These days, many Bat Mitzvah girls and Bar Mitzvah boys celebrate their special
day with only one of their parents at their side. This situation is
unfortunate and stressful, as even though most parents attempt to conduct
themselves in a manner that would be best for their child, there are bound most
often, to be unhappy considerations.
For example. Does the mother invite the ex,
her child's father to the ceremony in the synagogue? Who should be honored with
the Aliyah's? Which parent will stand with child on the bima?
Every case should of course be decided upon based on
the particular circumstances, but parents are urged to try as hard as they can
to put their own feelings aside and do what would be most comfortable and
acceptable to their child.
If at all possible and palatable to all involved, it
would be best to have both parents there for the child. Regardless of who
has physical custody of the bar mitzvah boy or who plays a larger role in the
childs life, and irrelevant of who pays for the even, one must remember
that a parental bond cannot be severed. Its a fact of biology. Having
both parents at the service may be important to the bar mitzvah boy.
Giving an aliya to a father is a traditional honored
custom at bnei mitzvah ceremonies. So it may be worth tolerating an exs
presence and giving him an aliyah. But its not a must. If the divorce is still
fresh, the wounds are still deep, and the hurt is still burning, or when the
presence of both parents may lead to an altercation and an embarrassment to the
child, or if one or both parents are remarried, and the new spouses are not
liked by the child and will cause them grief or shame and detract from the
enjoyment of their special day, find other solutions.
Some kids celebrate their bar and bat mitzvahs
twice. (They may read the Torah at one, and only receive an aliyah at the other,
or just repeat their speech or performance.) Some may go to Friday
night services with one parent, and be the guest of honor at the Oneg Shabbat
after-service social. Then theyll spend the Saturday service and read the Torah
with the other parent. Some will have the ritual service with one parent and a
party celebration with the other. Other options include having the service
and party with one parent and taking a bar mitzvah trip with the other.
There are many ways to keep the peace. Involve your child in the decision, and
be sure to make him or her as comfortable as possible. No guilt trips!
Treat your twelve year old girls and thirteen year old children as adults and
with respect. There are many ways to keep the peace and honor this great
occasion. Choose one. With care. Mazal Tov.
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