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How to represent "split" family in church directory?
September 25, 2012 3:55 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are divorcing, have been separated for quite a while. We both attend the same church with our kids. Our church is getting ready to do a pictorial directory. I'm not sure how to handle this.

Clearly, we won't all be in the same picture. But it also doesn't seem right that one of us would get to have the kids in their picture, and the other one not. Especially since different groups in the church interact with each of us and the kids in different situations.

So in my opinion, the best option is for each of us to have a picture made with the kids. If someone looks through and thinks "huh, same kids" maybe they'll get the right clue on our situation? Or is it just weird?
posted by punocchio to Human Relations (25 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think both of you with the kids is a the best option -- the kids are part of both of your households, and should be in both of your pictures (and if the children's information is included in the book it should probably be listed under both of your names also).
posted by brainmouse at 3:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

It doesn't sound weird at all. It's nice that you're thinking through all the details.
posted by defreckled at 3:57 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

I phrased that terribly -- I mean 2 pictures, 1 with you + kids, 1 with her + kids (like you suggest), not both of you + kids in one picture.
posted by brainmouse at 3:58 PM on September 25, 2012 [5 favorites]

If someone looks through and thinks "huh, same kids" maybe they'll get the right clue on our situation?

The alternatives are either one of you gets the kids in the picture (which will make things confusing and awkward if someone wants to talk about the kids to the parent who doesn't have the kids in the shot,) or you and your soon-to-be-ex-wife are both in the picture with fake smiles and sad eyes. "huh, same kids" is the best of all possible worlds here.
posted by griphus at 4:03 PM on September 25, 2012 [16 favorites]

Opt for no pictorial.
posted by Kruger5 at 4:09 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that the best way would be two separate pictures, one with mom and kids and one with dad and kids.

Our church does this same kind of directory thing. This past year a couple got divorced and are in separate households but there was only one picture up - of them all together (a family photograph of better days) and it was just super confusing - are they back together again? are they living in one house?
posted by Sassyfras at 4:11 PM on September 25, 2012

That would alienate the kids, Kruger5. The last thing they need while their parents are divorcing is having to explain why there's no picture of their parents.
posted by griphus at 4:11 PM on September 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

i've dealt with this during my decade in a mall portrait studio. mom+kids and then dad+kids is the way we always solved it - be it for directories or christmas cards or pictures on the wall. it's a very normal solution.
posted by nadawi at 4:26 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can't be the only divorced family at the church, how are the others handling it?
posted by radioamy at 4:47 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

You all are still a family. Even if the dynamic changed. If you're all friendly, you can do one picture with two listings.

Or have the kids with each of you.

Don't over-think it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:17 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

+1 for the two pictures, both with all the kids, each with one parent. Something else to think of: do you want the kids dressed the same in both pictures, or differently? When my own church did our latest pictorial directory, we were all given appointments for our photos, so either try to get your two appointments together (for the kids in the same outfits) or different days (for different clothing).

You could also ask your church's clergy for advice on this: surely the church has had this question come up before!
posted by easily confused at 5:23 PM on September 25, 2012

I would go with two pictures, kids in both pictures, with different clothing and background if possible. It's not perfect, but nothing is. It seems like clearly the best option to me.
posted by Scientist at 5:33 PM on September 25, 2012

At the church I grew up with, there were at least a couple of families like this, and they all did the each-parent-with-all-kids thing. The only thing that always confused me was that there were two addresses and two home phone numbers for the kids (some of whom were my friends) and I never knew which one to call (this was before true joint custody was common, and most of those kids lived full time with their mom and had every other weekend visitation with their dads). Anyway, nthing that you should each take a picture with the kids.
posted by devinemissk at 5:47 PM on September 25, 2012

Clearly, we won't all be in the same picture.

Why not? Think of it as the kids' family picture in the church they're growing up in. You and your ex are still their family, so you should both be in their picture.
posted by headnsouth at 5:49 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Two pictures, please.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:02 PM on September 25, 2012

Why not? Think of it as the kids' family picture in the church they're growing up in. You and your ex are still their family, so you should both be in their picture.

Because maybe he doesn't want to be in the same picture with his ex and she may not want to be in the picture with him. There is no "should" here.

Yes, the kids' parents are still their family, but it's now a divided family. There's nothing wrong with the OP wanting a picture that accurately represents his situation.

I vote for two pics. I don't think it will be confusing to anyone.
posted by Sal and Richard at 6:08 PM on September 25, 2012

Why not?

some kids have a hard time really grasping "my parents aren't together anymore." showing up in family pictures together can be very confusing. it will be good for them to see that a family can mean all sorts of things as long as love is present.
posted by nadawi at 6:14 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heh. A lot of angst about something which is basically a sales promotion. The reason the photo studio provides a free pictorial directory to the church is that they make money selling you prints to send to the grandparents, etc. Same as they take school pix for free. So make your decision based not on what people will think, but on what pictures you might conceivably want reprints of. Which sounds like, kids with Mom, kids with Dad.
posted by beagle at 6:28 PM on September 25, 2012

You guys are your kids' family. You guys are a co-parenting unit. Unless you have some drama with your ex that can't be put away or resolved, then just take the picture together w/the kids. There's nothing wrong with that. It's admirable and mature because you guys have kids together and that's important.
posted by discopolo at 7:49 PM on September 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd vote everyone in the same picture, but you didn't say how old your kids are and that might change my answer. My parents did this when I was around 19 and my brother was 15, and it's a really awkward picture to look back on. But if we had been younger it might not be so weird.
posted by agress at 8:38 PM on September 25, 2012

This is how we handle divorced couples in our synagogue database. We have family records that contain individuals. Once a couple divorces, we create two separate one-parent households that contain the same children. So it's like the children have two single-parent families. Which is pretty much how it usually is in reality.
posted by thebazilist at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I used to do all sorts of things with my ex, till it became clear that my kids were confused or at least getting their hopes up or feeling uncertain/hopeful/happy. Now I do things separately. I think you should do two pictures, unless your kids are so old that you can have a conversation about what they would prefer.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:39 PM on September 25, 2012

I kind of hate those directories, mostly because I just don't circulate a lot of pictures of my kid to people Not Family. Which is likely paranoid of me, but I don't like an easy to access database of me, my kid, and our contact information just floating around out there. Not that it wouldn't be easy to find by someone who wanted to, but why make it easy?

Not that this helps you with your decision, but I think you've figured out that one pic with each of you with kids is good. I do like the idea of having them change outfits, too.
posted by emjaybee at 8:43 PM on September 25, 2012

I was a kid in this situation - about 13. We followed your solution. I remember it being actually one of the less weird and shitty parts of navigating the new family dynamics -- my impression was that yeah, my parents have new roles to figure out but that's their issue, we kids are clearly important to both of them (separately) and it would have been way, way worse to watch our parents try to fake it and do one together.
posted by dr. boludo at 9:13 PM on September 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

See that's what I love about AskMeFi, even the oddest little question can bring out some great perspectives from people. My kids are 11 and 10 by the way.

Although I understand the salesy aspect of the photos, the directory will help newcomers (and heck even oldcomers like me) figure out who is who in the broader church family.

At least for the purposes of this directory, I'm going with the kids with me, kids with their mom pics. To discopolo's point, I am anticipating that when it comes to other snapshots like school events, eventually weddings, etc. their mom and I will be in the same picture as the "co-parents" but not spouses.

Thanks all!
posted by punocchio at 1:12 PM on September 26, 2012

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