a. be the bigger person and a good example to my kids and give him a card from the kids for his birthday
b. accept that we have lost a level of cordiality with each other permanently and not do anything except encourage the kids to make something for him on their own?
I already have the card, but I'm happy to not bother with a card. I just don't know if that's right to do in terms of setting an example for my kids.
I personally don't subscribe to the notion that it is setting a good example for my kids to do so.
Now if they ask me to help them make a card I do - they make him, me, their friends, the cats.... cards and 'letters' all the time.
It had nothing to do with her, in other words. I did it for the children.
Oh and of course after she received these she knew very well that it was I who'd gotten these. Nary a word of acknowledgment or god forbid a "Thank you."
My mantra #74: "I'm doing this for my children, I'm doing this for my children, I'm doing this for my children..."
(I do not expect she will reciprocate for my birthday and truly do not care.)
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
I say handmade from the children or nothing at all.
I don't want the same involvement as I did when we were married but think I should make it a priority to help guide my kids who are too young to have these ideas on their own, or just need some guidance.
Hope this helps.
If the kids know about his birthday, are excited about his birthday, and ON THEIR OWN want to do something, I wouldn't talk them out of it. However, your job of helping the kids have a relationship with him is OVER. You've already done too much, well above and beyond what he deserves, and it has always bit you in the ass.
Buying him a card and gift from the kids? That's one too many shit sandwiches for one person to have to eat. And when you're done with that shit sandwich....you had better save that ziploc bag, even though there is leftover shit inside of it, wash it out and re-use it, because it's the environmentally right thing to do.
I'm personally not a believer in "doing it for the kids", it sends a bad message about the family that you aren't, that people get to do bad things, and get rewarded anyway. Unless the kids are begging you to help them get something for their dad, which I somewhat doubt, but you need to take yourself out of the equation. Let them take the lead. IF they are so inclined, they can make him a card.
Personally, I think he deserves nothing better than a pair of skidmark underwear preserved in a ziploc bag. Nice and ripe, too.
You never know what the future holds and what if 10 years from now the ass is like "well, your mom never allowed you to get gifts for me" so some crazy crap.
I am sure it's happened.
I would go with your kids to get him a card or sit and help them make one.
And really - in your heart, know that its not for you, its not for him - its for the kids. Its the right thing to do for the kids.
The other reason I would do it is because OWife is there now and I guarantee you she will have her kids make him/buy him something. If your kids show up with nothing, they will feel threatened and terrible that the step kids made more of an effort than they did because, despite all the shitty things he's done, he is still their dad. They still don't want her kids getting too chummy with him and stepping on their toes - they are his kids and they should be able to feel as though that won't change even with these other brats standing in the way.
I would remind them that his bd is coming up and let them make their own cards or little hand made gifts. if they want to buy him a $5 box of candy at the local drug store, let them.
This is part of that high road that can suck the life right out of you. But, it's one of those things that I think is necessary and you know that I try to remain as NC as possible and I do not and will not ever consider my ex-wh a friend or anything close to it. If he doesn't want to reciprocate, the kids will get to see just one more shining example of your class and his selfishness.
If they are very young let them make or draw something and give it to him. Middle ages, ask what they want to do. Don't do it for them. Does he try to maintain a relationship with them? If there is no reciprocity they will realize on their own.
So I do the same.
Once in a blue moon, DD will hand-make him something but it is not an every year thing.
I think that first 1-2 years, I did remind them it was his birthday so they should call him. I do not do this any longer.
There were a lot of things that were hard to do (or not do) those first years, but I am so glad I took the path I did...as the years go on it makes it easier.