Navigating Divorce in B Mitzvah Planning | MitzvahMarket | MitzvahMarket

Navigating Divorce in B Mitzvah Planning

Navigating Divorce in B Mitzvah Planning

“I think what helped me most was to just stay laser-focused on the purpose of the day – to allow my kid to shine and to celebrate his/her accomplishments (I have a boy and a girl and I took this approach with both kids’ mitzvahs). This allowed me to set aside any negative or sad feelings I may have had about any of the dynamics surrounding the divorce and just do what would mean the most to my child. Ultimately, both days were peaceful, joyous and fun and I do feel part of that is because I didn’t let my own “stuff” about the divorce play a role in the day.” – Liz Berman, Mom of a 15- & 17-year-old

Planning a B Mitzvah puts everyone’s stress on high alert. Regardless of the parental situation, there is so much to do and a deadline to get it done. Once you add in divorce and inevitable family drama, the focus of your magnificent day can get skewed.

“As someone who has a contentious relationship with their ex, I would recommend setting the budget and guest list as early as possible. Set up the expectations for speeches. Be as gracious as possible to the other side of the family, especially when it comes to honors during the service. Do your own Aliyah; there is no need to share that with your ex. Finally, always put your child first because this day is about them.” – Anonymous, Mom of 14-year-old

So how do you do this? Remember this day is about your child, not you or your ex. Your child has been working hard to learn their Torah portion and is becoming a Jewish adult.

Always Put Your Kid First

This is the most important part of everything, every day, and the best place to begin when planning a B Mitzvah. Your child is busy studying – most likely nervous – and undeniably dealing with all the challenges of adolescence as well. They don’t need more stress in their lives, especially around this Simcha. Try letting your child take the lead on what they want and whom they want to be part of their big day.

Be The Grown-Up In The Room

It’s hard to set aside contentious feelings with your ex, especially when planning a big event where money wields power. But remember you want your child to have the best experience possible, and fighting will upset them. Ask yourself if forcing what you want (especially if your child does not care) is about making their day ideal or about “winning”. Be an example of the graciousness you want your child to show to others and stay focused on championing your child’s wishes, not yours.

Delegate What’s Important To Each Parent

Inevitably, parts of the B Mitzvah will be important or unimportant to you. There is beauty in indifference because it can be outsourced. This will help curtail the invisible load of mitzvah planning by parsing stuff out. If things overlap, try to choose fairly. This is a perfect way to keep the peace and also a way to separate power and autonomy as you can “own” your portion. Just remember – it is about your child’s vision of the day and creating the day they want.

Agree On A Budget Upfront

Money often ignites arguments. When dealing with a B Mitzvah – usually expensive – your event can get completely out of control financially. It’s best to discuss upfront what the overall budget is and what each person will be contributing based on their ability. Keep in mind, all parts have value – money AND time.

Build Parameters And Stay Within Them

Planning a B Mitzvah can spiral once your child starts attending others’ parties and sees all the bells and whistles at different parties. Remember, it’s ok to say no. Additionally, while this event is incredibly meaningful, it is just one day – and you still have to pay your mortgage tomorrow. It’s important to be on the same page with your parameters, lest your child go to one parent and then the other to get what they want.

Make Space For Stepparents

As hard as it may be to swallow, if your child has a special relationship with a parent’s new partner, they should be part of your child’s day. This could mean inclusion in candle lighting, standing up during a parent’s speech, or for an Aliyah. Equally, if your child does not have a close relationship with a parent’s new partner, or does not want to include the new partner, honor that as well.

While both may be hard to accept, go back to making this day meaningful for your child which includes surrounding them with their important people on their special day. This is their day and forcing someone upon them is unfair.

Your Child Deserves A Family Picture

Capturing a picture of your child’s entire family together is one of the most important things you can do for them. This will be one of the most valuable keepsakes of the night and something they will look at for decades. Let your child dictate who should be in this picture. Equally keep in mind that even if you don’t want to stand next to an ex, the ex is still your child’s parent – which will never change – and your child deserves a picture with their parents. 

In Conclusion

At the end of the day, your child’s B Mitzvah should have an audience of one – your child. This day is about their hard work, self-pride, and the smile at the end of the night because this was the best day of their life. Keep returning to this mantra. Anything else will just take the beauty away from this moment. Plus it goes so fast, focus on the good and be sure YOU stop to take in the enormity of the day.

Stacey Wallenstein is the founder of the parenting, lifestyle, and travel blog The Mint Chip Mama. Visit her website at and find her across all socials at @themintchipmama.


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