The popular parenting website Scary Mommy recently posted an article reporting on the teen who skipped the “lame” Sweet 16 party her mother threw for her to attend the “awesome” party her dad crafted instead. The teen posted on Reddit to gather opinions about whether she was wrong for ditching her mom’s party. At the heart of the matter? The parents are divorced.
Determining Birthday Parenting Time
Just like child custody and parenting time, divorcing parents typically negotiate how their child’s birthday will go down every year. Just like major holidays and vacations, this notable day is usually outlined in the divorce agreement. Whether you switch off from year to year on who will have the child that day or whether you agree to celebrate together, there are plenty of options for making it work so the child feels loved and nurtured and you both get the time you want with your kid.
In the case of this Sweet 16 party, the child took on the power and wanted strangers to back her up. She announced on Reddit that her mom’s parties are always lame and involve too much family and a refusal to get her the peanut butter cake she loves best (because her brother is allergic to it). Apparently, the teen requested of her mom that her dad be the one to throw her a party for this significant milestone but this announcement “did not go over well.” So, the teen asked her dad to throw her a party anyway. The only thing missing: It sounds like the parents never spoke to each other.
Manipulation in Many Forms
Any parent of a teen can tell you that they’re at the mercy of their child’s fluctuating whims and developing personality. All that growth, the striving for independence, the pulling away is combined with still wanting to be cherished and nurtured. This makes the teen years hard no matter what kind of relationship you have, but when divorce is in the picture things get even more complex.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to point the finger at any one party. Is there parental manipulation happening or is the child the one who’s pulling the reigns? While it might feel like a teen is being deliberately manipulative and awful, it’s important to remember that they simply don’t have a brain that is developed enough to process more than the feelings about what they want.
Yes, many parents put their children in the position of choosing one parent over the other. This can result in serious consequences and difficulties for the child, including problems with self-esteem, depression, and mistrust. But some kids are guilty of pitting parents against each other too.
Get a Solid Divorce Settlement
The best way to safeguard against parental manipulation and underhanded parenting time moves is to make sure you have a clear and specific divorce agreement. Outlining all special occasions and how parenting time will work within them will make it clear when each parent has the child – for birthdays or otherwise – and what is permitted along the way.
Work with the experienced divorce lawyers at Femminineo Attorneys in Macomb to discuss what’s happening in your relationship. Schedule a consultation today.