'According To Him + Her': Should You Attend Your Ex Stepchildren's Birthday Parties?

Life & Love | Bené Viera | 08/26/2014 | 09:00 AM EDT

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Breakups are already difficult and sometimes complex. Add having to breakup with your ex’s children to the equation and there’s sure to be some sticky situations.

Ideally two people who’ve broken up can be mature adults and handle all future encounters accordingly, but love isn’t always so neat. When the breakup is messy or one person still has feelings for the other it’s hard for everything post-breakup to run smoothly. Understandably.

“According to Him + Her”
will tackle whether or not you should still go to your ex-stepchild’s birthday party and buy the child school clothes. The answer? It depends.

There are several factors to consider, which is why introducing children to significant others who may not always be around must be thoughtfully considered.

Showing up to your ex stepchild’s functions should be based on two primary factors: Were the two of you married and how long did you know the child?

If you were not married, together for a long time and the children are still young there’s no reason for an ex to still behave as a significant other. This means no buying school clothes, no finding an excuse to show up at the child's dance recital. Moving on and detaching sooner rather than later is ideal for the child to readjust.

Unfortunately, breakups often mean breaking up with your ex’s friends and family too.

If you weren’t married, but were together for 15 years and his or her children know you in a step-parent capacity, showing up to birthday parties or graduation should be OK with the discretion of both the child and the child’s biological parents.


Marriage means you were a stepmom or stepdad, which should mean you loved the children as your own. It’s best to work out an arrangement to still see the kids with your ex and their other biological parent. Kids shouldn’t have to deal with the absence of a parental figure they’ve grown to love just because it didn’t work out between the adults.

And what happens when an ex should happen to move on? Will the new girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife be OK with the ex coming around for the kids only? Some will, some won’t.

No two situations are the same. Best thing to do is keep in mind children are involved. Children need stability. Everyone should be working in the best interest of the kids. All other emotions, ill feelings and desires are second to the common goal of the kids’ well being.

(Photo: Hero Images/Corbis)

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