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My brother and his ex-wife separated a year and a half ago. They are both over it and would never get back together. They have a 12-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy whose custody they've shared without much conflict since then. The kids, while certainly affected, remain fairly happy.

Now, my brother plans to take the kids to a theme park for a weekend. Last time they were at one the family was still complete and happy, and they all had a wonderful time and share a great memory of it. So, inevitably, the idea of inviting his ex to come along with them has crossed my brother's mind, in hopes of giving their kids one more (and probably last) memorable childhood experience shared with both their parents.

But here's his (and everyone else's) obvious doubt:

Is it a good idea at all? Or it would only confuse their kids and create the chance of ruining the experience for all?

Thank you for your insights!

UPDATE (after replies): For the record, finally the mum joined her ex and children, and everything went perfectly well - as it should. So… Success! and no regrets.

  • How do the kids feel about the prospect? – aparente001 Nov 23 '16 at 6:20
  • Hi aparente, Good question! They do not know about it yet. It's a surprise gift, apparently. :) – Alberto Nov 23 '16 at 10:38
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I wouldn't beat around the bush. Tell them straight what is happening.

At ages 12 and 10 the children are certainly old enough to understand that their parents want them to have a great time on a holiday together. They can be told that it's not about their parents getting back together, just about having a good experience and building good memories. Nothing more.

This will also help the children in later life as it will help them see that sometimes, you can be friends with someone you used to be more with, something very few people seem to get in my experience.

And if all else fails, heed the advice of Mrs Doubtfire: You know, some parents, when they're angry, they get along much better when they don't live together. They don't fight all the time, and they can become better people, and much better mummies and daddies for you. And sometimes they get back together. And sometimes they don't, dear. And if they don't, don't blame yourself. Just because they don't love each other anymore, doesn't mean that they don't love you. There are all sorts of different families, Katie. Some families have one mommy, some families have one daddy, or two families. And some children live with their uncle or aunt. Some live with their grandparents, and some children live with foster parents. And some live in separate homes, in separate neighborhoods, in different areas of the country - and they may not see each other for days, or weeks, months... even years at a time. But if there's love, dear... those are the ties that bind, and you'll have a family in your heart, forever.

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    That's it! I knew the answer to our doubt had to be along those lines, but you have expressed it so beautifully. Thanks very very much, Stephen. (Or should I thank Mrs Doubtfire? ;)) Now I have to translate this all for my bro! (we're Spanish). Cheers guys! – Alberto Nov 23 '16 at 10:58
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I'm not an expert but I lived this situation myself.

As far as the parents hang out well, and never argue, that's ok, otherwise it'll turn good days into nightmares ( the chance of ruining the experience is there, so if it's a violent separation I would avoid this experience ) .

Anyway, in my opinion, doing this kind of experience too many times in a row could confuse the kids so it's better to limit these occasions.

They could just give it a try, for once, and then decide.

Hope that I helped, best regards

  • Did you live it as a parent or as a child? The parents do not remain "friends"… but, as far as I know, they've never fought, nor even argued, in front of their kids. They've been extremely tactful in that respect, and I'm sure they'd remain so and keep their cool. (Otherwise they would never consider making/accepting the invitation, methinks!) I do appreciate your opinion, anyways. Thank you, A. – Alberto Nov 23 '16 at 10:42
  • I used to live this situation as a child and since my parents used to argue a lot, it was strange to see them in the same place – A.Danzi Nov 23 '16 at 13:11
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I would suggest a trial run when the stakes aren't so high, in other words for a shorter, less expensive outing. (Something with less potential for disaster and less emotional thrill payoff, in other words.) If that goes well, then everyone can feel more confident heading into the weekend theme park outing.

It seems unlikely that there is enough time available between now and the special weekend to do that in a comfortable way. Therefore my answer would be no, it is premature to include the mother for this particular outing.

Another aspect of this is that the threesome (kids, father) need an opportunity to do some special bonding together to find their new equilibrium with each other. A special outing like this could be a great opportunity to do that.

One last consideration is that while surprises are nice, it is also good to look for opportunities for a child to be involved in decision making. Obviously there are some decisions that a child can't be involved in -- such as whether to separate, whether to live together, whether to marry, whether to divorce. But whether to go to XX Park together -- eventually, after the shorter trial run has been gotten through successfully -- this strikes me as a decision a child could be permitted to have a voice in.

One good way of doing that (next time around) would be to reveal the special outing in advance, and then wait and see if kids ask if they can invite mother.

  • The question was whether this would be a good idea, and I read this answer as "don't know but here's a way to experiment with it" -- which seems to me to be Not An Answer. Please edit to be more directly responsive. – Acire Nov 23 '16 at 19:41
  • @Erica - I attempted to make my position more explicit. – aparente001 Nov 23 '16 at 19:48
  • It's still a very sensible and well backed up point. You got my upvote. Thanks a lot, aparente! (And sorry. I never logged in again after getting the previous replies - til today.) – Alberto Aug 21 '17 at 9:12

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