This year, with the economy being a major issue and people's wallets feeling lighter, I want to teach my son what it means to be conservative with our spending and how it doesn't have to negatively affect our lifestyle.I want him to know that fun can still be had without having to spend money and that we can create memories that will last longer than most of his toys.
My son's birthday falls between Christmas and New Year's which is always a challenging time to schedule a birthday party. This year, my ex-husband decided to plan a party and has put everything together on his own. If it were up to me, I wouldn't have a birthday party this year. I'd pick some fabulous activity to do with my son - and my parents who are visiting - such as taking him to see the Walking with Dinosaurs experience that I know will keep him glued to the edge of his seat. Sure, we can still do both.
But, in order to get across to my son the impact of the financial stressthat everyone is having to deal with - on some level - I was hopingto include onour invitations that no presents are necessary. I think having his friends'presence, instead, would be much more meaningful. After all, I know five months from now my son won't remember which toy he received from whom but he will remember who was there to celebrate his special day.
I expressed all of these ideas to my ex-husband. We typically get along great, sharing in our son's life as much aspossible and communicating often so that we're aware of what's going on in school and at each other's homes.
This morning I touched a nerve when I requested that our son invite each of the children from his class. He's been having difficulty getting along with one boy, in particular, and he mentioned that he didn't want to invite him to the party.
Working with families and helping parents and educators deal with children who are going through a challenging period makes me more sensitive to those who have trouble communicating and expressing their emotions. I know that this is the type of child that my son wants to exclude from his party but I would hate to see that happen.
My ex-husband feels otherwise. He thinks it's perfectly acceptable to exclude this boy from the celebration. We argued about it and I tried to explain my position but ended up in tears. I was trying to defend myself while my son's father yelled and belittled me. He claims that I am choosing another child over my own and that if we invite this boy and he ruins our son's party that he will hold me personally accountable and will never forgive me. He even went so far as to say that he hopes our son never puts his trust in me. Ouch.
I hesitated to blog about this, at first, but after venting on Facebook and receiving some positive feedback, I want more. I want to know if perhaps I'm in the wrong here. Perhaps I should exclude this boy and "punish him" (my ex-husband's choice of words) for being a bully.
My argument was that hewould be even more of a bully if he were to find out he was the only one not invited to theparty when he's already feeling isolated by the children who verbally express their unwillingness to play with him or be his friend.
Let me also say that these kids are 4 and 5 years old. They're just now learning how to communicate, how to work together and how to get along. They're still figuring things out. I want to give this boy the benefit of the doubt. I want to give him another chance to make things right and include him, regardless of his actions and behavior from the past.
I was taught to treat others like we want to be treated, to turn the other cheek and to forgive and forget. I want to pass down these same lessons to my son butsuddenly I'm feeling unsure, doubting my decisions and my parenting skills. As someone whoworks with parents, this is not a good thing to be experiencing.
What is your opinion of this situation? How would you feel if you wereaparent of a child excluded from a birthday party? How would you explain to your own child why it's important to love, unconditionally? Is it too late to get the pointacross to an adult who typically sees the glass as half-empty?