A Bar/Bat Mitzvah is a truly happy occasions, a milestone, and a time when parents beam with pride and joy. But for many divorced couples, planning the event can turn what’s supposed to be a really fun, happy occasion into another source of stress, a reason to argue and resent each other, and even sadness.
But, according to event planner, Debbie Tucker (who I just love and trust dearly) it doesn’t have to be that way! Tucker works with divorced couples frequently, and said although sometimes she feels more like a mediator than an event planner, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah usually turns out to be a lovely, memorable event IF divorced couples remember this: What they are planning isn’t about their divorce, but about the one person they both truly the most: their 13 year old.
Here is Tucker’s guest post. Keep in mind, this divorce advice is applicable to all events, including your son/daughter’s communion, graduation party, birthday party, and even your son/daughter’s wedding!
Lifecycle Events-Divorce Style by Debbie Tucker
Planning a mitzvah is a joyous life cycle event to share with family and friends to celebrate the milestone your child has reached. It is important to keep that in mind, especially when you and your ex are arguing about the guest list, food to be served and theme of the party.
The role of an event planner is to help each parent keep their minds on the common goal, putting their feelings for each other aside and focusing on the needs and wants of their child. I have done this by having each parent express his or her wishes directly to me, instead of confronting each other. I have become a mediator of sorts, and listen to much more than the mitzvah from each side, (which I don’t mind at all) but all the while keeping each parent on task.
What’s your vision?
As a planner who works with divorced couples, I ask each of them what elements are important to them. It could be the video montage for the dad or the sweet table for the mom. If there is an established budget, we can manage this by listing all of the elements involved in their celebration from temple fees to prizes. We can then incorporate each parent’s vision in a realistic line item in the budget.
You’re not inviting him!
You may come across some people on your ex’s guest list who you just don’t like, don’t feel like they connect with your child or don’t belong. Try not to object to the others list as they want “their” people to be able to celebrate with them. Unless you anticipate them getting too drunk and out of control, leave it alone!
The extended family
Dealing with extended family can also be challenging, especially if you are in the midst of a divorce. Try to put your feelings aside, vent to your planner who can delicately address any issues you may have to your soon to be ex and try to come to an arrangement that you are comfortable with, perhaps no grandparent speeches, keeping seating tables far apart, and talking to the family in advance to just enjoy the day with the guest of honor and not meddle in whatever else is going on.
Unless you are already divorced, have been seeing someone a while and introduced your child to him/her, I would not suggest having this be your opportunity to showcase how well you are doing without your ex.
Preparing the montage
Going through 13 years of photos as a family can be painstaking, especially since you will be seeing yourselves as a family in happier times. There is no reason not to showcase that, circumstances change and people grow apart, that’s the way it is. So showing the beautiful photos of all of you as a family is something to celebrate. There is also opportunity to segment your montage with pictures of the child with just mom or just dad. This is a beautiful memento for your child to have forever, so enjoy reliving the past with your child.
In closing, no matter what your current marital status is, planning an event that involves family members can be stressful. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you can get through them if you do two things: put your child first, and get the help of an experienced planner who is sensitive to both parties needs and wants. I adhere to a practical approach to each event, trying not to let each parties emotions take over what task is at hand. Let’s make these moments count and enjoy the process! After all, your child will only have a mitzvah once in their lifetime.
Debbie Tucker, president of Eventure, LLC is a Northbrook based independent event planner with over 20 years in the industry, planning and producing events in the social, corporate and not for profit sectors. To reach Debbie, contact her at 847-877-7899 or firstname.lastname@example.org