Parents of My Kid’s Friends Won’t Communicate with Me.

Dear Robin:

Since my amicable divorce several years ago, I’ve noticed a very annoying habit of a few parents of my son’s friends. They refuse to include me on emails and other communications about my son.

Most of the parents I know will include both me and my ex-wife on invitations and other messages having to do with parties, get togethers, sleep-overs, games, etc. Two women in particular will not. I find out about events through my ex and it makes both of our lives more complicated than they have to be.

How about an “AskDesCamp” script for me? I almost missed a birthday party last month because of this crap and I’d like to address it specifically.

Annoyed in Arizona

Dear Annoyed in Arizona:

As I wrote in my teaser this weekend on Facebook and on this blog yesterday, I can certainly relate to this problem.  

As it turns out, the 17 emails I received after the two teasers indicate this is a common issue with divorced couples trying to co-parent their kids in best manner possible.  As with all of life’s troubles, this behavior can stem from different situations.  

Let’s take a look before I give you my script, which conveniently covers any of the following scenarios!

1. Your former spouse (and possibly their new partner) is encouraging the one-way communication.

One woman wrote to me with a sad story about her ex-husband’s efforts to trash-talk her in her community and install his new wife as the mother figure.  Theirs was an especially ugly divorce, the ugliness of which continues in the years since the split.

Because of this, some parents assume she is an absentee mother and are surprised when they meet her.  

From the things those parents are hearing from her ex and his new wife, parents of her kids’ friends are shocked when not only is she present and not locked up somewhere, but also that she has all of her teeth, is fully dressed, and doesn’t drive her kids to soccer practice with a martini sloshing around in a Red Solo Cup®.

In other words, this is a very together and normal and wonderful woman, but her ex-husband and his wife have made sure the parents of the kids her kids spend time with view her as a fucked-up hot mess.  Therefore, they would never think to communicate with the mom.

2. The parents are simply ignorant. 

Everyone has their own shit to shovel, and not everyone understands the complexities of a co-parenting paradigm. It’s possible these people just don’t know what to do and how to handle a situation with which they aren’t familiar.  

You told me both the women are still married so consider the possibility that a lack of experience with your family structure may be confusing to them.  They may not know you and your ex are on great terms, and they may be somewhat sexist in that they assume the mom does all the planning.

3. The parents in question don’t like you.

  • Maybe they blame you for your divorce.  
  • Maybe they are terrified of divorce because their own marriage is heartbreakingly tenuous.  
  • Maybe they think they are superior to you.  You mentioned one in particular is extremely socially and money-conscious and you don’t fit in with that crowd.
  • Maybe they find you distasteful or unlikable for any number of reasons.
  • Maybe your new choice of partner offends them.

Whatever.  

They don’t like you.

Who cares?  They still should communicate with you on matters relating to your son.  

And hence, I deliver unto you the AskDesCamp Script-O-the-Day: How to deal with people who won’t include you on communications about your kid.

Dear Parent:

Today I received yet another email from Little Joey’s mom regarding an event you are planning for your son’s birthday. This has happened repeatedly over the years and I hope you can understand and appreciate it is frustrating for me as a father.

Co-parenting isn’t always easy, but it is made more difficult when either parent is lacking information about their child’s schedule.  I know you aren’t used to a “reorganized family” but please be aware of mine and include both Joey’s mom and me on any invitations or communications about events Joey is attending.

Imagine for a moment your marriage ends and you find yourself in my position.  I think you would find it equally frustrating.  Copying only one parent on these emails and texts makes a lot of work for each of us.  You don’t know our parenting schedule so please don’t make assumptions in the future about who Joey is with and when.  Just include both his parents on the message and we will coordinate the details.

I appreciate your help in this matter.  As I said, co-parenting takes effort and sometimes effort needs to be extended by others as well as me and Joey’s mom.  Please be assured if you ever find yourself in my position I will extend to you the same courtesies. 

Appreciatively,

Annoyed in Arizona

Let me know how it goes.  

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