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UBT Responds to Ex Dictating Where Kids Can Open Presents

Dear Chump Lady,

My ex, after a year and a half, thinks that we should still be buying joint gifts for the kids, and signing them from ‘mom and dad’.

I disagree and have sent him a request that I will be doing my own Christmas with the boys at my house and he should do the same at his place. I would like to start new traditions as my own self with the boys.

This year he is going away for three weeks with his Schmoopie (the OW). He will leave two days before his son’s birthday on the 24th and will not be there for Christmas. Apparently because I chose to not take a vacation with the boys, then he would do so instead on his own.

He insists that all gifts should be put under MY tree and he does not want to give his gifts or celebrate christmas beforehand with the boys — he will just drop his presents off at my place to put under my tree. I have declined this request, to which I receive this email from him:

“You can make any traditions YOU want for YOU. I’m suggesting the presents for the boys. If you don’t wan’t my presents under the tree, then I will make it very clear to them that is YOUR choice.

I will have my presents wrapped for the boys, and I will drop them off with them after dinner next Saturday. I will ask them to put them under the tree to be opened on Xmas morning as that is my preference. If you don’t agree with that, you can be the one to tell them “no, open them now”. This is about them….please don’t make it about us. I will give the boys the choice.”

Please tell me I’m right in insisting that this is insanity making!

Sane Mom

Dear Sane Mom,

You’re right. This is insanity-making. Your ex manufactures crazy like Henry Ford made automobiles.  Apparently, he’s unclear on the divorce concept. You’re not responsible for his holiday gift giving or impression management therein.

He doesn’t like it? Oh look what Santa left him under the tree! A big bag of Shut the Fuck Up.

Let’s put his email through the Universal Bullshit Translator.

You can make any traditions YOU want for YOU.

You can spend Christmas all alone in a cat sweater swilling appletinis to the Hallmark Channel. I really don’t give a Kris Kringle what you do for Christmas.

Christmas is about ME and maintaining MY TRADITIONs. Historically Christmas is celebrated by triangulating my family with my mistress.

I’m suggesting the presents for the boys.

And what a great help I am! I make suggestions! I even lifted a pen once and circled an item in a catalog. (Now I am fatigued. Bring me an eggnog.)

It is the job of wife appliances to do the purchasing, wrapping, and holiday gift logistics. Did the wife appliance get the wrong lego set? BAD wife appliance! I am blameless. I am merely the Holiday Suggester.

If you don’t wan’t my presents under the tree, then I will make it very clear to them that is YOUR choice.

If you do not obey me, uppity Wife Appliance, THE CHILDREN WILL SUFFER!

I will tell them that their suffering is YOUR CHOICE! You thrill to their pain! In fact, it is your NEW HOLIDAY TRADITION to punish them with my absence and the WRONG Lego sets!

I will have my presents wrapped for the boys,

And present you with half the bill. Because… Christmas. Also a surcharge for wrapping and 7.4 inches of cellophane tape. And $87.50 for the 9 minutes of my time.

You can pay this in advance of Christmas Eve. I will show up with some shit in a CVS bag.

and I will drop them off with them after dinner next Saturday.

Because I am magnificent this way. “Here boys, take these gifts from me and Schmoopie, put them under your tree and remember us on Christmas! We’re on vacation sunning ourselves on some distant isle, but still right here in your hearts, reminding you how we shattered your intact family.”

I will ask them to put them under the tree to be opened on Xmas morning as that is my preference.

Children don’t know that Santa left me a big bag of Shut the Fuck Up, so they will do my bidding.

If you don’t agree with that, you can be the one to tell them “no, open them now”.

Children just hate to open presents early.

This is about them….please don’t make it about us.

Am I putting you in a difficult, painful position? Don’t blame me. The CHILDREN did it!

I will give the boys the choice.”

I am just the Suggester. Children are the Deciders.

My preference is that I be the center of attention at your holiday celebration. The hair in your biscuit. The turd in your punchbowl.

I may be on vacation with Schmoopie, but I’m still there under your tree, and in your head.


CL back again. (The UBT is a corner gorging itself on lebkuchen.)

Sane Mom, this guys is a mindfuck and you are under ZERO obligation to honor his “preferences.” He’s a fruitcake laced with emotional razorblades. Return to sender.

Merry Christmas.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I always had a soft spot for the UBT, and now that I know it likes lebkuchen, my fondness grows. Have a good day, UBT, and may your sprockets never falter!

  • Tell your ex to fuck right off. Refuse his gifts being in your house. Let him know that YOU will tell the kids its HIS choice to fuck off on them at Christmas .let him know that his preference carrys fuck all sway in YOUR house. And then remind him to fuck off again.

  • He’s going away at Christmas on purpose to annoy and upset you.
    Really his presents shouldn’t be under your tree, if he loved his kids he would be there. The ow isn’t showing her best side either is she.
    He’s showing you what he’s really like.

    • If you put PRESENCE or MY PRESENCE in his letter where PRESENTS or MY PRESENTS are, then the mindfuck miraculously appears, much like invisible ink turning visible.

      Sweet smoking Jesus. Worse than Scrooge and the Grinch put together. Grooge. Scrinch. My brain is struggling for an adjective for this moron. Who would be in town for his son’s birthday and Christmas if he was thinking about his sons.

      I am so sorry. I’ll tell him to FO for you.


      • PS….Al Anon tool for you to use with the Tool…

        “BROKEN RECORD”….simple response you may need to keep saying over and over….such as

        “We are now divorced (as per your preference). I will be doing Christmas my way in my house and you do Christmas your way in your house.”

        Keep it simple. Keep the boundary. Be prepared for him to challenge it. Craft your simple response. Rehearse and be prepared to repeat it often like a broken record.

        And it’s no surprise that the Relationship Genius doesn’t know how to behave in a marriage OR a divorce….good riddance.

        • YES. The “Broken Record” technique. I was called all kinds of names and backlash, but over time it did end up working. As with anything, patience and time and steely resolve eventually pay off.

        • Totally agree! I told someone in this situation to send the page from the divorce decree that deals with the kids to their ex and remind him that this is the legal and binding contract “WE” agreed to when “we” got divorced. Keep it simple.

        • A big bag of Shut the Fuck Up is just what he deserves and worse. Much worse. (Good one CL!) He can have his Christmas with his kids in his house whenever that fuckwit can fit it in. Not Sane Mom’s job to help him out. No way.

          And what a shitty reminder for Sane Mom on Christmas to see her boys open gifts from that selfish turd and know he’s away on vaca with the whore who helped destroy her life. So wrong on so many levels. Just say no.

          • Wouldn’t he want to watch his kids open his presents so he can see their magical eyes light up at his awesomeness? That’s what i would also suggest.

    • Because Dad is going out of town for Christmas, why can’t the kids open their presents WITH him before he drops them off on Saturday? That way, Dad gets to enjoy watching them open his thoughtful expressions of love and provision. He can even take pictures that he can look back upon while he suns on the beach (or whatever) with Schmoopie. I know lots of divorced parents who refuse to allow their gifts to their kids (including socks/underwear) stay in their house–never to darken the door of the other parent. Why does he insist that they open his gifts under Mom’s tree? This guy has devised a way to take manipulation to a new yuletide level.

      Seriously, why is it out of the question that they open their gifts four days early?

      • CORRECTION: “I know lots of divorced parents who refuse to allow their gifts to their kids to ever darken the door of the other parent.” [Proofreading is never overrated.]

      • I suspect that the presents may be slightly disappointing for the children.

        Unless…..emotions make him uncomfortable and that’s why he’s avoiding emotional connection with his children.

        • Or his presents are seriously expensive, and intended to make whatever comes from Mom and Santa look like cheap crap.

          Dad gives them iPhones! And a New PlayStation with the latest games! And Chromebooks!

          Mom (who is still waiting for several child support checks) gives them some board games and books. Boring. And some hard candy with chewy centers. Yuk. And, um, “I wanna hook up the PlayStation! Can we, can we, plleeezzzze????”

      • Yes, it makes more sense to open gifts from their dad (and him to open anything from them to him) while they are together to exchange their thanks. His presents don’t deserve Christmas time with you! Otherwise, you could always get them to open gifts straight away after they are dropped off so they could phone their thanks before their dad’s departure. Hopefully, those presents will be old news by Christmas Day and you just can concentrate on your plans then.

    • This. His holiday is an attempted power move in retaliation for your setting of boundaries. Dare to make him lift a finger that also dashes the illusion that you still aren’t a tight unit after he roundly shat on his family? Oh what consequences this shall bring! I can see him on his tablet poking it hard with his swipes as he roars “I’ll show her!” and angry-books a cruise in the Bahamas. What a sulking child.

      • Or he was just selfish and didn’t care about what other people wanted as long as he and OW got their ultra romantic and intimate holiday?

        After all, he’s got an image to enhance and project. The kids live full-time with their mother, so why shouldn’t he live as if he doesn’t have children?

  • He tries to make this about you, but the whole reason this is an issue in the first place is that he decided to take a vacation on his son’s birthday and over Christmas. And, of course, his cheating was the original problem setting all this in motion.

    He seems to be unclear on the concept that your house is your house, and he doesn’t get to dictate what happens in it.

    I don’t know what course of action you’ll decide on, but I sure wouldn’t let him and his presents horn in on your Christmas morning.

    • It occurs to me this is yet another version of “It’s not what he does that’s a problem; it’s your response to it.”

      • While I wish the world worked this way, in my experience divorce attorneys and custody judges do not care at all about these kind of violations of custody orders. Unless the kids are clearly hurt by Dad’s presents (he gives them vials of anthrax and illegal weapons), all you’ll get from your attorney is a bill.

        • Yep. Just learned this one the hard way ????‍♀️. The plus side is that this attitude of the court’s also works in the Chump’s favor, like when the ex tries to bully you to include them in YOUR Christmas.The ex can complain to his lawyer and get a bill. The court isn’t going to enforce their whims.

  • KK must have coached him on how to write this.

    “This is what I want. I’ve made the decisions and established my priorities, and some of that falls in you. If you don’t go along, you’re an asshole. And the kids will know…”

    I can’t improve on CL’s advice. It’s triangulation. Don’t play that game. Be firm.

  • The *only* way I could think of this BS being ok is if your ex were actually a reasonable human being and you two had actually been able to coordinate a gift in good faith. Since he’s not acting in good faith, he can go fuck himself. (I feel like bad-faith = self-fuckery is a good formula for deciding who to deal with, all things considered.)

  • He has put you in such a sucky place, and there’s no easy way through this one. I think you know that the right way is to refuse his gifts inside your house. I would get in front of this now, well before the night the ex plans to spin his entitlement as your selfishness.

    In a similar situation with my kids, I talked with them about the boundaries that the divorce signifies. Divorce means that while we will always be their parents we are no longer a single family, but two families. As much as I didn’t want for that to happen, I had no choice when their dad decided to not follow the rules of being married. What he did hurt my feelings very much, and I was very sad that we could no longer be one family, but I will not let people be mean to me.

    Therefore, it is not ok for their dad to put his presents in our house because it is inappropriate for him to disrespect our family time, just as it would be inappropriate for me to disrespect his family time with them.

    My oldest expressed some “It’s not fair” sentiments about having two separate families. I agreed with her. It isn’t fair. It sucks. I wish it could have been different, but unfortunately it isn’t. I told her it’s ok to acknowledge that it sucks, but then it is best to find new joys. There is no going back to a time before we found out that he was lying and breaking his vows. No, it isn’t what we thought life would be like, but it can still be a wonderful life.

    My heart goes out to you, Sane Mom. It isn’t fair that you have to deal with this shit sandwich, but because you are mighty, you can do this.

    • Kharless, I love how you put that paragraph. Trying to keep it fair keeps the insanity going. Acknowledging it is acceptance. My daughter once asked me if we can be happy now. Yes. Absolutely we can. Because it depends on what you focus on.
      And for Sane Mom, this Christmas is about you. His presents equal his absence. Let the kids open them and put them away after they’re dropped off or notify him that you left them on the porch and he can do his Christmas when he returns, but keep your Christmas about your family and the happiness that can be had in you and your children.
      His wishes are irrelevant in your home.

      • They rely on us playing fair which is why they come up with these plans. But I’ve learned to be okay with being the bad guy cause it always ends up that his scheme fails.

    • > Divorce means that while we will always be their parents we are no longer a single family, but two families. As much as I didn’t want for that to happen, I had no choice when their dad decided to not follow the rules of being married. What he did hurt my feelings very much, and I was very sad that we could no longer be one family, but I will not let people be mean to me.

      This is an absolutely wonderful way of explaining the situation. I responded almost verbatim with my then-toddler kids, and they have now accepted that XW ‘broke the promise’ of being married as a default, and recognise that it isn’t fair. My (now) 6.5 year old can now accurately contextualise why his Dad was on the floor crying uncontrollably when he was only 3 years old, and why he then crawled on top of me to give cuddles and make me feel better.

  • He doubles down because not only is he triangulating his children with his mistress (and the kids’ Pick-Me-Dance isn’t done naked so they lose), he denigrates his EX-wife.

    “If you do not obey me, uppity (Ex) Wife Appliance, THE CHILDREN WILL SUFFER!”

    Screw that noise. Pass the rugelach too, please.

  • The only thing this person can do is get a friend or family member to deal with him. He will just keep trying to mind fuck her otherwise.

    E.g. tell him a date and time he can come to the home, but be out and have someone else deal with him

    • Preferably someone large and surly with a grudge and a Chump Lady style 2×4. Someone willing to call him a fuckwit to his face. These cheaters are so used to bullying their spouses but shrivel in the face of the condemnation of others.

  • I be a dissenting chump here. Let your ex drop off the gifts and you put them somewhere away from the tree in a special box/basket labelled “from Dad”. Segregate the presents from the POS and your kids will pick up on the Daddy is not here and Daddy’s gifts are not with the rest of their family’s gifts. Your ex does not have to be part of the actual “family Christmas” gift exchange. They will pick up on the Daddy doesn’t do Christmas with Mommy’s family and Daddy doesn’t do Christmas with his own children. Even if he is a thoughtless, spineless, absent father your kids are still entitled to his meagre tokens of parenting. His gifts for your kids should be accepted on their behalf but you have no obligation to make them part of your family holiday traditions.
    The first Christmas after he dumped me my x had me driving all over town trying to find a misdirected UPS package for my youngest. I only did it for my kid. Funny thing the kid thanked me not the POS for actually doing the legwork to track it down. POS was on my cell haranguing me constantly until I got the damn package in time for Christmas. Funny thing he did NOT use a phone to actually talk to his child on Christmas day. All the time in the world to harass his wife but not a single moment to communicate with his son.
    I’d put a picture of your ex on the segregated gifts along with a picture of his vacation spot just to be clear to your kids that Daddy would rather be in Aruba (or where the hell ever) than with them.

    • She doesn’t have to accommodate this guy. And all the other stuff you mentioned is frankly, crazy.

      I really doubt putting a picture of the ex on the “segregated” gifts along with a picture of them on vacation screams stable. Better to just keep it a simple no, let him handle his own Christmas, and not make a big thing about it.

      • The kids are going to be manipulated. You can help to mitigate that. Go silent on the topic immediately. No kibbles for the narcissist to pounce on. Let him give the boys the gifts and then you put them into a closet as suggested. Next time he comes to pick up the boys give him back the bag. If the boys wonder why they’re unopened in the closet just say you’re keeping them safe because Dad is going to be gone for so long. Then say nothing more.

        Kids just want you to keep them away from the conflict. You want to keep your house and holiday fuckwit free. You can do both. Silence is the first step.

        • I agree with @Sunrise. There’s no way Sane Mom can prevent him from dropping off a sackful of presents – because in a nonreciprocal relationship you can’t get someone do something he isn’t inclined to do, no matter how right you are about it – but in the same vein he can’t force Sane Mom to incorporate his presents in her Christmas. Throwing the presents away would be obnoxious to the kids, so keep them on ice and give them back to him when he picks up the kids, and let him figure out what present-opening ritual he wants to engage in.

          I established separate Christmases successfully pretty early on, but stuff from XW’s house still makes its way over to mine every once in a while (paraphernalia from AP-cum-husband’s hometown, things from ex-in-laws, etc.) I have a transfer bag, used for shuttling things to XW’s house, and I just quietly stick them there. The kids never remember, and I rarely see those things again. Plus, I can put anything else in there that I don’t want around (we once had a tragic incident with silly putty, so it’s banned from my house).

          • I agree.
            Last Christmas my ex sent a giant picture book he had made of him with my youngest, to be displayed prominently in my home.
            It was so obviously a trap, and I simply said to my daughter, “I’m glad you like your picture book of you and your dad. I don’t think it’s appropriate in the living room, because I’m not married to your dad anymore. How about you keep it in your bedroom?”
            I didn’t react emotionally at all. My youngest saw the logic in this, and liked the autonomy of deciding what they want in their room.
            Interestingly, the book was “lost” soon after, somewhere in their bedroom. I haven’t seen it since. It was always a non-issue, and if it reappears I will still have no reaction. I refuse to play games with my ex through my children. I just keep my boundaries firm and reasonable, and frankly it’s a relief to my children.

    • Yeah, I agree. Letting the kids open the presents doesn’t have to be because the ex demands it. Let the kids open the presents, it doesn’t have to be part of whatever her Christmas is, nor does special attention need to be called to the fact that dad made a point to not be there. The kids will figure that out. In the parenting long game kids will not care about the stuff and when/where it was opened, but the memories made with mom. Making it a thing seems very un-meh. Besides, what would piss him off more than not caring about or making a big thing about HIS presents.

      • I think the real problem here is not about the present but him being in control. If you don’t do what I say I’ll put the kids in the middle so you will be force to do what I say. If you do this now I’ll know next time all I have to do is put kids in the middle and I will still control your life!

    • So sorry, if somebody drops a gift off to my family member I will still let that family member receive the gift
      .Unless there is is danger of death or dismemberment.
      I don’t give a fuck if the giver is a piece of offal, my child still deserves to know the POS gave him a gift. So don’t tell me that I can not accept a parcel intended for my child.

      • OMG I really feel bad about saying a photo on x’s vacation (THAT WAS A JOKE). I honestly only wanted to say that whatever happens all gifts to our children should be given to them. And the gifts should be touted as gifts from the sender.

  • Sane Mom, here is the perfect opportunity to do what the hell ever you want to do. Do not consider his preferences in anyway. I would turn to the kids and ask them “What do you want to do with these presents?” If they are too little to consult then take that bag and drop it off at a charity or local gift tree. You are the Sane Man, you don’t wife for him anymore. Fuck him and his preferences.

  • If only we knew about this kind of controlling by passive aggressive – I just care so much about my kids now -behavior when we wrote our divorce decrees. “Item 105, line B sub section II: Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s day, etc..presents must stay and be opened at the gifting parent’s house.” I wish I thought so detailed. I’m asking Santa for a time machine this year.
    How you keep them out of your house when he’s handing them wrapped presents when he drops them off Saturday is beyond me. But you can just keep them in a closet and when he returns from his Horny Holidays, go ahead and put those still-wrapped up tight presents in your kids’ hands and send them off to be opened late and unceremoniously with those shit heads.

    • I agree. Put those presents away and return them still wrapped the next time he picks up the kids. And don’t respond to any of his comments about how insensitive you are. Ignore, ignore, ignore. The more you DON’T respond, the sooner he’ll understand that it is no longer all about him.

  • No. It’s a complete sentence. He made a choice to not be around for Christmas or for his children. He needs to find a different solution that does not include you or your home.

    • Totally, Miss B. How limited and lazy his thinking is. There are a million other options as to how he can give presents to the kids w/o involving their mother. But that’s too taxing for his tiny, little mind, so he defaults back to the old status quo that ex-wife appliance will solve his petty problems for him. Then is royally pissed off, when his carefully thought out plan (lol) is derailed. He stomps his foot, like a spoiled toddler with a blame-shifting email. A lame response from a lame human being. But should we expect otherwise from these losers?

      • I don’t think it is lame and limited thinking. I think he, very thoughtfully, wants the cake that goes along with this option. It’s a different kind of thinking. The kind normal people have trouble getting our minds around.

        • It all goes back to image management and narcissist thinking. He doesn’t want to be viewed as a bad daddy so leave the presents with the ex and that way daddy is a good guy. This has nothing to do with how his children might feel. It’s all about getting to do what he wants with little to no repercussions.

          I would hazard a guess that before Christmas he’s just ‘too busy’ to etch out some time for the holidays worn his kids. Hence, dropping the gifts off.

          • This right here. He’s too busy getting botox and a fake tan to actually spend the time with the children opening the presents. Why would you want to give a present to a child and not see them open it?

            • Well…grandparents and extended family do it all the time. Via the mail. Still – he could have stayed locally or planned for them to open the gifts up at his home so he could see his kids enjoying the presents.

              Of course, it’s super annoying that Schmoopie gets to play a part in the spectacle but at least you don’t have to witness it in real time.

          • I don’t necessarily think leaving presents with the ex makes him look like a good guy. A good guy would make a point of seeing his children at HIS house before Christmas. Cooking them dinner, watching a Christmas movie. Opening presents together. Spending ‘quality’ time. Making new memories.

            Leaving presents with the ex is a slap-dash effort. He can’t be bothered to take initiative, and doing some honest hard work, so he tries to salvage the situation by coughing up a few gifts, and dropping them off. You can’t get more lazy than that.

      • I really do think this is a game he’s playing. He could have the kids open them before he left. But it’s more of a head-trip to ‘force’ his ex-wife to do what he wants her to do. He’s a dick. Treat a dick appropriately. ‘NO.’ Or ‘Fuck off’. Whichever works.

  • This is adorable. He’s got a Christmas trip planned with his mistress, so it’s his “preference” to drop his gifts off at your house. That’s a hoot.

    Tell him he doesn’t get to dictate his “preferences” in your house. Tell him they can open his gifts at his place later. If he doesn’t like it, boo-fucking-hoo.

  • If he sends the presents home with the kids, they go into a box and are sent back to his home with the kids the next time he deigns to see them. If you tell the kids that any presents are supposed to be opened at his house, maybe they will leave them there (no idea the kids’ ages).

    In the meantime, may I suggest a SINGING sack of dicks as a holiday present for him and Schmoopie?

    Happy Birthday to your son and Happy Holidays because you don’t live with a Fuckwit anymore.

  • Holidays really bring out the worst in these narcissists. The level of entitlement, arrogance, and contempt for you and the children is astonishing. When I get messages like this it reminds me exactly why I divorced and use grey rock and the block function on my phone— the rage channel is so triggering for me.

    Are your kids minors? If so, this sounds like threats of alienation. Document any and all of it.

    I’m so sorry that you are dealing with this BS. “No” is a complete sentence. Use it. Then block him. Christmas will be wonderful because you will be present for your children — the sane, loving, attentive mother that they need.

  • “JohnBullshitter-

    You and I have separate Christmases. As I have already said, the boys will not be opening their presents from you in my home. If you send gifts home with them, I will set them aside until you have the boys next. If they ask why, I will explain that I already explained this to you and it was your choice.”

    • “…and it was your choice to have them open their gifts after Christmas – and your 3-week vacation – rather than before.”

      • EXCELLENT REPLY!! The only thing I’d add is, “This is the last time that I will address this issue with you.”

  • What an asswipe. In any case please save the text or e-mail that he sent threatening to to tell the boys so their Christmas will be ruined while he sits on his stupid ass with Miss Skank on a sunny beach. Down the road your boys may need some clarification on their “father”. His demanding his “gifts” be opened on Christmas in your home is to remind everyone he is off with OW on a nice holiday while the rest of you schmucks are stuck at home. God forbid you enjoy the day and not think of him and his absence. This man is beyond cruel. If there were ever an appropriate time to start letting your kids know that their father is not right in the head this it the time. When he can’t mess with you & make you feel “less than” he’ll mess with the boys.

    • I honestly think it’s one of 2 things…

      1) Either his presents are shitty and/or underwhelming and he doesn’t want to be present for the embarrassment of it- and it won’t make much difference to the boys because Mom is and will continue to be awesome and they’ll be so excited with HER Christmas that Dad’s disappointment won’t sting as much. Maybe OW had him (I’m sure he was easily persuaded to) skimp on their gifts so they have more spending money.


      2) He was a showoff this year and is SURE his gifts will out-fucking-SHINE Mom’s so her Christmas will be tainted but “the boys were happy so what’s your problem?” And she’ll message him what a dick he is and he and his whore will teehee about what a sad, silly, petty bitch she is over their mojitos in the Bahamas.

      • Two very probable scenarios. In all of the above he shows himself to be a shithead. Whether the presents are grand or skimpy the boys will always note Dad, made himself and OW a priority by blowing them off on Christmas. After putting his kids through the trauma of cheating and blowing up the family, if he had a shred of decency he could have held off to 12/26 to take the trip.

      • I think it could be shitty presents but also a heavy dose of entitlement. I remember on year not long after my dad left my mom for his AP he had sent us home with presents for Xmas. We were teenagers by then and driving, he had been with his AP for some time, my mom knew but we didn’t until he split. But anyways we opened the gifts, my brother got a cheap set of jumper cables and i no kidding got a gallon of antifreeze. So obviously he waited till the last minute and ended up shopping at the nearest auto parts store. And landed on antifreeze. “It’s the thought that counts” I’m sure he was thinking. His AP (my stepmother ..barf) was just as bad, one year she got me a can of shaving cream. Of course beautifully wrapped. These people are beyond narcissistic. It really is all about them

        • Wow!! That’s funny, and sad, but really funny! Too bad you didn’t have your mom take a picture of you with the gallon of antifreeze and write on it, “Thanks Dad!!! Just what I wanted!!!”

          • Narcs CANNOT give gifts. My mother is verified Borderline Personality Disorder and gave me —- hand lotion for my first Christmas I moved away from home. Cheap, smelly, drugstore shit, nothing nice like Yardley or Bathworks. My revenge? Now she is in dementia care and I buy her toiletries. Guess what kind of hand lotion she gets? Not wrapped for Christmas, however. I’m not stooping to her level.

            Anyway, just had to share. Back to our regularly scheduled thread.

          • We actually did laugh about it, we knew what kind of a person he was and in his mind I’m sure “as long as I got something wrapped and under their tree” he was in the clear, probably gave himself a big pat on the back for actually shopping and wrapping. Ultimately he ended up cheating on wife #2 (his AP while married to my mom), she cleaned him out as she was all about his money anyways so now he’s on wife #3 he dragged back here from the jungles of the Philippines. She’s like 25 years his junior. I don’t get him AT ALL

  • This reeks of “I know what you really want even though that’s not what you said”. Sane Mom wants each to have an individual Christmas. Simple, huh?

    Notice the ex’s word salad response? Jumbled into it is what he thinks is what she meant. In other words “you don’t want my presents under the tree”. Then he takes the imagined reason and runs with it by saying he’ll bring them by so they can open them early.

    My ex-wife so loved acting on what she thought I meant instead of what I actually said. Then would let a little crazy slip out so I’d realize that if I pushed back that I would be in for a fight.

    There’s really no excuse for not being able to understand “I will be doing my own Christmas with the boys at my house and he should do the same at his place”. Personally, I’d just repeat that message over and over for any and all responses that are not some form of acceptance. Even if he showed up at the door with the gifts in hand.

    • SPF, My XW would do the same. Id say one thing and she interpreted how ever she wanted. How does that not lead to an argument if you don’t just let it go. LOL
      Very frustrating. Thank goodness I don’t live with a person who puts words in my mouth any longer.
      And I would be pretty Nostradamissy, lol, if I asked how much more worse that got during the divorce.

      • The twat “always knew what I was thinking” too even though I had just said the opposite. Then he would often “have an argument” with me for ages without me ever opening my mouth because “you think this, and you thought that”! Delusional dick!

  • I honestly think it’s one of 2 things…

    1) Either his presents are shitty and/or underwhelming and he doesn’t want to be present for the embarrassment of it- and it won’t make much difference to the boys because Mom is and will continue to be awesome and they’ll be so excited with HER Christmas that Dad’s disappointment won’t sting as much. Maybe OW had him (I’m sure he was easily persuaded to) skimp on their gifts so they have more spending money.


    2) He was a showoff this year and is SURE his gifts will out-fucking-SHINE Mom’s so her Christmas will be tainted but “the boys were happy so what’s your problem?” And she’ll message him what a dick he is and he and his whore will teehee about what a sad, silly, petty bitch she is over their mojitos in the Bahamas.

  • Dear UBT,
    If you drop presents off at my house I will put them in the garbage. I will tell the children that they had a terrible odor and I could not keep them in the home.
    This is MY house and MY choice. Your presents are not allowed in my home. Please make it clear to the boys that I do not want stinky presents under my tree. I will handle the fall out when Santa comes to my home on Christmas day.
    Enjoy your vacation with the ho!

  • I’d go the route of telling him it’s not in the kids’ best interest to have their new toys drug back and forth between households in the cold weather. It will cause more germs to be spread which she’s trying to limit this holiday season. And you have to think about them getting to spend the time playing with their toys, and how getting to open some presents early and play with them supports their brain development so much more. And the new toys might get broken or lost, which would disappoint The Children!

    Make this a long ass, boring wall of text explanation, which by the time he gets done reading he may likely say, “Okay.”

    Long walls of text that are super boring work on my hooker hiring, timid forest creature. I got the idea from one of Chump Lady’s archive posts. I swear to god using this technique kept me from having to go thru the alternative dispute process in court this fall.

    I have written enough of this crap now that I copy and paste a lot of it, or just write it off the suggested terms on my email, that it doesn’t take up much of my time anymore.

    • Also, added bonus, his whore may well put the kabash on a lot of communication with you since it will likely stir up the appearance of closeness with you and him. His whore will be pick me dancing like crazy.

    • Though explaining is engagement, and gives the disordered more things to argue about. No is a full sentence, and sends the implicit message a chump doesn’t give a damn what cheater thinks. It also guarantees they can’t accuse us of histrionics.

  • I know suggestions will abound, and you need to do what’s right for you, but I’ll share my first thought in case it interests anyone.

    My first thought was, if kids show up w/presents from Dad, then presents get opened right now, first thing, right on the front porch. You can go in to pee of needed, then come back outside and here’s a cup of cocoa, and let’s open those presents!

    Play with that stuff for a short bit, then pack everything up in a bag/box to go back with you next time you go to Dad’s. Come inside and maybe write thank yous for what you received.

    Then we’re back to business as usual for my house for the rest of the holiday.

    This comes from the “If you have no choice but to eat a shit sandwich, might as well get it over with so you don’t have to keep stressing over it for a long time” department, “Be careful what you ask for because you just might get it” section. It takes all the anticipation energy and power struggling off the table right from the start and lets everyone just tuck the dad stuff right in their back pockets and pull it back out later during dad time.

    • I like this advice. I wrote advice earlier to “re wrap the gifts and have them be from mom” and that was a terrible suggestion. lol. This is why I come here. 🙂

      • Well, it might be terrible in real life, but it’s funny as hell for the Chump Nation Coping Committee meeting. ????????????????

    • I had to snicker at this. Last Christmas (or within a few days of Christmas) the ex came over with presents for our daughter (home from university). I assumed she would bring him into the living room where the Christmas tree was to exchange gifts with him (I was working in the kitchen). Nope, she did the whole exchange and gift opening on the front porch, and was back in the kitchen quite quickly.

  • This is SaneMom. The amount of emails I got thereafter is so lengthy I cannot begin. It’s like he had a toddler tantrum because I said no to his idealistic Christmas (that he chose not be around for ) It continued into the next night where he sent me pictures of his wrapped presents all Disney dad million of them . And then he offers to help set up the tree “Would you be open to me coming over to help set up the tree ‘ I honestly cannot believe it. It’s like he doesn’t want me to live my own life and find my own happiness. His vacation- His view is that since I didn’t want to go away with the kids then he would take the time to do so. I never in a million years thought i would be in such a situation. I would read these ultimate stories on CL and shake my head thinking – no way .. embellished … but nope! It’s true. I’m living it and bewildered . And me saying no is something he’s not used to. It’s like he became a 16 year old kid again and has no sense anymore .

    Thank you for all of your support . It really makes me feel like I’m not alone . I have to go run my Christmas concerts now and block out his nonsense for the week .

    • How I’ve dealt with this sort of stuff with my ex-wife is to repeat what I want ad nauseam until I either get silence or acceptance.

      Personally, I’d respond to an and all attempts to discuss it further with “I will be doing my own Christmas with the boys at my house and you should do the same at his place”. Then dig in for the rage, charm and self-pity cycle. Be ready for it and have that response in a note app or document where you can copy and paste it over and over.

      • I’d like to reiterate what SweetPotato said.
        My therapist suggested the broken record technique and it worked.
        Copy and paste is a wonderful thing.
        When that failed, and it rarely did, he got “No” followed by silence.

    • “It’s like he doesn’t want me to live my own life and find my own happiness.”


      Centrality. He probably also doesn’t believe you don’t want his magnificence near you anymore. Ex was sure I would take him back after I got over my “bruised ego”. He obviously understands nothing. What worked best for me in these situations was to let him spew (try not to let any of it actually into your head, it’s hard not to, but he’s just throwing guilt-spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks), and then respond very briefly and unemotionally, e.g. “I am not interested in having a combined Christmas. You are very welcome to open your presents with the boys at dinner, I am certain they would enjoy opening gifts early, and having them to play with at your home.” (Or whatever answer causes you the least stress.) Then, whatever the response, cut and paste the exact same thing. As often as needed. After two years I barely get one or two of those nonsenses a year! I fed no kibbles to the monster.
      My one continuing act that isn’t BIFF-y is that I never add any salutations to my emails. It’s but it makes me feel happily rebellious, and after giving him 11 years of my life, I’m not wasting any more on pleasantries I don’t mean! 😀 Sorry you have to deal with this mindfuckery, find your best way to stay strong with the BIFF-VLC and it will get easier with time and practice. ((Hugs))

    • I can’t even believe he asked to come over and set up YOUR tree. You should have said that you have your boyfriend coming over and it would be awkward. I think you need to send him the divorce definition from because clearly he doesn’t understand what the word means.

    • SaneMom, I am so annoyed that he’s trying to co-opt your Christmas. He wants to be in his beach-vacation-with-OW mode, but also have one foot in the “cozy home Christmas with the family” camp. I cannot BELIEVE the audacity of him wanting to come help you set up your tree!! There is more attempted cake in this guy’s emails than under an entire British baking show tent. I’m appalled.

    • I have been threatened by my ex that he will ‘tell the kids’ what I have done too many times to count.

      He still wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to be on vacation with his skank while he takes center stage at YOUR home on Christmas morning with bigger and more expensive presents than yours. Screw him.

    • Clearly he can’t be bothered with a tree at his house. YOU do the heavy lifting on keeping traditions alive for the boys. YOU do the decorating and cleaning up. He will provide presents!!

      Tell him to keep his Disneyland Dad gifts at his place and the boys can open them when he gets back from his vacation that he didn’t bother to take the boys on. Opening presents after Christmas just doesn’t have the same shine, though. Too bad for him and his bad decisions.

    • Please tell me your email reply to his thought of helping with your tree was, “Hahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahaha!” I would have laughed my ass off. What an idiot.

      But really, don’t reply to any of his nonsense. Or only reply with words from the divorce decree around the custody terms of agreement: days with him/days with you/anything about how drop offs occur. Once I started doing that to my exhole and did not engage with him on anything else he got bored. Plus, I saved all that shit so that if he decided he wanted to take me back to court I could show how he kept trying to bend the rules and I was following them.

      Anyway, gray rock is beautiful thing.

    • Two very probable scenarios. In all of the above he shows himself to be a shithead. Whether the presents are grand or skimpy the boys will always note Dad, made himself and OW a priority by blowing them off on Christmas. After putting his kids through the trauma of cheating and blowing up the family, if he had a shred of decency he could have held off to 12/26 to take the trip.

    • They are truly clueless. Most of these Narcs, like my covert NX, aren’t consciously plotting this out, nope its really all selfish entitlement. They want what they want and they honestly see nothing wrong with getting their want and don’t really care what collateral damage occurs, because they don’t notice it. If they realize later on that their behavior made you crazy, well that’s just a bonus.

      They might really not realize that their behavior is in any way out of line. Because they are ENTITLED to ask you to continue to do wife appliance duties, and maintain their centrality. It’s what they are. And when you call them on it, point it out, how miserable of a human being they are, then they are confused that you think there is anything wrong with the behavior, and then they get mad at you for being so unreasonable! Their wants are important – much more important than any of yours. You are just a bit player in their world stage.

      I’ve have lived with this type of person all my life. (My father, Grandmother [malignent], and XAss) And was thoroughly trained by my co-dependent mother. I’m learning now to stop and examine the request and my instinctual response to it. If presented with this logic puzzle, my first reaction would have been, “Oh, o.k., get presents, put under tree, be sure kids know Dad made an ‘effort'”. I read everyone’s responses here and its lightbulb going off in realization how much paddling I have done over the years for someone else’s impression management benefit.

      • Fun Friday Challenge idea!

        At these holiday times we can share stories about what the entitled cheaters expected their Chumps to do for them, completely missing the idea of consequences. Share family recipes with the AP? Buy and wrap all the kids’ gifts from “Mom and Dad”? Allow them to be there on Christmas morning? Have them over for the traditional feast? I think we have done something like this before.

        The first Thanksgiving after his abandonment of me for a twat half his age, my X expected both adult daughters to come fix him the big holiday meal at his new swinging bachelor pad 5 hours away (where he had one fork and one plate, and no furniture other than a bed) rather than them traveling to be with me in their hometown as usual. They told him hell-to-the-no and came home. We had a good laugh imagining him microwaving some garbage or trying to pile in at his pot-addled brother’s hoarded house.

        My scratch cooking and objectively beautiful, extensive holiday food choices will be another thing he will miss. I made his beloved mother’s traditional recipes and he will never have them again. Bummer.

        • I see that one of our CN citizens posted such an example yesterday on the Reddit forum – a request for a family recipe.

    • I’m not sure I understand his reasoning for taking a holiday with OW, since you are not taking the boys on vacation? Unless he is taking the boys it doesn’t make sense.

    • “Your wishes for what happens in my home are irrelevant.”

      Repeat. Robotically, grey rockingly, without justifications, without pleading, without blame.

      “Your wishes for what happens in my home are irrelevant.”

      He will go through the rage, charm and self-pity channels, he will tell the kids you ruined their Christmas, he will be the idiot 16YO dumbass teenager who has not learned consequences. He may stomp his little feet.

      “Your wishes for what happens in my home are irrelevant.”

    • Sane mom. You are right. He doesn’t want your own happiness and this is also a method of control. You stick to your guns and shut this down. If you don’t it will continue on with other things. I notice he basically told you and then thinly veiled threat to put the kids in the middle and blame you. Like many others have said if he really cared he would not planned missing one of the kids birthday. Make it simple and to the point. Tell him no. You are not responsible for his Christmas and will have your own so don’t bring the presents over here. You must stick to your boundaries or he will keep trying to walk all over you and blame you to the kids. If he shows up with them anyway just send them back with them when he returns.

  • He is probably going to do exactly what he threatened to do. Can you find a great big garbage bag or two and put the presents in there and take them to a trusted friend and leave them there until the idiot comes back from his vacation? In the meantime in order to calm the waters take your kids out to look at the Christmas lights and then find a place that serves hot chocolate. Once you’ve been out and about and they’ve gotten the Christmas spirit back then home and let them watch their favorite movie. Get the cookies and milk out For Santa and read to them. If you come from a Christian belief read St. Luke. If you do this every year it becomes a ritual they demand. If they mention The Idiot tell them they get two celebrations. Yay! Then turn off the phone so he can’t impose his toxic self into your part of the holiday. Don’t argue with him. If he loved his children he would not leave. You owe him nothing other than what the court order says.

    • I forgot to mention. If he can’t get through and talk to the children it’s going to tank his entire vacation. That means that he does not have power over you. Let’s hope it ruins his fun. Just realize that he’s going to continue to try to manipulate you any way he can. You just have to hold steady and pretend like you are gray rock out there in the driveway.
      I hope this takes away any residual pain you might have because of the way he treated you. I hope this gives you such a clear picture of what a rotten selfish person that he is that you rejoice he’s no longer your headache. Merry Christmas, happy holidays.

      • Oooooh I like his not getting through to the boys while he is on vacation. Sane should really consider turning off all devices just in case. The boys won’t even notice of they’re busy with new toys, dinner, etc.

  • ((((Sane Mom)))
    All that CL said!
    YOU, are a very strong, sane, present, loving parent.
    No matter what ages your Children are they will live knowing who has got their back, who is there, physically present for their birthday, for Christmas, for every single day that is special. Because that is what being special is, it is about being there for all special moments. It is not about something material that is wrapped in pretty paper and tied with ribbon or string. That shit cannot give a kid a genuine hug, a kiss, or even a caring smile overflowing with love and understanding of what another person is feeling.
    More important, on all the other life days, that don’t have shinning sparkles and lights, on the every day, life happenings, YOU are the one who is there for them. You hold them when they have a nightmare, tell them it is going to be ok. And, it will be ok, Sane Mom, because they got YOU!

    Meanwhile there goes cheater/dad off flying somewhere with ow, NOT present for his child’s birthday, not present for Christmas, just NOT present for anything really. He is fuming about his phoney expressions of caring not being under your Christmas tree.
    Well, no matter what is inside those gifts, or what you decide to do about these material things, your sons’ have got the best, most genuine present, ever!

  • Yuck, this is truly next-level jackassery and control. Narcissists really believe that THEY are the only ones who get to have feelings and preferences, even when there are children involved. Your holiday is whatever you want it to be, and I presume that doesnt include free image management from afar for an asshole. He can do whatever he wants with those gifts at HIS house when it is HIS parenting time. Your time and your space are your own. My ex used to whine that I shouldnt tell the kids when it was my daughter’s turn to be with him for holidays. He was “concerned” that I was telling them the schedule in advance and “making” them be disappointed if it was a year we wouldnt be together. Um, my kids get to know the plan. They were teenagers at the time! Ignore it all and have fun with your actual children, not your entitled ex man-baby who is now (thankfully) someone else’s problem.

  • Your could tell him if he the presents are in YOUR house and under YOUR tree they will be FROM YOU. (Or Santa) Re wrap those gifts and tell him thanks for doing your shopping.
    If he chooses to go out of town on Christmas that’s his choice. You get to make choices too.

  • My ex pulled some version of this stunt at the first Xmas post split. I think for my ex, he simply couldn’t imagine doing the holidays alone cause I had literally done EVERYTHING for decades. Boo hoo. Ummm, sorry buddy. Grow up and figure it out.

    He told our daughter some BS when I refused to which I said to her the thing I’ve since repeated many times “I disagree with you’re dad on this because XXX and he doesn’t like it when people disagree with him. But grownups disagree sometimes and that’s normal. It upsets your dad more than normal and I hope he gets help for that.”

  • He can’t drop his presents off if you don’t answer the door lol.

    If you start this routine he will do it every year. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of him playing situations off against you with the kids. There are some excellent suggestions above on how to teach your kids to develop critical thinking skills now.

  • Totally recognize that “do my bidding or you are shockingly callous” tone. Abusers love it.

    Nope. He wants to ghost the kiddos on Christmas in favor of prioritizing the mistress (as usual) then he can just own that. Kids will know what’ what, in any case, so he can blather as so desired.

    Holidays are lovely without these folks, so here’s hoping the cheatercation is a long one.

  • You know, I can imagine this idiot dropping them off when you’re not home, or mailing them.

    I say, be prepared to grab that satchel of guilt gifts and take them straight to Toys for Tots, Goodwill, a shelter or open them up and sell that shit. Hey! Abandoned property on your porch = yours to dispose of in whatever manner you see fit. (The last one may be a bit extreme, but clearly he has money to throw around and you may not.)

    You have no idea what happened to the bag of crap.

    What the hell – he is your EX-husband, he isn’t even at his own home and he’s going off somewhere warm and sunny with Schmoopie. So no, he doesn’t get to enjoy Christmas vicariously. Why? Because there is no Skype when the kids are at your home. Turn off the wi-fi and if the kids have cell phones – confiscate them so all his messages to them go straight to voice mail. A holiday without dad. The first of many.

  • OMG!

    Don’t even know where to begin.

    First, he chose to go away for XMas and his child’s bday. It is his responsibility to figure out an alternative that doesn’t expect you to do the legwork for him.

    Second, I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to have his own Christmas/Birthday party with the kids before leaving. Doesn’t he feel bad that he’s going to be gone? Doesn’t he want to have some kind of celebration with them. Families do that all the time for all sorts of reason. My aunt and uncle always host a big to-do on Christmas Eve. This year they are going to Florida for Xmas to be with my aunt’s parents (her mother’s health is declining). So, they hosted “Christmas Eve” this past Saturday instead. Voila! Family time still occurred, traditions maintained, everyone’s happy.

    Your idiot ex doesn’t want the work of creating a celebration. And, he’s with a woman who also doesn’t value your kids. If I was with a man, and we made a choice to be away during a holiday (not likely, but “if”), I would want to ensure that something was done for his kids and a birthday got celebrated. It’s called being a good “girlfriend/stepmom”. If the man I was with couldn’t be bothered, I would be VERY bothered about him.

    Third, why doesn’t he want to reap the benefit and joy of watching the kids open their gifts. Doesn’t he want to see their reactions and receive their hugs? Doesn’t he want to see them play with those gifts and find places to put them in their home with their dad? Why would he want those things kept at your place and miss getting the credit?

    CL has nailed this one. He is still seeking ways to insert himself into your life and home and make himself central even when he not there.

    Shut this down. Explain to your children that Daddy is not going to be around for the birthday and Christmas and that he is going to have to create a make-up celebration so that they open their presents at his house. Tell them “it’s not fair to Daddy” that the presents be taken out of his house. Turn the table on your ex and provide your own narrative to the kids. Email your fuckwit and tell him that you have explained to the kids that he will be informing them of when their celebration with him will be taking place at his house so that they can get their presents because there is no room at your house and you think he should get the credit/benefit of seeing his own children open their gifts from him. Let him know that he will have to explain himself to the kids if he chooses not to have his own celebration with them, or they will need to wait until he gets back. Then inform him that he is never again to be dictating to you what is to occur in your own home.

    Perhaps, arrange for one of your family members to pick up the kids from your ex’s house leading up to his departure so that he can’t just pawn off the gifts on you at your house. If you have a family member willing to do it, then let them know that they are to politely decline bringing the gifts in the car if your ex pushes it, and that the kids should have opened the gifts with their time with him.

    • Third, why doesn’t he want to reap the benefit and joy of watching the kids open their gifts. Doesn’t he want to see their reactions and receive their hugs? Doesn’t he want to see them play with those gifts and find places to put them in their home with their dad? Why would he want those things kept at your place and miss getting the credit?

      He’s either expecting Sane Mom to capture every moment and post them online so he can show off how great a dad he is and for image management (I can’t be that big an asshole, see, ex is doing Christmas with me) OR he gets to be all sad about how she can’t co-parent with me and do the minimum of giving me photos of them kids opening my gifts since I tragically couldn’t be there.

  • My ex also wanted to have Christmas together, and I had to put my foot down. I get them for half the day, she gets them the other half, and no mingling.
    Sane Mom, simply do NOT accept the presents. If they “magically appear” with your sons’ gear after he’s left, or he finds some other way to dump them on you, then hide them somewhere the boys won’t find them, and don’t tell them you have them. Mail them back to his house while he’s gone. If that’s too much trouble, keep them hidden and hand them back to him without a word when he gets back from the boink fest with his mistress. If you get angry rants, tell him it’s not your fault he’s not around to spend his half a day with them.
    And on that note… he’s got some gall saying he wants to “make it about the children” (or whatever the phrase was). If he REALLY wanted to put the children first, he’d see them on Christmas. What kind of a douche (excuse my expression) doesn’t spend Christmas with his underage children? Good gracious, that just makes me want to barf.
    My other advice to you is to document this. Make a note about it in a little notebook. “Ex chose not to exercise custody rights on Christmas day with the children. He was on vacation with the mistress.” If you ever get into a custody wrangle with him later, and I suspect you will, a court will easily size him up for what he really is.

    • ^^This^^
      It neatly puts the problem right back in his hands. This response protects you and makes him look bad if you end up in court later (which I can almost guarantee you will). Also it neatly stops the triangulation with the kids.

  • Wow-experiencing somewhat is the same thing right now!

    A kid on my boys’ (they are 18 and the boy is 19) baseball team just died of a drug overdose.

    My STBX said that we need to sit down TOGETHER and have a talk with our kids about the dangers of drugs.

    I said no-we can each talk separately to them-and since I had them that night I was going to talk to them.

    He said that I needed to put him on speaker phone when I did this so he could be involved. I simply said, “No. my house is MY house and I call the shots. You are NOT a part of MY house-and you can run YOUR house however you want.”

    He gave me the, “Tsk, tsk” and said that I was being selfish and making a mistake.

    I have to believe that all of these incidents are boiled down to one simple reason:


    • I encourage you to have just that conversation with him. Be sure to include the part about TRAUMA
      (such as blowing up your child’s family by having an affair) is linked to drug use as a way to soothe emotional pain.

      You can tell him I sent you with my 35 years in recovery (drugs alcohol trauma sick family etc)


      And I am so sorry to hear about the tragic death of your son’s friend. I am sure you will find some family trauma in his history. Please extend my sympathies. ????

      • YES!! Velvet Hammer-I wish I had thought of that!!!

        A person can’t go around doing selfish asshole things, blowing apart families JUST because THEY feel entitled!

        My ex has this amazing ability to put himself up on a pedestal while refusing to own any of his actions and behaviors.

        I find it crazy that he actually thinks he is a moral pillar of society!

        My boys are 18-they have lost all respect for him. When he talks to them-he talks like he does to me-condescending. He is OBLIVIOUS to the fact that he fucked up and STILL thinks his kids admire him.

        The nice thing is: I don’t have to badmouth him to the kids-he’s doing a fine job showing them his true colors…..

        And thank you for the sympathy-my heart breaks for that family.

    • Ding ding ding!! These losers LOVE control. It gives them spasms of delight. They will sacrifice their children to have control. They will blow up whole villages for control. Best revenge? Grey rock them do they are flummoxed by their lack of control over you.

      • SPOT ON Tempest!!

        Perfect example:

        My 15 year old daughter borrowed my food processor. I went to retrieve it last week-and he said, “It’s MY food processor-but I will lend it to you.”

        I said, “No thanks!” and just went a bought a new one.

        Then-I needed a cookbook (I had written down some recipes that I needed in there) that my mother gave me as a gift for my wedding to that asshole-and he told me no.

        My daughter stepped in and spoke with him-she came back and said, “Okay-dad is willing to give you the cookbook if you give him the replacement one you bought for yourself.”


        Way to go, Fuckwit! You just showed your daughter what a petty little bitch you are. Keep it up…..Like shooting fish in a barrel….

        • I had a similar confrontation with XW over a KitchenAid mixer. She asked for it, I said “no”, and she blew a gasket. This was the first time I said no to her, just a few weeks after she left me, and she never forgot.

          A year later, XW put the KitchenAid as one of only two line item objects she wanted in the settlement, just to make her point that she was going to get it in the end. I didn’t know what to do: it was so obviously a “fuck you” request that I didn’t want to knuckle under, and yet it seemed ridiculous to jeopardize the whole settlement for something so small. I mentioned this to my sister, who told me to give her the KitchenAid and that she would order me the “fucking cadillac of mixers” from Amazon and have it shipped straight to my house. Which she did, and I get a warm feeling every time I use it. My sister is awesome.

          Money doesn’t solve everything, but sometimes when there’s a standoff over some easily replaceable material object it’s best to just buy a replacement and let the other person think he won. Because they always think that being the greater asshole – being the one who forces a confrontation over something insignificant – is actually winning.

          • My response to Cheater #1 when I moved out and took the stuff that had been wedding gifts: “I didn’t break the marriage vows, I get my choice of wedding gifts.” Shut that right down.

          • Georgian-you hit the nail on the head…

            It’s such petty bullshit-don’t you just want to scream at them, “BUT YOU’RE THE ONE WHO FUCKED UP!!!”

            It’s very hard sometimes to be the bigger, better person. It’s also hard waiting for Karma to do her thing….

    • Way to handle the fuckwit!! I am one of the lucky ones here. When I was discarded, the dick has stayed out of my life completely. It’s still really nice to hear how mighty everybody here is.

      • Amazon Chump-that is AWESOME!!!

        I wish my ex would just go away-but we have 3 kids together so we have to parallel parent.

        I do fantasize about the day my daughter turns 18 and I am DONE with him.

        • StrongerNow,

          I hear that! Can’t wait for my 14 yo son to be 18, freeing him and me up to do many things on our own. And together w/his sisters, if we want. Let the FW XW have her time w/him when he wants to. My time on my own will be much more on my terms, but hopefully my son will still want to hang out w/his old dad a bit.

  • What a dog!
    His #1 priority is getting gloriously laid and adored.
    He get’s “appreciated” by his new sex appliance by soothing her insecurities over his children and their mother by leaving them behind.
    Meanwhile, he wants to leave his scent behind by pissing high up on your Christmas tree.
    Don’t let him shit where you sleep!!
    Put his gifts in Hefty bags. Tell the kids it will be more fun to open them with Dad. Then go snuggle on the sofa with cookies and the “Muppets Christmas Carol”.
    Merry Christmas!

  • For me, the hardest thing was thinking during situations like this am I responding to this as the “Abandoned Wife” or the “Aggrieved Mom”.

    – X wants to drop off his Christmas presents to the kids at your house… both would say, no thank you, they can receive them at your house on the next visitation date.

    – X wants to impose his needs on to you for image management… both would say, you fired me from that job when your penis fell into another woman’s vagina.

    – X plans a vacation over a child’s birthday and Christmas… both would say, you’re an adult and you made the choices that were most important to you, it is not my responsibility to do anything here on your behalf.

    You can see where this is going… from either perspective in the roles we are forced to play with these fuckwits you don’t owe him a thing. This is between him and his children… you are no longer the conduit. If the kids come to you with their disappointment (because he will paint you as the bitter person who won’t allow the gifts in the house)… explain and remind them that you are celebrating Christmas (and birthdays) with them because they are your priority… but you are not responsible for their Father’s choices. It is good they learn about boundaries and consequences… even if they don’t like it.

    Hang in there and have a happy holidays season minus one fuckwit.

  • Not sure how old the children are, but this part is concerning: the binary of “do what I say, or I will unilaterally decide that the children can make the final choice”.

    Just push red on the whole thing.
    The kids already know that he’s a shitbag, gifts or not.

  • Daddy should just make time either before or after his trip to give his kids his gifts and the sane mother should celebrate the season with her children the way she wants to. Daddy too busy? Too bad.
    Why weaponize the holiday and birthday?
    Just say NO and tell him to figure it out.

  • You need to establish impenetrable boundaries with him. He is no longer the dictator of you, or your household, though it’s apparent he feels entitled to that role. Double down on your convictions and tell him NO. Not sorry, Just no. He can make other plans.
    It’s also apparent he is accustomed to handing the uncomfortable tasks to others to handle while also threatening your relation ship with your children, if you fail to submit to his “preferences “.

    I would send him an email NOW, clearly defining YOUR boundaries, don’t call them preferences. This is YOUR household, and you will NOT share in the “mom and dad” giving.
    He is living HIS best life
    DO NOT Allow him to dictate YOUR life.

  • WOW -what an asshole. Tantrum is right. I have learned so much about assholery negotiating this whole shit sandwich of post-divorce parenting with a cheater. One of my main insights is that they don’t actually WANT to be assholes. I mean there may be evil people out there that truly get off on making some one else suffer-like serial killers. But the cheating fuckwit is stuck at a toddler’s level of emotional maturity –but way less endearing. It took me years of tormenting myself with “why would he do that?” and “how can he not see that this is all drama he’s creating?” and other similar questions. The fact that he seems happy and loved by this fuckbunny turned baby mama makes it even more confusing. Why is he being an asshole to me? Just me? And then I realized, he doesn’t want to be an asshole. That’s why we always fight. Because I keep pointing it out to him —and his baby mama (and his mother)- don’t point it out. He is magnanimous, generous, brilliant, charming…not an asshole. He would be helping our daughter with her physics project, or here to celebrate the holidays with them but he has a new BABY to take care of. And I won’t let him fly our kids overseas to let them meet their new half sister because they are both getting their wisdom teeth out over break. He isn’t an asshole. He is a new father with a crazy ex-wife who makes things all about her. I put those wisdom teeth in there just to make him look bad. And fuckbunny isn’t neglecting her child from another marriage either. She is a new mother. They are both beautiful people trying to raise a baby and still show love and affection to their discarded children –and these selfish exes keep making them feel bad. What can they do? I honestly think if they were capable of comprehending the feelings of others besides themselves, they would not behave this way.

    • Madkatie I saw how my ex enjoyed playing dirty tricks on other people. He enjoyed their pain and confusion. I would cry and try to convince him that what he did was awful. He thought it was cool. It’s not just that they can’t comprehend the feelings of others. Many of them enjoy screwing people over. It’s a delightful game for them.

  • Ya know, I’m going to suggest you drop the rope on this one. Yeah, he’s A total Controlling fucker And all that but don’t let him ruin your joy. So. Let him drop off gifts on Saturday. Don’t have any of your gifts under it. Just his. Let him tell kids they have to wait. Chime in. ‘Oh too bad daddy is making us wait! Boo hoo.’ If he doesn’t give in to them opening then smile nod etc and after he’s gone, or next morning let them open. Video tape. Then send to ex on Christmas. Or just let it go. You got a lot of holidays ahead. This is a giant leap to meh.

    • Yeah… no. I get what you’re saying, I mean, who cares?

      But clearly the OP does and she’s laid a boundary and he’s now trampling it. With people like that, you cannot give even a single, reasonable inch under any circumstances nor cave to bullying. Just take the gifts, pack them up, say that they’re for when they next see dad and then send them back to him next visit.

      Do it with a smile, and have something distracting for them to do or see.

  • I think that you have to do what’s right for you and your kids.

    It sounds as if Dad did a gazillion presents to buy off his kids since he decided to skedaddle off with Schmoopie. I do very much prefer to let the kids know in an age-appropriate, non-judgemental fashion that dad decided to take a vacation without them.

    Next email, let CheaterDad know that you’ve decided that since the kids will be a bit confused as to why they’re getting the presents from dad in YOUR house instead of his place, you’ll let them know that he had decided to send the presents to your house because he’s going on vacation and won’t be with them over Christmas. Therefore, the kids get to decide WHEN to open the presents. CheaterDad can rest assured that you’ll ensure that all of the presents will go back to his house once he returns from holiday.

    He will hate this because it gives the children agency.

    • hmm…

      I wouldn’t allow the kids to decide. Poor little things are probably very confused. I’d just take them and pack them up to be sent back to be opened with dad when he gets back. I’d notify him in advance so he has the chance to do it before he goes, but I wouldn’t give the children the choice on this one.

      • Nope. I wouldn’t allow the kids to decide either. I would just put the presents away and return them in a black plastic trash bag the next time he picked up the kids. There needs to be gray rock else he’ll continue to play head games.

    • I don’t agree with letting the kids decide. She needs to establish boundaries with him and nip this in the bud. This is about control and she needs to squash this now or he will continue to treat her as a doormat.

  • ”Dear ex

    I’m not sure why it is so important to you that the children open the gifts you have bought them without you there, or why it is important that you not be around for either A’s birthday or over the holiday period, but unfortunately they will not be putting anything under the tree. My suggestion is that you do a pre-Christmas gift exchange before you leave. If you are not able to do that, I will pack the gifts up and send them back with them the next time they are due to spend time with you and they can open them then.

    I know it’s hard to fully get around, but I no longer do as you wish. I just do not. This is a boundary. A hard boundary. If you prefer to try and trample it and not open gifts with your children, then that is your decision and I will do my best to explain that to them in a kind way, but rest assured that they will have a wonderful Christmas at home, with gifts and food and the people who love them, and they can enjoy what you have decided to get them either before that day or on the next occasion that they see you.

    Thank you for your understanding.

  • I have adult children, so I know it’s probably not as difficult. I was married almost 25 years to a person and caught his secret hidden Backpage, POF, prostitution/sex-trafficking, etc. sick life. He was truly horrible and abusive to me for along time and NO CONTACT has saved my sanity over and over. He is a controlling nut case like most of these cheaters. I am almost 3 years from Dday and 2 1/2 from no contact except for a few emails and lawyer stuff that first year. I made it clear to my kids and to him that my life is not his business and we would never be doing anything jointly. It works because he knows I have a 3 in binder of all his nasty pictures, conversations, and bad habits!! My thoughts about your situation are for you to just keep your communications to a minimum, but print it all and keep track of it. Share these boundary breaking things with your lawyer and advocate for a strong line in the sand. Tell your X it’s his choice to not be with his children on Christmas and he will need to figure out another day to celebrate it and open presents with them. You have a special day planned and he can plan his own. Period. Plan your own day. Don’t ever talk to me about this again. As far as his presents though, once he gives them to the kids, then they are their items and I would be gentle with this. Kids suffer enough with divorce and their things become important. Unless the item is detracting from their learning ie. a bunch of noisy video game stuff….I would let them keep whatever is theirs. I would tell them that certain things will be off limits (whatever those are – such as guns, small ponies, giant blow up bouncy houses, etc.), but otherwise he can celebrate with them on his own and anything that is given to them is theirs. You love them and want them to not have to choose, but you have to have your own life – just like he is having his. You would not ask to go into his home and it’s hurtful to not be allowed a new life. Keep it simple. Talk to your kids. Be kind. But, tell him NO. Plan your own day. Period. That’s my thoughts. I don’t worry about what day I celebrate with my kids. I try and be accommodating to them and never make them feel pressured about it because why ruin the day by making them feel upset. I just tell them to give me a day and then I make it about us. I plan something new to do or try. I want them to feel happy, but they know that their dad is not part of my life. He hurt me and I deserve to be respected about that. They have been pretty understanding. Even little kids will get that.

  • To the children.
    “ Daddy didn’t understand when I said no. “
    “You will get to open the presents from him at his house.”
    Fa La La La La La,,

    • I like this answer if the kids are young.

      If the kids are old enough to realize Dad understood perfectly well and is just trying to exert control, then tell them they can either open them now or take them to their own rooms to open whenever they please, but that they won’t be going under the Christmas tree because you are divorced and no longer celebrate Christmas together.

      Either way, don’t respond to your EX about the issue at all. He is feasting on the drama. You want to send the message that you’ll do as you please in your own home and any directions he sends are just static. You don’t even care about his wishes enough to acknowledge them!

      Take heart. In a few years you’ll be past this stage (he’ll still be a Jackass, but he won’t be trying to manipulate you quite so directly anymore).

  • I suspect they original came with the YOU in caps because mine always writes it in italics to make it clear that about something that I am doing that either he doesn’t like or doesn’t have his consents. Awful bullies. Like two year old toddler tantrums.
    He sure doesn’t like you controlling what’s going on does he sane mum.

    Here is my Xmas bullshit.

    Year 1 Xmas last year (background at that point we had earmarked some money that I was saving towards Xmas). What do you want to about the money we have jointly saved for Xmas? Also we should probably discuss what we are both getting her so we don’t get the same thing.

    Response re money: none until next month he just paid me less and told me he had made a decision for that amount.

    Response re discussing what to get her. I doubt we will get the same thing, and if we do, receipts.

    This year. He puts in the diary then going to a gig I ring immediately and say I have got her tickets for that. You know the thing in the calendar the day before that I emailed you about, saying it is an event (we had been talking about gigs I. Email exchange) and I said can I hold that date as I am planning to book something.

    Response: well you didn’t specifically say what it’s for.

    My response. Crickets although felt like dressing up as a judge with a wig and gavel and saying I refer you to the conversation of dec 2018 where you ‘doubt that we will get the same thing’ and took this to mean you didn’t want to co-operate on such matters.

    At least he backed down and agreed that I would go.

    Insanity nation. Mindfuckery over nothing. Leave me out of it thanks. But what else have you got left to paint me as the cruel mean mommy.

  • This year will be the 11th Christmas since I separated from my ex. The first Christmas he was living at his sister’s house, and I was in the midst of moving to a new place. He came and got the kids and took them to his parent’s for a few hours. By the next Christmas he had basically stopped seeing the kids. His relationship was Schmoopie was very volatile and it eventually ended before the divorce was final. It took up a lot of his time, I guess?

    Either way, over the years he stopped seeing the kids and he stopped dropping off gifts. I’m going to suggest that a “man” who is such a huge asshole that he will go away for his son’s birthday and his kids’ first Christmas after divorce is not going to be there for the long haul.

    Sane Mom, I suggest that you do with the presents whatever YOU want to do. Do you have relatives who mail gifts? When do you open those? Do the same with these gifts. Or just tell the kids to open them whenever you want to. I suspect that he has no idea what his kids want and just bought something really random. That’s why he doesn’t want to be there when they are opened.

    • Exactly. I am at year 9. The first year was a showcase of great drama over everything. He made some noise the next two years. By year five we’d reached a point where Dad didn’t even see them for a fifteen months. Now, they are teenagers and much more interested in reconnecting with Dad (I grit my teeth and try not to roll my eyes). But they still won’t see or hear from him on Christmas, unless he sends them a text.

  • I haven’t read CL s response yet but this asshole sounds just like my ex. His latest was to recommend we save for the children’s college education. I told him I can’t afford savings now. (I already do but no way in hell will I join finances with him for anything). He responds that I need to do better. I laughed and I told him so does he especially as it relates to current school expenses. He missed the point.
    But he always comes with some shit trying to appear like a voice of reason but in truth only being a bully. And when I ignore or don’t comply it all falls apart.

  • I’d shut down this back and forth communication. I’m not sure how old your kids are but I would let them know when mom and dad divorced it means we no longer do things together. They get to do dad stuff at his house and mom stuff at your house. It’s just another form of cake for this cheating fuckwit and how he’s justified in his mind it will all go in his favor. They get so angry with consequences.

    And can you imagine being schmoopie and your prize goes to the ex wife’s to decorate the tree like a family man? He likes to keep her dancing too. He’s no prize.

    Your kiddos are going to have to learn how to manage their relationship with him for the rest of their lives. Remove yourself as the buffer. No gifts make their way inside your home.

  • Every year my son (and I, because I go together with him to visit) becomes the mule for presents from exhole AND his former ex-wife #1 AND his current mistress. When we go to visit his sisters and their children who live in another city. Yes, ex-wife#1 buys presents for MY grandchildren. He encourages it- and we all know why. Because the whole world revolves around him.
    It makes me nauseous. He NEVER cared about Christmas, or presents when we were together (for 25 years) But then again, it’s consistent with him making me miserable in some way shape or form every Christmas. At least he isn’t there in person !
    Velvet Hammer’s use of PRESENCE resonates.

    • Hey…you should tell Ex-folks that there’s this thing called the Post Office and they’ll ship almost anything anywhere for you. It’s magical.

  • The first people I think of are your boys. They don’t need to know what you think of their dad. He is just poking you to get a response. Go grey rock. Accept the gifts calmly without comment. When he leaves let the boys open the presents so they don’t have to go under the tree or affect Christmas day.
    Be the sane parent. Always put your kids first when they are young and impressionable. When you reach Meh he won’t be able to mess with your mind. Stay strong. You have your boys at Christmas. How wonderful.

  • Some great comments on this….

    Obviously this guy is a disordered idiot. Probably a narcissist as others pointEd out.

    I think it would be a HUGE mistake to allow those presents in your house. I totally get what others are saying about being the sane parent, but they may have never lived with a true narcissistic person.

    NARCISSIST’S DO NOT STOP. They do not care. He wants to “get you”. It’s not bad enough he cheated, he now wants to annihilate you and humiliate you. That’s his MO….he also wants complete control of you. He is one sick puppy and that whore of his is probably just as bad.

    Only you know what you can tolerate. But this is just the beginning. Set a precedence or I believe he will continue and cross many many lines if you don’t. What is next??? His whore and him showing up at the house unannounced?????? Nope, no, no sireeeeeeeee.

    Open your own damn presents, at your own house. Your presence and your presents are not welcome here anymore. That’s the message I would be saying and conveying without emotion. I always make the mistake of getting emotional and giving my X ammunition to look like he’s the good guy, when in fact he’s a high functioning sociopath.

    Good luck and Merry Christmas. You don’t deserve this treatment. I think the UBT was absolutely correct.

    Protect yourself. Please. If necessary get to a codependency meeting immediately.

  • Your ex-hole is using you to make his absence less noticeable. So on Christmas morning you can hand his gifts to them and say “this is from your dad”. This way the fact that he isn’t around for the holiday/birthday celebration is less painful. Once again, you are there to cover for his shortcomings! “F” that noise!

    I would tell him that if it truly matter to him that his children receive their gifts on Christmas day, to the point that he would be willing to poison the children with “tales of why your MOM is so horrible” than he shouldn’t have booked his vacation on important dates, that are always on the calendar same time every year! And (even tho you wouldn’t) I would let him know that it would be just as easy for you to let the kids know that their father had choices of when to go on vacation and he choose to be with his mistress rather than them!

  • I wouldn’t respond. It took me 1 1/2 to not react to my A**hat’s bad behavior & it’s amazing how much NC has set me free. These Narcs are always three steps ahead with their head games, so he can’t win if you don’t play his game. No response will give him no satisfaction and keep him guessing for his entire trip.

    Then I would take his gifts with no comment & let your kids open them the minute he’s gone, saying: “Daddy is on a long vacation with “AP name” and won’t be here for Christmas, so Santa says you can open them now. Then we can put them in a box and give to Daddy when he’s returned from his trip so you can have them at Daddy’s house.”

    Then make Christmas not only presents, but experience–sledding, movie & popcorn, ice cream & movie at home, bowling……fun times that $$$ can’t buy. And then Christmas 2019 will be the year they spent with mom having a fabulous time.

  • I wouldn’t want to remind the kids of what they don’t have by opening the gifts from an absent father.
    Besides he doesn’t get to run my ship.
    I’d let the kids take them next time they are with him.
    I’d explain to them that they can get to share that joy with daddy.
    Then I’d be shocked as hell that he’s offended that he gets to share the joy of opening those gifts with his kids…. Not.

  • This is so timely for me!

    TODAY, STBX calls me with some BS ‘business’ then wants my ‘opinion’ on what he should do with the special gifts he has bought our three daughters for Christmas. (Let me add that only one of the three is allowing any contact with him and has threatened to go NC if he continues to blameshift and refuse to apologize for lying and cheating with OW.)

    He has had special necklaces made with their birth stones that he wants to give them. One daughter NEVER wears jewelry, so this is a dumb present for her. The other two have pretty specific tastes. They are all either in college or just started first real job and could use cold, hard cash most of all. Barring that, they could use a dinner out or special treat that they can’t afford from themselves right now. Jewelry is just a not what they want or need right now. It is just easy to purchase.

    Anyway, he says he is not sure they will accept a present from him right now, but maybe they would if we said it was from both of us. My response:

    ‘I have no idea if they would accept a gift from you right now. If you are concerned they won’t, maybe you should save them and give them the necklaces next year.’

    I also wanted to add ‘it is no longer my job to help with your gift giving’, but I held off since we are still in divorce negotiations and I don’t want to antagonize him too much.

    I still felt pretty mighty to not so subtly refuse to help him get them to accept his gifts. Not my problem cheater!

    • The bad judgment of your EX just glows from every detail of this tale. Of course, the dad whose daughters aren’t even speaking to him wants them to wear jewelry–one of the most sentimental gifts frequently symbolizing a possessive relationship–from him! Since you don’t mention laughing in his face at the idea you might give the necklaces together, I am guessing you are a very kind person.

  • I know that this is not a popular opinion here, but I think that kids (while they are young), should get to open all of their presents at once on Christmas morning. Christmas is one day a year. This does not need to present (ha) a slippery slope of boundaries situation, nor be a test of parental wills. It is about Christmas for the kids. My opinion.

    • All at once with both parents together? You’re right. Not a popular opinion here. No reason to invite that crazy back in your life once you get rid of it. If the kids celebrate Christmas in two separate locations, then it’s twice the fun right? If dad wants to vacation in the sun during Christmas, then he can celebrate before or when he gets back.

      I’m all for trying to make things happy for the holidays for small children but once you divorce, it means you aren’t together anymore. It’s one of the basic tenets of the decree. Unfortunately children need to learn to live with that and it’s not up to the chump to cover up the wrongs for the cheater.

      Civility, yes. Celebrating together, no. Celebrating for the absent parent because they can’t be bothered to be here-up to the individual chump but I’m with CL on this one. It’s triangulation and it’s a narc trying to impose his will on the family while he jets off with Schmoopie. It’s not her circus or her monkeys anymore. It’s only her job to be the sane and present parent.

      Just my two cents.

  • Sane Mom,

    Not sure if you are reading comments today. First I am sorry. Your story and many others like it make me give thanks daily for wasting 27 years with ex-cheater because when we divorced, our children were adults. I can’t imagine the horror of trying to co-parent with such fuckwits and my heart goes out to each one of you who has to live this daily.

    You are mighty. I can tell by your post. My advice, is not to engage in back and forth with him at all. Though I didn’t have to deal with anything child related with ex during divorce proceedings, I learned that trying to speak to him about anything was futile. It’s not that they don’t see; it’s that they don’t agree (no matter how wrong they are). You can’t change their minds. You’d be more successful trying to get a brick wall to understand you. The results are the same but you wouldn’t expect anything from a brick wall. The same should apply to your ex.

    Speak only in facts regarding the children. Don’t ask, argue or articulate feelings. They know nothing of these things and it’s pointless to think otherwise. If it were me, I’d take the gifts (he’s not giving you any choice); let the kids open them immediately because Santa said it was okay (I love that idea whoever posted it) and save your Christmas for Christmas Day.

    No need for commentary other than Santa saying it was okay, no need to tell the ex what you’re doing. The kids will tell him later and really who cares? If he wants to throw a big, wicked fit over you letting them open the presents early, then so be it. Delete those messages because they don’t have anything important to say. Low contact/grey rock and no reaction is the only way to bore him. Eventually when he realizes what he says or does no longer holds any power over you, he will leave you alone.

    Enjoy the time with your children on Christmas and be happy he won’t be around to spoil it!

  • Thank you friends . I’m having a tough time deciphering why he has become this way. And why he wants to be friendly and friends when clearly he blew my world apart and devastated me and the boys.
    People are so weird. I appreciate every single one of your comments and some of them resonated so
    Deeply with me- aligned with my own thoughts and reinforced my beliefs. When you’re alone in this journey you begin to doubt your sanity and if indeed you are the one being unreasonable.
    Thank you

    • Uh, no. he is an entitled asshole prick. Cheaters make us crazy until we realize we the shit they put us through isn’t normal and we step away and stand up for ourselves. You are totally sane. Don’t ever feel like you are not. You have the morals and values. Your ex is a scumbag. It”s laughable how he is trying to manipulate you into thinking otherwise. He is delusional and likely will always be this entitled prick. CHEATERS ARE ALL THE SAME. Chump Lady’s blog proves it a thousand million times over. Don’t listen to him. Listen to the men and women on this site who give the best advice ever because we have all been there and are each on our own journey of leaving crazy making nonsense behind.

      Your ex is disordered. If you can find humor in the absurdity of his request it might be easier to deal with…

      Merry Christmas to you and your boys!

    • “I’m having a tough time deciphering why he has become this way. And why he wants to be friendly and friends when clearly he blew my world apart and devastated me and the boys.”

      He wants CAKE. He wants to be the center of everyone’s world with NONE of the day-to-day responsibilities or drudgery. Only the fun happy stuff where he twinkles and everyone orbits around His Majesty.

      Ideally (to him) would be this and every Christmas where you and the boys provide him with his family AND everyone is kissing Schmoopie’s ass so he can go talk about how evolved/enlightened they are and that cheating and divorce has only no real consequences or losses (for him) and you and the kids accept the shit buffet.

      He can go fuck himself. He went off to fuck Schmoopie – right? She should be enough for him. He blew apart your family for her after all.

      Grey rock that entitled jerk for the next 18 +/- years. Do not give him what he wants. Go live your life, as Fuckwit free as possible. He doesn’t get to tell you what to do in YOUR HOME.

      Happy holidays to you and your boys. I hope he and Schmoopie pick up a flesh-eating disease and their genitalia slough off.

    • SaneMom,

      You’re not alone in wondering if you’re the sane one or being unreasonable. You have been pushed to the edge of a metaphorical precipice and you’re reeling. You can’t seem to find your mental and emotional balance due to the damage your asshole XH has inflicted on you and your kids w/his treachery. I know, because this was me after what the cheater XW did to me and OUR family, and sometimes still is. I can tell you that it is possible to regain most of the balance you used to have, and very possibly all of it in time.

      Listen to most of the people on here. They’re not kidding when they’re saying that your POS XH is trying to create drama w/you to feed his disordered personality. Give him as little drama back as you can. If you can tell him no and get that to stick, great. Boundaries are absolutely important.

      But If that’s not going to be possible w/out an unacceptable amount of drama for you and/or your kids (and only you can make that decision), I like the suggestions to put the presents in a bag until he comes back from his shameful trip w/the OW, and give them back to him in whatever you think is the best method from the ones mentioned. You’re well within your rights to do that; don’t question yourself on that.

      I’m so sorry you and your kids have to deal w/this. But unfortunately part of getting back up on our feet (more metaphors) after the awful experience of infidelity is learning how to deal w/the fact that we partnered/married a fuckwit (of which there seems to be infinite variations of, but most can be handled by methods that CL and many of the people on this site will offer), and how to deal w/them on an ongoing basis w/out feeding into their desire for drama/cake

      I’m sure all CN will join me in wishing you and your family happy holidays, as well as a good outcome in dealing w/your asshole XH. Keep your chin up (I know. Easier said than done). Please reach out anytime you need to to any of us. We’re here for each other.

  • Personally, I say accept the presents, let the kids open them Christmas Day, and then see what they are. If they are good presents, you can say “Your Dad must want you to have this X-box/Dollhouse/Lego at our house” and if they are annoying presents, you can say “let’s play with this drum kit / karaoke machine /life-size teddy bear for a little bit then pack it up to take to Dad’s house next time you go there.”

    If they’re shoddily wrapped, you could even peek at them ahead of time and decide what to do when you know what they are. But it avoids a fight with him, lets him think he’s won, but lets you control what happens to the presents. You’re basically treating the presents like something that came in the post from a distant relative. Open them Christmas Day with the rest, but don’t make a huge deal out of it.

    Then don’t mention him the whole rest of the holiday, and enjoy not having to share your kids for the entire school break.

    Someone who would rather take a long vacation than spend Christmas with his young children, with no plan to have a delayed Christmas with them when he’s back, probably isn’t going to interfere with future Christmases much either.

  • ‘For the children’ clearly means different things to different people.

    Threesidesachump thinks ‘for the children’ means giving them the damn presents, while cheaterssuck sees this as modelling poor boundaries TO the children.

    I’m with cheaterssuck on this one. Doing the whole present thing is a bit like ‘staying together for the children’ – it’s being done ostensibly for the children, but actually so that the adults don’t feel as guilty or don’t have to stand up and be counted.

    Sane Mom, stick to your guns. If he drops the gifts off, put them in a sack in the cupboard and hand them back unopened when he gets back, next time he’s picking up the kids.

    I suppose the key here is doing it without making a scene. And that depends on how you do drop-off and pick-up. If the kids run out to the car, give them the sack to take with them.

    If Daddy has a thrombo as a result and spends the rest of the day sulking, what a useful life lesson for the kids in question.

    It’s unpleasant, but how else are they going to learn what kind of a man their father is? Especially not if you keep doing his public relations for him in the name of ‘protecting’ the kids.

    Defend your territory and stand up for YOUR boundaries. This is clearly making you uncomfortable, so DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

    Listen to that still small voice inside you, and don’t just stuff it down yet again like you’ve always done before in your marriage.

  • “Oh look what Santa left him under the tree! A big bag of Shut the Fuck Up.”

    Oh, Chump Lady you just made me laugh out loud so hard! Thank you for telling it like it is!!! I/ve been following your advice for years and I AM IN SUCH A BETTER PLACE BECAUSE OF YOU!!!! I feel normal and sane now even though all the shit I went though was anything but normal and sane.

    No contact is the key to freedom. You are the best!! Truly.


  • Thank you friends . I’m having a tough time deciphering why he has become this way. And why he wants to be friendly and friends when clearly he blew my world apart and devastated me and the boys.
    People are so weird. I appreciate every single one of your comments and some of them resonated so
    Deeply with me- aligned with my own thoughts and reinforced my beliefs. When you’re alone in this journey you begin to doubt your sanity and if indeed you are the one being unreasonable.
    Thank you

    • He wants to be friends to control and manipulate u still. Plus he’s getting narc supply aka kibbles from u too by being friends. Low to no contact. Read up on narcissism and personality disorders. It will become clear as day. Protect urself and ur kids he will only cause u more pain. Hugs

    • What ponoco said, plus:

      Don’t untangle the skein of fuckedupness. He’s not your problem any more.

      But if you’ve been in the habit of treating him as the Central Figure in your life with no reciprocation, you’ve been used to doing a lot of one-sided work for a long time.

      Gaining a life isn’t necessarily about learning to ski or climbing Machu Picchu. It’s about reorienting everything so that YOU now matter – and your home, your safety, your boundaries, and your parenting time.

      I think for most Chumps – so used to being second fiddle – this is the greatest but most rewarding challenge.

      Have at it!

  • Sounds like he’s to cheap to buy his own tree to put gifts under with ow or expects wife appliance to do her old job. Fuck’n narc.

    Take the gifts and say they are from Santa or Elf on the Shelf. Just kidding. My Ex keeps pushing on our agreed upon boundaries for the holidays because he has a narc nuclear family with ow and her son now. I call it the fake family. It’s so fucked up.

    I love telling that pos no and our son will have to get used to the new normal. Reap what u sow. Parent him too. Remember he will keep pushing those boundaries. Stay strong.

    U have every right to start new holiday traditions minus ur ex. Ur normal and he is not keep being the sane parent.

    Merry Christmas too! ????????

  • Guess I will throw in my two cents. If he drops off the presents…..I would tell the kids that it is such a pleasure for me to watch them open their gifts that I wouldn’t dream of depriving their dad of of his treat of watching them opening his gifts. So we can just save them for when he gets back…..then hand them back next visitation.

    For him, a short and sweet message……
    Dear asshat ex,
    Sane Mom.

    Well maybe leave asshat out for the sake of brevity.

  • When he drops the kids off and the presents are there, ask the kids if they would like to open their gifts from dad while he is there with them standing on the porch (if he does that). If not get them to open the gifts outside while he is in the driveway so DADDY gets to see how happy the children are with the presents he got them.. it also lets him know that shit wont work anymore.

  • In response to the dad I would just say “no”. Not “no, sorry”, because you don’t owe him a “sorry”. And not “no because ….” because as soon as you put a “because” in there they get to start unpicking. Good luck.

  • Let the kids open the presents on the 22nd after he drops them off. Tell the kids you have separate Christmases now and since he won’t be there at Christmas time, they can have their dad Christmas early.

    Honestly, however maddening it is to your boundaries, making them wait or giving the presents back to him only makes your kids mad at you. You will not seem like the sane parent if you withhold presents.

    Unless your children are very unusual, they will not mind that you go against his wishes to wait. Then a few days later, you can enjoy your son’s birthday and then your family Christmas.

    • Also, don’t try to do this while he is still there. That does not make your kids remember you well. Be the sane parent. Dad goes away and leaves presents behind for them to open on Christmas. You let them celebrate Dad Christmas without conflict a few days early and separately from Mom Christmas.

      • I agree Diana. Kids just want to open presents as soon as they can. Packing them away is just mum being mean. Don’t involve the kids in adult stuff. Let them open the presents as soon as dad leaves.

  • So he’s goi g to push those gifts into your house and insist it’s done his way no matter what….

    I’ve got two potential solutions for you…maybe one of these will work. I assume kids are seeing dad the weekend before he goes on trip. Tell the kids in advance how exciting it is they get to have their own Christmas and birthday (with presents early!) with dad and how excited he is to see them opening them. Send them off all excited to open the gifts….then he looks like the dick he is If he gives them to them and says they are not allowed to open them. So if the come home unopened…..Then you get to be the hero mom and say, you know what, I think you should get to open them now!!

    But that’s involving the kids (As he has is this triangulated fuck fest) Option number two kind of keeps
    The kids out of it. Roll over to him And agree!!. Take the gifts. Then do Whatever you want!! Have the kids open them early on another day and let the kids know how happy you are you get to be there for so many moments of their joy.

    Then move past it and have the birthday and Christmas you want. When he finds out later that you let the kids open them early….you can either just say “they were so excited I just couldn’t disappoint them…their happiness means everything to me”. Or just shrug and say, “oh yeah, I lied….thanks for teaching me so well”!!!

  • Two thoughts.

    If I pay attention and tune into what somebody wants for a present, spend time looking for said present, and pay for the gift, only my name appears on the gift tag or card.

    There are twelve days to Christmas. Didn’t the three magi show up on the twelfth day after the birth bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh ?

    This jackass can do his own celebration in his digs when he gets back from the all important vacay. What a jerk !

  • A couple comments: 1) Remember, a relationship with The Disordered is always a Power Struggle. That’s what this is “I’m still allowed to abuse you in your own home” 2). Be honest with your kids. Again, no need to editorialize. But let them know this is YOUR house, and you are the boss and make the decisions within those 4 walls. My boys are older now, but I tell them “Guys, this house is mine, not your father’s. Everything in it, I paid for and get to decide what we do with it. If I decide I’m going to burn it to the ground, that’s my decision, alone”

    My kids get it now. But you have to enforce boundaries, even with them. Otherwise, they’ll be letting Cheater stroll through your house someday when they’re teens and you’re not home. They can love and be with Cheater in Cheater’s home when he returns. Presents can still be opened when he returns on January 17th. I’ve been a mom now for almost 14 years. I’ve never once experienced giving a gift to a child on a day that is NOT Dec 25th and them stomping on it and refusing it.

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