Q. My fiancee wants to invite her child’s godfather to our wedding. Problem is her child’s godfather is also her ex. I can tell it’s the child that keeps them in contact. He’s very close to her, but I’m wondering if it’s really necessary that he come to our wedding. What’s good ex-etiquette?
A. As I have said before, good ex-etiquette is based on good behavior after a break-up. The easiest way to ensure that good behavior is to base your decisions on the children involved. (Ex-etiquette for Parents rule No. 1, “Put the children first.”) I hope you plan to include your bonus daughter in your wedding ceremony — it’s important that she not feel left out of the festivities.
Truth is, with today’s custody arrangements life is not as predictable as it once was. All sorts of new relationships are formed when you share your life with someone who has children. You and your new wife may add to your clan. That means your parents may become involved with your wife’s children as your child’s sibling. They will be bonus grandparents, there will be additional aunts, uncles and cousins – all sorts of relationships no one expected.
A child’s godparent who is also an ex is another unexpected relationship. That’s why it’s up to you and your new soon-to-be-wife to create the life you both want and reinforce the new relationships that work for your family. The beauty of creating a bonus family is it’s your family, and as unconventional as it may seem, if you and your fiancee decide it’s appropriate to invite your fiancee’s child’s godparent who happens to be your wife’s ex, that’s your prerogative.
Truthfully, it’s not that uncommon to see an ex added to the guest list. As in your case, there may be obligations that keep the ex involved. This happens most often when the continued relationship is not based on the relationships of the exes, but how that ex continued to fit into the children’s lives after the break-up.
In your particular case I think the final determiner might simply be history and how the relationship has evolved to this point. I don’t know how your bonus daughter’s godparent fits into the scenario, but if he continues to serve as a godparent should, he very well could be the comfort the child needs during something as big as her mother getting married.
So, is it bad ex-etiquette if he attends? Although not a normal godparent responsibility, if his presence truly bothers you then that should be communicated to your fiancee in no uncertain terms. But, you said in your opening question that you can tell your fiancee’s relationship continues with him because of the child. If a child is put first, and his presence is a comfort to the child, then his presence is appropriate. Now it’s up to you to weigh what is the most important. That’s good ex-etiquette.
Dr. Jann Blackstone is the author of “Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation,” and the founder of Bonus Families, www.bonusfamilies.com.