Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Topic of the Day: Blending Families During the Holidays

In case you were wondering how Gwyneth Paltrow and her new husband spent Thanksgiving last week, your wait is over: in addition to Paltrow’s kids, they also spent the holiday with Paltrow’s ex, Chris Martin, and his new girlfriend, Dakota Johnson, making Paltrow not only the Queen of lifestyle blogging but also the Queen of Post-Divorce Co-Parenting. She also has really, really good skin.

Anyway, I’m neither a former child of divorced parents nor a divorced parent myself, and it’s hard to say what I would do if I were one. Of course, I would prioritize my kids, but I’m not sure if that would include spending holidays with an ex. I think that would/could be especially difficult, but fucking kudos to those who are mature enough to do it and lucky enough to have amicable relationships with exes to facilitate such a thing. I don’t sit around too often thinking about what I’d do if I were divorced, but if I WERE a divorced parent managing custody arrangements and, I think, if it were Drew’s turn to have the kids for Thanksgiving, I’d hightail it over to Paris for a long weekend of chocolate croissants and me time. Sure, I’d miss my kids, but I wouldn’t miss the turkey.

What about you? If you were the child of a divorced couple or are now a divorced parent yourself, how did/do you manage holidays? Have/would you ever spend a holiday with your ex (and each of your new partners) for the sake of your kids? Would you, like Gwyneth does, vacation with your ex and your kids all together?

21 comments… add one
  • alafair November 26, 2018, 2:53 pm

    It completely depends on the ex. I’ve spent more Christmases and holidays with my first ex than I can count. He’s family. I adore his wife…she does the virtual shopping for date nights with me. We’ve known each other for more than 24 years and we’ll always be friends and family. My college age son told me recently that one of favorite memories are of me and dad’s wife cooking in the kitchen together and laughing, and the feeling of comfort and love it gave him, knowing the 3 of us put everything aside to make it work for the kids. We have vacationed together, and for us it worked (we got separate suites and requested they were not right next door to each other. ) Because the kids are what’s important.

    The 2nd ex. who was abusive when drunk (which was often…) No. no holidays together, no cozy arrangements. He’s done the therapy for abusers and quit drinking over 10 years ago, but some things you dont forget.

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    • Dear Wendy November 26, 2018, 3:04 pm

      Your kids are lucky! What a wonderful gift you and your ex (and his wife) have been able to give them.

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  • K November 26, 2018, 3:20 pm

    My parents separated when I was 9 and divorced when I was 13. I’ve always done holidays with my mom’s family because my dad used to not really do anything for holidays. Now he and his girlfriend will have my aunt and her boyfriend over, and I was able to stop there this Thanksgiving before heading to my mom’s family’s. My boyfriend’s parents are also divorced, and his mom lives over 4 hours away, so he usually spends more holidays with his dad, although he used to go up to his mom’s for Thanksgiving more often than for Christmas. It can be stressful, especially because my mom acts like she has every right to spend every holiday with me, and lately my dad has been pushing back and saying “We call dibs for next year!” and things like that. Being an only child makes it even harder to deal with…!

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  • Miss MJ November 26, 2018, 3:30 pm

    We did two Christmases, etc. when I was a kid due to the distance between where my mom and dad lived. Now, as an adult, we’ve done different things. Sometimes, we go to my in-laws. But, when I’ve hosted, both of my parents came and it was fine. They get along pretty well. I’ve never had any issues with birthdays, graduations, holidays, weddings, etc. where they can’t be in the same room or whatever. If the goal is to make divorce easier on the kids, then I firmly believe that parents have to suck it up, put on a smile and be willing to stand each other (or at least each others’ presence) for a couple of hours during holidays and at milestone events.

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  • Howdywiley November 26, 2018, 3:40 pm

    My mother is my dad’s second wife. He has a son with his first wife as well as my sister and I from his second. Growing up, his first wife and son were together with us at every holiday. We were together all the time. I never understood the dynamics and always thought his first wife was maybe like my aunt..? I would actually spend some of my summers staying with my dad’s first wife. She loved me like a daughter. I knew she was my brothers mom though, but the idea or concept of a “half sibling” never meant any difference. We were all just a very close family.
    I am grateful for that.
    Now as an adult, I realize that they actually can not stand each other. It was all just for us kids to be close and secure. It’s actually very funny now realizing that the first wife can not stand my mom at all! My mom can not stand her either, but that put that all aside because the more love and family the kids got the better. They were all so mature about it.

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  • Easygoing November 26, 2018, 5:36 pm

    I had 17 people at my house for Thanksgiving including my ex and his wife. We have two teenage children and coparent both. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving. His wife is great and doesn’t have family so she enjoys being a part of my side of the family. We all made some good, new memories! She and I laughed about how our friends think it’s “weird”, but we think it’s a good thing. So happy all of us don’t have to deal with ex “drama”. That would be awful….especially for our children.

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  • Ange November 26, 2018, 6:21 pm

    First of all I call bullhonkey on Gwyneth having good skin, with all her woo she still looks like she could use about 6 litres of water (for her skin AND her hair) lol.

    Secondly because all my family are so spread apart I tended to do the holidays with whoever was closest. One year I knew my dad was by himself so my husband and I went and visited with him, same with my mum. Now both of them have plenty of family and friends around so I don’t worry so much. My mum lives super close to me now so we’ll be there again. Aussies only have Christmas to worry about so there’s a lot less to think about logistics wise.

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  • gigi November 26, 2018, 7:37 pm

    I have spent holidays with my ex & his (now ex) wife. It was awkward at first & I know she didn’t really like me for awhile. But she had been part of all of our lives well before our divorce so it became easier. After they split we continued being friends & would all (even the ex) have dinner together occasionally. She & I have vacationed together with the kids as well. My kids still house sit for her & spend time with her. It’s interesting to try to explain to outsiders!

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  • Risa November 26, 2018, 8:18 pm

    Growing up with divorced parents we did multiple holiday events for each holiday. My Dad never forgave or got over my Mom so fighting was usually part of every holiday.

    I’m divorced now and while we aren’t perfect and we’re not to the point where we share holidays together we all work really hard to make sure our kid knows they are loved. We have holidays written into the divorce papers “just in case” but we play each year by ear and try to give each other the time needed to see family and friends.

    It took a lot of sucking it up and taking the high road to get to the co-parenting relationship we have now. I was lucky to know first hand how it feels when people can’t put their personal issues aside and work together for the kids.

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  • JD November 26, 2018, 9:53 pm

    I can easily see my husbands ex being with us for xmas, although now that she secretly got married that would be even weirder (also still wonder why she secretly got married but that mystery likely will never be solved). Husband would be far less interested in this though I am sure of that. To be clear, I wouldn’t “want” it per say but if it was right for son I would do it. I speak to her more than husband does these days, he tends to just answer questions if needed without further conversation. I doubt it will come to that though.

    I think it would be super awkward if husband was touching me or something. We are insanely touchy people and I think i would feel so awkward if he put his arm around me or something in front of her….like I was doing something wrong. haha

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    • Ange November 26, 2018, 10:08 pm

      She secretly got married now? The woman is a rollercoaster…

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      • JD November 27, 2018, 8:15 am

        Ya we accidentally found out because her new name showed up on something husband received. Didn’t even tell the kid the man he spends time with is now his step father. So freaking weird.

      • Kate November 27, 2018, 8:58 am

        One trick I use when I want my marriage to stay a secret is not change my name.

      • JD November 27, 2018, 9:20 am

        Haha right @Kate.

      • JD November 27, 2018, 9:22 am

        He asked her about it and she was so offended “how did you find out?? Stop stalking me!” Ha. Or pay your taxes do we don’t get the bill crazy lady.

  • CET November 27, 2018, 10:02 am

    My parents divorced when I was 4 and they still hate each other. They did not communicate well when I was a kid. They both put my brother and I in the middle. They both bad mouthed each other. My mom had us for every holiday and would not share. My dad remarried and his wife’s daughters became more important to him than his own kids…or that is how he always behaved. If I were to divorce I would NEVER act like my parents did…it would be my goal to work well with my ex and never make things awkward for my kids. My mom is 70 now and will still badmouth my Dad …in front of my kids no less…their grandpa! I tell her to stop and she acts bewildered and hurt and mad at me. She’s so f****ing immature STILL. It’s ridiculous.

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    • K November 27, 2018, 2:12 pm

      @CET my mom still badmouths my dad. My dad cheated on her, so I get it, he was a jerk. But I’m really close with him and I’d appreciate it if she would stop making snide remarks about him still, 25 years later. It makes me feel awkward and there are times when I haven’t even mentioned spending time with him because she has acted jealous in the past that I’m seeing him for lunch and not her, for example. Meanwhile if he didn’t want to spend time with me, she’d berate him for that, so can’t win.

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    • anonymousse November 27, 2018, 2:38 pm

      My mom is like that. They divorced 34 years ago and both remarried and she still badmouths him at any opportunity. Not to say he’s a great guy or dad. I actually had my dad here for Thanksgiving and I am not telling my mom because she is such an immature drama queen.

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      • K November 27, 2018, 4:29 pm

        I can definitely relate to that. If I told my mom I wanted to spend a holiday with my dad, she’d fly off the handle. Meanwhile, the relatives on her side of the family that I see at holidays (aunts, uncles, cousins) I see multiple times per year, so it’s not like I only have the opportunity to see them at the holidays.

  • Steph November 27, 2018, 10:48 am

    Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith also have an excellent relationship with the mother of Will Smith’s oldest son. It’s refreshing to see parents putting things aside and doing what is best for their kids.

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  • AuntyDote November 27, 2018, 2:25 pm

    My ex (of many years) is still included in our Christmas celebrations. It’s been uncomfortable at times, but my family loves him like the family he still is, and my kids are so happy to have him there. It’s worth sucking it up for an evening to allow all of these people to spend a holiday together.

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