Q: Although I never married my ex, we were together for seven years. I was very close to his family, particularly his mother. Each Christmas we congregated at their home and exchanged gifts. Now that we have broken up, he has forbidden his side of the family to talk to me. Is it still appropriate to exchange presents? To make matters worse, I'm three months pregnant. His mother knows, but he's so difficult right now I haven't told him. What's good ex-etiquette?
A: There aren't just red flags here, these flags are red hot, starting with the fact that you told his mother you were pregnant before you told him.
It's not uncommon when people break up that they believe their family's allegiance should be with them and they find it insulting if family members want to continue to talk to the ex. You might want to take a break from gift giving this year. Let the dust settle and your ex calm down, and by next year, if you haven't reconciled, you will hopefully be able to be cordial for the sake of your child.
If you do decide to go forward with gift giving, make sure all gift exchanges are done with your ex's full knowledge. Meeting for lunch a few days before or possibly sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year's could be appropriate if done politely.
Now, for the elephant in the room — your pregnancy. Good ex-etiquette dictates that you tell the father immediately. You've put his mother in a terrible position by telling her first. If you and the father hadn't broken up, telling his mother first might have all been part of the way you announced the surprise — but you are not together, and that puts a whole new spin on it. Be ready with a sincere apology and then together discuss what needs to be done to lay the groundwork for positive co-parenting after the birth. That's good ex-etiquette.