Dr. Sharon Ufberg and her three children offer advice about family, love and life. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have twin sons having their bar mitzvahs this year. My husband and I figured it made the most sense (financial and otherwise) to have a joint bar mitzvah for them — that way, we can throw one big party and the out-of-towners only have to make one trip this year. Everything’s gone great with the planning so far, but now there’s a giant hitch: My sons are telling me they want two different themes for the party. I know that this shouldn’t be the focus of their day, but it’s starting to consume the whole planning process. I’m looking for your advice about how to make this good for both of my boys. What do you think we should do? B.E., San Francisco
Jessica: It makes me happy to hear that your sons are excited about their bar mitzvahs and want to be involved in the planning process. I think you should express to the boys that having multiple themes may not make sense, and if they can agree on one, then they can help pick out all of the centerpieces and balloon decorations. Maybe this will help get their energy focused on making the theme super awesome, instead of fighting over the theme itself.
Alexis: This is an exciting time! Clearly it makes sense to have a joint bar mitzvah, given the logistics. The theme conflict aside, you need to offer each of your sons the opportunity to make decisions and participate in the day on their own, as individuals. This will give them a sense that they each — as individuals, not part of a twin unit — have had a say in the big day. It’ll also ensure that they get to celebrate their own Jewish adulthood. As far as the theme goes: Brainstorm a long list of options that each would be happy with, and you’re sure to find one. If all else fails, throw a party with a party theme — and honor their individual interests in other ways at the party (favors, etc.).
Saul: I must admit I understand why each of your sons would want his own theme for the bar mitzvah party, and I’m sure they have some overlapping interests that could make this an easier party planning process. It might be a good idea for each of them to utilize their individual talents at the service, as well. That way they get to highlight their uniqueness rather than their similarities.
Sharon: I totally understand the desire for your boys to have some part of their bar mitzvah day feel especially unique to each of them individually. I also hear your concern that the party not become the focus of this special time. Can you incorporate specific time during the party when each son is spotlighted? Perhaps different presentations or videos, or speeches from friends or Mom and Dad? Another option is to just let them have their two themes — they are two boys having one joint party — and make it all about both of them in that way.
Dr. Sharon Ufberg is a Napa-based radio host, journalist, consultant and integrative health practitioner. Her daughters live in San Francisco: Lawyer-turned-writer Alexis Sclamberg, 28 and married; and hair colorist Jessica Sclamberg, 26 and single. Saul Sclamberg, 24 and single, studies chiropractic in Los Angeles. Read more at http://r-2-cents.com.