids, reality is typically best over fantasy. Rather than sheltering children from the real world, parents should support them through it. Therefore, in these situations where your co-parent is absent for an important milestone, it isn’t up to you to compensate. Seek to have the child develop a realistic understanding and expectations of each parent as they are.
While the best case scenario for celebrating your child’s milestones is to have two reasonably emotionally intact parents who can celebrate together, remember you cannot control your co-parent. The most important thing is that you are there for your child.
Let your kids bask in the joy of your pleasure for their accomplishments and developments.
Let the shine on your child’s face be the reward for your efforts.
These may be your child’s milestones, but these are also important moments in your life as a parent that you will cherish forever.