Parenting dilemma: When dad’s new wife attends the holiday celebration

Dilemma: My ex and I will be spending Christmas (our first one as a divorced couple) together as a family for the kids. However, he is bringing his new wife, saying she is part of the family now. How do I get through the entire awkward day without losing my mind or ruining the special day for the kids?

Every Friday at 8:10 p.m., readers meet on Chicago Parent’s Facebook page to help solve parenting dilemmas. 

“As a single parent, my son lights up when both parents are enjoying the same event together even if they bring someone. You have to put your big girl panties on and show your kids that they have a family that loves them.” — Candace W. 

“Don’t do it! You should split the holidays every year. One gets Eve and one gets Day. It’s really bad to spend it together with a new spouse. It’s not right for the kids to do this combination Christmas.They are now in two distinct families. You are divorced and no longer a whole family in terms of holidays.” — Peggy R.

“Try to get to know her. As tough as it may be, she will be spending a lot of time with your children and you will want to know the person who is helping shape your kids into the people they will become. Stay strong, mama.” — Kyra P.

“That sounds ridiculous. First Christmas after a divorce and he’s already remarried and wants you and the kids to just deal? Forget that.” — Jenny B. 

“Props to you on making the effort for the children! I would just ignore her – not rudely or disrespectfully – but don’t go out of your way to include her either. Focus on the kids and their joy. With the hustle, bustle, and distraction of the holiday, lack of interaction should work. Good luck. The first one is the worst.” — Savannah G.

“Set your emotions aside and remember how much love is in the room for your kids. You are a team, like it or not. Suck it up, have a drink (but not too many) and make it through the day.” — Jessica D. 

“It is too soon for your ex to flaunt your replacement in front of you. This is a situation of triangulation at its worst – the children will be positioned to choose between ‘moms.’ Why are you being forced to be around someone who makes you feel ‘awkward’ on such a joyous day? Why should your insecurity be on full display just so this woman can shine as ‘wife’ and new ‘mom’ while you sit by as the outsider? Not cool.” — Lala P.

“She’s there to stay, it sounds like, so I’d say keep an open mind – you might make a new friend and your kids will be so much better off if the whole holiday is peaceful.” — Catherine C.

“Life will be so much easier if everyone just gets along. Don’t fake it, be genuine. Kids see everything and you never know what they’ll take away from this day.” — Laura B. 

“Be yourself and comfortable in your skin! Focus on the kids and have a good friend that has your best interest at heart right there with you.” — Kandice S.

“Which is stronger – your love for your kids and your desire for them to have a nice Christmas, or your hatred for your ex/his new wife and the awkwardness that brings? If your love for your kids is stronger, you suck it up, bite your tongue and make the best of it. If the hate/awkwardness is stronger, you’re not doing your kids any favors, nor are you making things easier for them and you should probably call it off.” — Lisa B.

“It’s not about the parents, it’s about the kids. I’d happily welcome them into my home if I were in that situation. The past is in the past and the ex’s new wife is the kids’ family. Bite your tongue, deal with it, and show your kids what good co-parenting is.” — Amanda L.

“You don’t focus on him at all!! You focus on the kids. Distract yourself with games, crafts, and laughs with the kids, after all it is for them.” — Elle L.

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This article originally published in December 2019 issue. Read the rest of the issue. 

Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Chicago Parent Editorial Team
Since 1984, the Chicago Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for Chicagoland families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.
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