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I've been separated for a year and divorced for about 8 mos, and have a 4 yr old daughter with my exW. We are totally amicable, and work well together in coparenting. I've been dating a girl since shortly before my D was final, and I don't want to disrespect that relationship. GF is understandably a bit uncomfortable with it, but she knows my daughter comes first and ultimately she wants us to do what's best for her, too. Within that boundary, I make efforts to do things together with my ex for my daughter - dance recitals, her bday party, etc.

Where I'm having a hard time now are things like gifts and holiday events. My ex asked if I'd bring my daughter to xmas eve mass, and to take her to see The Nutcracker again this year (both fall within my xmas possession dates this year). I am having a hard time deciding if it is healthier for my daughter to do things like that, invite my ex to my place for xmas morning, etc. Or, is it better to keep our lives more separate and not give her false hope? I also fear that someday one of us will have a family that we want to spend xmas morning with, for example, and I don't want my daughter to feel like she was suddenly cut out. Like it's better to rip the band-aid off now...

Also on gifts - For xmas, ex's bday, and Mother's Day in the last year, I have either helped my daughter make a craft type gift or took her to pick out a small purchased gift, and cards. Ex does the same for me. It feels more and more strange to do this as time passes, but at the same time, I think it's the right thing to do for my daughter.

Thanks for reading, and I'd love to hear from anyone with experience - divorced with children, or children of divorce. Not too interested in opinions from people without children, but feel free to chime in anyway.
 

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It will become harder and less practical and I suggest keeping lives more separate because there will be others in the picture eventually, on both sides. You are right in seeing that you are setting a precedence now.

But go ahead with Nutcracker but meet there. Don't pick up the EXW. It could be a nice tradition and you could expand easily to include new BF/GF eventually with very little drama.

Continue with letting her choose small gifts you pay for - it teaches the joy of giving. Once she gets older and has an allowance you can guide her gifting decisions.

My ex never did the gift thing but I did let daughter do that for several years until lack of reciprocation because obvious and demonstrated a lack of respect to me as her mother. Then a friend took her shopping for a holiday/mother's day/birthday present for me. She was four when we separated as well.
 

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Well, it's a little too close for comfort for my liking, but everyone has their own limits.

While dating, my H was amicable with his ex-W; to the point of staying at her place while visiting his kids. Personally, I wasn't OK with that kind of thing and told him. He put an end to it, and frankly, if he hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to continue the relationship.
 

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Hmm I am interested to hear what works for others as well, I have been divorced for 6 months and I am also still trying to find some of those lines. Im not inviting him over for Thanksgiving ( which is at my house) but was considering inviting him over Christmas morning to open presents together. I have no issue with doing an occasional activity together with ex and DS, like a movie or dinner, as long as its not at the house. My DS is also 4 years old. Though I see this being an issue if either side ever gets serious enough with BF/GF down the road that they are included in the family events.
 

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Ex and I went through a period where we did LOTS of stuff still as a family. Everyone enjoyed it, and our rationale was that it was great for the kids. Hell we even took the kids away for a week together.

But ...

it actually makes things more confusing for them. You're out as a family, everyone having a great time, so they naturally wonder why mom and dad can't be together.

So we dialed it back.

Ex and I have a very good relationship, but we also stay out of one another's business.
Truth is, we both very very much enjoy our family. We will consistently behave in a manner that allows us to conduct our lives individually, while consciously making the effort to enrich the lives our our kids and make sure they know they are loved very much.

4 years since D Day and we still do Christmas morning together. We both acknowledge that if are paired with someone else, this practice will stop.

I don't give ex gifts.

Presuming that you both have new partners, that presents a whole different dimension, as CG pointed out.
Really runs the gamut. Bottom line is that any potential long term partner is likely to have a problem with you spending substantial amounts of time with an ex.

I have been in a number of relationships and it's never been an issue. And conversely to CG's situation, if a potential partner wanted to make how I choose to spend time with my children an issue ... she wouldn't remain a partner for long. Most of the women I dated, utterly despised their ex's and there was no co-parenting whatsoever, so for many, the thought of continuing to do things 'as a family' is utterly foreign.

Find your sweet spot. Proceed with caution.

Be honest with yourself if you want it truly for the benefit of your kids, or if you are hoping to salvage the relationship with your ex.
 

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Almost 3 years post separation for me, ex and I are amicable and remained friends.
We have both re partnered. We have kids ranging from 10 years to 15.

We still do things as a family, not often but maybe every couple of months.
We bike ride together.
We have dinners when family are in town.
We always attend school functions together and often go for pizza afterwards.

As a pp said it was a bit confusing for one of our kids and as soon as we realised that we worked hard to help her understand that we were still a family but we were a different version of the family we once were.
Our daughter still has the odd moment, I mean what little girl doesn't want their mum and dad to be together but she is doing OK.

We have Christmas together with extended family.
Ex and I both facilitate the getting of presents for each other from the kids for Mothers/Fathers day, Bdays and Christmas.

When things got serious with my partner I gave full disclosure about how my family works. He is more than OK with it.
My partner has a watered down version of this with his ex, they are not friends but they do celebrate events together with their children.
I have no problem with this at all.

Just keep a check on your daughter and make sure she understands that you are not getting back together with her mum but you are still friends and doing things as a family. Of course in age appropriate language.
 

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CG, do you have kids? Which part is too close for you? I agree, slumber parties are not on the menu.
Lol...precisely my point (at the time). I felt bad, as we were only dating when it happened (he went for a week long visit), but I knew that it would set a precedent were we to continue on together...fortunately, the way we handled it (grown up discussion, no fighting or threatening) it worked out.

Yes, I have my own kids, 1 grown and moved out, 1 grown and now living with us, and one youngster who I share with his Dad...we are civil, but that's about it...no activities together.
 

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And the whole thing was too close for me. I didn't want to get involved with a man whose ex-wife felt that she still had that 'spot' as his wife...do you know what I mean? This woman is just one example, but she is very overbearing and she has a real sense of entitlement, as the mother of his kids. She still does. Last summer, she intended on visiting our city and she informed my husband that he would need to pick her up at the airport, drop her off at a bus terminal so that she could continue her voyage...oh, and also, she'd said, if need be, she would have to overnight at our house. Um...no. I can only imagine if he had continued on with his amicability with her! In her case, however, I get the feeling that she wants to enjoy the perks of being his wife (both the monetary ones and the ordering him around) without being married to him anymore.

I realize that not all people are like this...but I made a good call at the time. If I hadn't, I think I'd have set myself up for a lifetime of visits from her and other fun stuff...
 

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I don't have kids myself, but I have always been impressed and grateful for the way my parents handled their divorce and parenting afterward. Admittedly, my sister and I were tweens when they split, so it wasn't quite the same as for a little kid, but I think they did a really good job.

For my folks, the only things they did together with us were big things--performances, graduations, etc. And really, with work and all, they could rarely make the same concerts/ plays/ competitions anyway, so it was rarely an issue.

They never did holidays together after the divorce, but they did work on keeping traditions in place regardless of where my sister and I happened to be for various holidays. Dad always had the dressing that my mom and I preferred at Thanksgiving because I liked it. We always went to Easter Sunrise Service and the Messiah sing along with whatever parent we were with when they rolled around.

As far as gifts go, they would help us out with getting gifts for the other parent, just the same as they would help us with getting things for our grandparents or whoever. They've always exchanged holiday gifts as well, but it's generally something along the lines of a Harry and David basket. We're a big gift family though, I'd guess it's one of the top two love languages for all of us. To not send a little something would be more notable (in a bad way) than just sending a McGift from the interwebz. They don't exchange birthday gifts or Mother/Father's Day gifts or anything like that though. And of course now that my sister and I are all grown up, they don't "donate" towards our gifts to each of them either :)
 

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And the whole thing was too close for me. I didn't want to get involved with a man whose ex-wife felt that she still had that 'spot' as his wife...do you know what I mean? This woman is just one example, but she is very overbearing and she has a real sense of entitlement, as the mother of his kids. She still does. Last summer, she intended on visiting our city and she informed my husband that he would need to pick her up at the airport, drop her off at a bus terminal so that she could continue her voyage...oh, and also, she'd said, if need be, she would have to overnight at our house. Um...no. I can only imagine if he had continued on with his amicability with her! In her case, however, I get the feeling that she wants to enjoy the perks of being his wife (both the monetary ones and the ordering him around) without being married to him anymore.

I realize that not all people are like this...but I made a good call at the time. If I hadn't, I think I'd have set myself up for a lifetime of visits from her and other fun stuff...
I would find this situation very difficult. To me there should be a pecking order if you like. eg I would not even ask the ex to do something that would place me in a "wifes" position like picking up at the airport etc.
The only way this sort of thing can work is if people understand boundaries.
 

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It's your Christmas. It's your time. In the divorce decree with my first wife, I could not see my babies until Christmas afternoon, every year.

I made dinner and for me, that was a big thing. Ex brought them over. I wanted to pick them up but, she didn't want me to do that. They stayed long enough to open presents, which weren't much because I was paying child support. Then they left.

Their mother was waiting outside for them. She told them their uncle had gifts for them and they had to get there at a certain time, which was not long after they arrived at my place.(an hour or less) They left. It broke my heart.

I never had a good Christmas with them. I love them with all my heart and I will never get those days back, ever. They figure I didn't care. I can't change their minds. It's too late.

You do what you want. I would cherish every moment. She can do what she wants when she has them. Don't knuckle under to her. She isn't your wife, you have to look out for yourself. You will regret it if you don't.
 

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Interesting points in the response above. My 10 cents:

1) Having new partners does create a different dimension - all the more reason to establish boundaries early on so you a) have a healthy place in your life and in your child's life for a new partner and b) to help your child adjust while still young and w/o the complexity of a new partner in the picture and c) out of respect for your future partner!

2) A new partner (in a serious relationship) has every right to question the boundaries you have established with your ex, and to help shape them as you establish a new family unit. You should absolutely continue to spend time with your children and be involved in their lives - but that doesn't mean you behave as if you and your ex and the child are still a family unit. No reason why you can't have respectful boundaries and be an involved parent at the same time.

3) I agree - you have to be honest with yourself. Give the child credit for being able to adapt to a new normal and a new family life. Sometimes parents keep the boundaries loose for their own sakes - it feels familiar, it may avoid conflict or tough questions....poor reasons in my opinion for not making the clear transition from intact family unit to divorced co-parenting.
Exactly...there was no way I was getting involved with a man who still acted as though he was married to his ex. I know several 'couples' that you don't even know are divorced! One couple I know, moved back in together! Supposedly to make it easier for the kids...ya right. Then they (both) wonder why it's so hard for them to date. Pff...!

In my husband's case, he would travel to BC and spend a week or more, basically living at his ex's, behaving as a family would. Perhaps it's what worked for them while he was single, but it would be unfair to expect a prosepctive partner to put up with such things. Never mind confusing the kids, what about confusing me?

Since his kids are so far away anyway, it wasn't a case of choosing me over them at all, since he only sees them once a year. Now, they either come to us, or we visit them and stay in a hotel. Simple Pimple (;))

The only one it bothers is the ex, who now realizes that her ex-H is no longer under her thumb. The kids are teens and frankly, they're at the age where they have no time for their father.
 

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I would find this situation very difficult. To me there should be a pecking order if you like. eg I would not even ask the ex to do something that would place me in a "wifes" position like picking up at the airport etc.
The only way this sort of thing can work is if people understand boundaries.
Boundaries are key; and my husband's were so lax! For the love of God, she'd be emailing asking for something (usually more $) and he'd be humming and hawing at the computer trying to come up with a 10 page explanation of why he couldn't send any extra.

It took awhile to get him to realize that she doesnt have a need to know anything about our personal finances. He STILL divulges too much, IMO...but at least he's not giving her our bank statements anymore (he wasn't, but you know what I mean).

But it's her, really, with her expectations, and her entitlement. She suffers from the Golden Uterus Syndrome...:rolleyes: and he used to fall for it every time.
 

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When you divorce, you cease to be a family
With a special needs child and a 6 year old? No.
Certainly not in our case. Glad yours was successfully that cut and dry.

That is not the language we chose to use, nor would we ever state, "We are no longer a family."

At 4 years out, what we have works. Being able to recognize if it isn't working ... and in that context I'm referring to the state of the kids comfort or confusion is what is key.
 

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With a special needs child and a 6 year old? No.
Certainly not in our case. Glad yours was successfully that cut and dry.

That is not the language we chose to use, nor would we ever state, "We are no longer a family."

At 4 years out, what we have works. Being able to recognize if it isn't working ... and in that context I'm referring to the state of the kids comfort or confusion is what is key.
In my opinion, yes, divorce dissolves a family unit regardless of whether the children are young or have special needs. I think the language that is most appropriate is, 'mommy is your family and daddy is your family but mommy and daddy are not in a family together anymore'.
 

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There is a world of difference between what you think is appropriate language and what you actually tell your children. If that is what you said to them, and every thing is working out for all parties involved, than so be it. That's good.

Our circumstances are working out with adaptable and well-adjusted kids as well, using different context.

Given that I know divorced couples that use their children like pieces in a chess match ... years after divorce, I think any scenario that enables co-parenting is the preferable choice.
 

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In my opinion, yes, divorce dissolves a family unit regardless of whether the children are young or have special needs. I think the language that is most appropriate is, 'mommy is your family and daddy is your family but mommy and daddy are not in a family together anymore'.
This is the complete opposite of how we live. Our kids know we are still a family, just a different version. We will always be a family.
Life can be flexible, I would prefer my kids to grow up and fully grasp that concept.
 

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This is the complete opposite of how we live. Our kids know we are still a family, just a different version. We will always be a family.
Life can be flexible, I would prefer my kids to grow up and fully grasp that concept.
Your arrangement seems to work for you. For people who do not wish to have that arrangement, or cannot for some reason, it is possible to cooperatively co-parent with boundaries that look drastically different from pre-divorce life. I don't believe the only two options are behaving as if you are a family and being in a constant state of tension or discord such that it ultimately affects the kids. In my case, the co-parenting is collaborative but the boundaries are such that there is no impression of a family that no longer exists. This also makes it possible for new partners to enter the picture in a healthy way. There is just one child, a ten year old (divorce was when he was 5) and he has adapted well and is very happy, doing well in school..there is no doubt his needs are met. Regardless what our individual/couple perspectives are on this topic, I believe it is one worthy of consideration and I wish the original poster the best in establishing a 'new normal' that is healthy for everyone involved - now or in the future.
 

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Your arrangement seems to work for you. For people who do not wish to have that arrangement, or cannot for some reason, it is possible to cooperatively co-parent with boundaries that look drastically different from pre-divorce life. I don't believe the only two options are behaving as if you are a family and being in a constant state of tension or discord such that it ultimately affects the kids. In my case, the co-parenting is collaborative but the boundaries are such that there is no impression of a family that no longer exists. This also makes it possible for new partners to enter the picture in a healthy way. There is just one child, a ten year old (divorce was when he was 5) and he has adapted well and is very happy, doing well in school..there is no doubt his needs are met. Regardless what our individual/couple perspectives are on this topic, I believe it is one worthy of consideration and I wish the original poster the best in establishing a 'new normal' that is healthy for everyone involved - now or in the future.
Oh I totally agree with you. Sorry if my post came across as meaning my way or the highway. Meant to be from my POV for my kids. And we are not without our issues here but as long as ex and I can continue to co parent the way we are then we can deal with all obstacles.

Each case/divorce/family is different. I admire anyone that knows their child/ren, ex and themselves well enough to put into practice a way that works for them.

I have seen too many just treat divorce like a good excuse for an all in brawl with little regard for the kids or the adults well being.
 
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