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STBX Wants to Come Over for the Holidays

Dear Chump Lady,

I am seven months post d-day, which occurred about two days after my husband moved out to live with OW. For the past 4 years he had been a stay-at-home father and student while I busted my rear end to support our family. As a stay-at-home parent he taught our children freestyle art (mostly on the walls), how to surf through thousands of YouTube videos, followed a strict no eating at the table policy and more or less kept the kids alive while he focused on more… titillating things… like sexting other women. My chumpiness knows no bounds!

Our children (3 and 6) do not know he has an OW and have not been to his new home.

For various reasons our children cannot stay with him. His roommates use drugs (likely him too in retrospect). At least one of his roommates can be easily found through a simple search at a very popular pornography website. His OW lost custody of her own children when she left her husband (not her kid’s biological father) to be with my cheater three days before a custody hearing. These people have questionable judgement at best (and who knows what else was going on there?!?). The separation agreement makes clear he cannot have the kids around anyone not related by blood or marriage.

He does spend time with our kids four days a week in my home while I work. Two of those days I’m home in my office, and the other two I’m physically at work. A security system keeps him out of areas of my home I don’t want him to access. I cannot afford childcare — about $2200/month for two kids full-time — (the 6 year old is in remote school until his school district allows face-to-face instruction again). I don’t have family nearby that can keep my kids for me. I’d love some suggestions on how to handle the childcare issue.

The holidays are approaching and per our separation agreement he gets our kids for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. He does not have a job, and does not want to take the kids to see his family for the holidays. Instead, he wants me to cook Thanksgiving dinner at my house and to spend the day here. For Christmas he wants to come to my house in the middle of the night to set up Santa gifts and to spend the day at my home. He wants our kids to have a “normal” family holiday.

The thing is, I’ve spent the past 7 months trying to accept that my marriage is over. I’ve done some serious self-reflection over how I was so blind to all the manipulation, gaslighting and deceit. Meanwhile I feel obliged to compromise my serenity over the holidays because my cheater is more or less a child that can’t get his shit together.

On the one hand I would be spending the holidays alone (thanks, COVID-19) and this arrangement means I get to see my kids open their gifts on Christmas morning. On the other, they don’t have a “normal” family anymore and I know the holidays will be emotionally difficult for me… more so if cheater is around!

What do I do?


Home for the Holidays?

P.S. I have a lawyer and she is great. Fuckwit has signed a quit claim deed for the house we bought together (which has increased in value fairly significantly since he left). He has also waived his “rights” to spousal support (he thought he’d try to get some sort of alimony from me initially) and basically only took his clothes and some video games when he left. Everything he left at our home is mine. He has no rights to my retirement or other savings, etc. It was pretty easy to negotiate once I had proof of his affair (and lots of other unsavory shit I uncovered once I realized I needed to start digging).

Dear Home,

‘Tis the season for Holidays with Fuckwits columns. Every year about this time new chumps ask — do I have to spend holidays with this freak? And the answer is always a resounding NO! NO YOU DO NOT! Welcome to your new liberated fuckwit-free life!

But… but…

He wants our kids to have a “normal” family holiday.

People in hell want a cool drink of water. He can “want” lots of stupid things, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get them. He just feels entitled to them.

He should’ve thought about his kids when he moved out for his OW. But I guess his dick wasn’t thinking in advance of shit like… consequences.

The first holiday during a divorce is pretty rough, I won’t lie, but the good news is that your future is Normal Family Holidays. Because you are a complete family, just minus one fuckwit. You will make your own traditions, like perhaps celebrating Thanksgiving and X-mas on alternate days when it’s not your year, or eating cookies for breakfast, or hosting Elf movie marathons. Whatever your heart desires!

Your issue now is really just about extracting the fuckwit. From your holiday schedule and from your daycare situation.

Let’s go with the easiest one first.

First, you are to be commended for engineering a brilliant settlement 7 months since your D-Day! WELL DONE. And seeing as your signed, enforceable separation agreement states he cannot have the kids around anyone they’re not related to by blood or marriage — and seeing as he lives with the OW (not blood, not Mrs. Fuckwit yet) — and as he has no other living situation (family), he should have to forfeit the kids to you this year.

Nothing in your agreement says he has to be at your house for the holidays, RIGHT?

So, have your lawyer write a letter and abide by the agreement. He needs to make other plans.

Then, have the alternate holiday schedule starts after the divorce is final. And you get them again next year. This should give him some time to sort out his life.

But… but… won’t this make childcare awkward?

Sure. But not as awkward as having to spend time with a fuckwit on the holidays.

But… but… isn’t this a bold power play? And a matter of interpretation of the agreement? Denying him his first year of the holidays? When he’s signed over everything else?

You know what’s not fair? Being abandoned. Being the sole breadwinner and being chumped. Whatever leverage you have on him — use it. Get the holiday you need this year.

Now then, childcare. Ugh. I wish I had a better solution for you. Maybe chumps who are juggling work and virtual learning with small children can weigh in. This arrangement you have sounds like HELL. And must be so confusing to the kids (and your heart!) that he’s around being “dad”, but then he goes home to Schmoopie. How cake-y and delicious for him, what a nightmare for you all.

If it were me, I would resign myself to it as a temporary, COVID-lockdown solution, and look to a long-term solution (schools re-open, there is a vaccine, democracy functions again…) Eat the shit sandwich and keep those office doors locked. He’s a fuckfit and he’s free childcare.

That’s very different than being a plus-one at your Thanksgiving table or on Christmas morning. His services are no longer needed.

He gave you the pink-slip, now you give him one.

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.
    • Do you think she should just wait until the kids are IN the next video? We don’t stand our children on the railroad tracks, leave and hope they get off before the train runs them over.

      At least sane parents don’t.

    • Reese, admittedly the drug use is a much larger issue than the porn-star roommate. The larger picture is that he lives in an environment that is unsavory for children and he and his roommates show poor judgement. My children are very young. The three year old still puts random stuff she finds laying around in her mouth. I shutter to think what she could get into, or be exposed to, at his home.

      • In Australia courts don’t look too favourably on a parent that shares a residence with others (non- partners) and wants overnights . Especially if the kids don’t have their own room – not a safe environment.

    • There is no fucking way I would ever stand for my children to be around people who think porn is ok in any way, shape or form. Don’t care if they’re a porn star or have a subscription.

      The answer is no and I have the say.

      The end.

    • Healthy cognitive functioning and actual female empowerment vibes…that’s what you’re missing. You’re welcome.

      • She will get there. Disordered people can do a number on you, and the breakup is very recent. She is still reeling and has to figure out the childcare thing before she can completely 86 him out of her life. Obviously he blindsided her and she’s much better off without him. The fact that she got such a good settlement shows she DOES have “healthy cognitive functioning and actual female empowerment vibes…”

        • I read Tes’s comment as being aimed more at Reese than at Home? Might be wrong but like you say, Home has already shown she’s had enough wherewithal to make a ton of progress already. And she acknowledges his current home isn’t good for children.

        • I also read Tes’s comment as being directed towards Reese. WeAreTheChumpions, I was certainly blindsided and know I am so much better off without him. OW can have him. He’s her problem now. I feel grateful to have unloaded him with my finances and home more-or-less intact. I was devastated at first but fairly quickly moved towards finding silver linings, and eventually rainbows! lol
          Thanks Shintoga and WeAreTheChumpions for your support!

    • How exactly would she know porn wasn’t be filmed in the apartment? You think the fuckwit’s going to volunteer; “By the way, my friend is filming the sequel to Twisted Fisters out on the terrace today, dahhhling. You might want to stay away if you’re allergic to farm animals. Toodles! I’ll bring the kids back at 8.”
      Yeesh. Some common sense please.

  • My XW fought over every little detail excluding things written in state LAW. ???? off to you getting him to sign it. Be prepared that he won’t watch the kids if you fight him on the holidays. Which is what I would do. Hope everything works out. A divorce isn’t perfect. You have to eat ???? sandwiches at times.

      • You are absolutely correct in that I am saving a ton of money on childcare costs… and quite frankly would have to finance a good deal of it without some sort of creative solution. I’m don’t know if he understands the leverage he has over me with the childcare issue… if he stopped watching the kids suddenly I really don’t know what I’d do. Ugh.

        • You have leverage too! He’s an unemployed drug user who lives with other drug users. I hope others have a good solution for childcare…..

        • What about starting up a childcare co-op group where you watch other member’s kids on days you’re home in return for you watching theirs on days you’re free? I bet there are lots of people who’d love to set up something like that. You’d have to all be Covid tested and commit to strict mask wearing and distancing rules, but think of ot this way; they are likely to be much safer from Covid than the fuckwit who is around porn performers, druggies, and by the sound of it, may be a druggie himself.

          • OHFFS I like the idea of a childcare co-op. My job requires me to be pretty focused during the day, but I might could hire a nanny just for the days I’d have other people’s kids? That would certainly be more affordable. I’ll have to think on this.
            As for the COVID safety aspect… the local daycares do not enforce social distancing or mask wearing for the kids. Staff have to wear masks, but even the older kids don’t around here. My neighborhood also largely thinks COVID is a made up political play for power. I am in a strict minority here. I think the COVID risk between outside childcare options, a co-op, nanny share or having Fuckwit continue to watch them is more or less a wash.

            • I don’t know if this is an issue for your schools but a significant number of our students don’t have reliable access to internet for distance learning. I know some families that do have invited extra students to share wifi in exchange for child care assistance. Just a thought

              • That’s a great suggestion! I can call the school on Monday to ask if there are any families they know of in need of wifi! Great suggestion!

    • I think he would do that yes.
      Other alternative is that you leave the house and go to friends for the holidays. Let him arrange dinner etc for the kids. Because you making family dinner is another benefit for him, is my guess.
      So long as this situation is not solved for daycare, you’re going to have to compromise. As soon as that’s solved: you’re on your own buddy!

      • This is a good idea. Someone else suggested maybe staying in a hotel that day… that sounds heavenly, actually! No kids for the day, no STBX to deal with. No cooking. Instead I get room service, bubble baths and champagne! Sounds like a love Christmas present to myself.

  • “He does not have a job, and does not want to take the kids to see his family for the holidays.”

    Oh, so he does have options but he doesn’t like them. Tough shit. If he wants the kids for the holidays, then he takes them to his family. Otherwise, he doesn’t see them on the holidays.

    I bet your great lawyer can dash something off that will fit on a post card and is simple enough for your FW to understand.

    Childcare – ugh – any chance of setting up a small group of equally-stuck parents from one of the kids’ classrooms to go round-robin with you? Or can you find a boarder who can provide childcare in lieu of rent? Less than ideal, I know, but possibly better than FW. Maybe a college student in the area, or another adult whose job has disappeared but would jump at the chance of earning some money?

    You rock. Seven months and you have legally gotten out of the marriage, with most of your finances intact and protected from him.

    • She’s got an agreement where the kids can’t be around anyone they aren’t related by blood or marriage. Kind of shoots herself in the foot as far as childcare.

      • She says her separation agreement says HE cannot have the kids around anyone not related by blood or marriage. We don’t know if that’s a restriction that applies to her. If it doesn’t this idea of finding someone to live in is a good one.

      • The language in the separation regarding not having the kids around anyone unrelated by blood or marriage is specific to the section regarding holidays. Also, that language is specific to him, not to me. So I’m good there.
        I hate the idea of having someone move into my home but it could solve the childcare issue without having STBX around all the time.

        • Ah, thanks for the clarification. And good job.

          If you have a college nearby, maybe contact them and see if they know of anyone looking for a situation such as yours. Perhaps a co-worker knows someone? Would you qualify for any kind of child care assistance?

          • I earn just enough that I do not qualify for any sort of child care assistance, but certainly not enough to actually afford to pay for fulltime daycare for the two kids. One would be pushing it, honestly. I’ve seen some good ideas in the comments like reaching out to mothers groups on social media, considering childcare co-ops with other parents in the area and nanny sharing. I’ll have to do some creative budgeting and look into some of these as possible solutions to the childcare issue. Thanks!

        • Gentle 2×4. You hate the idea of having someone move into your home. More than having a slime weasel drug user who you know lies and cheats watch your kids while you work? He was able to cheat on you. He is probably savvy enough to override your security system.

          Make him get a job and split the childcare. It may cost you but some money just isn’t worth it.

          You are continuing to enable his entitlement. It doesn’t really help anyone.

          You seem to still have cognitive dissonance at some reading on the subject. Why does he do that? By Lundy Bancroft is a good start and Stop caretaking the borderline/ narcissist by margalis Fjelstaf. Stop even considering his wants and needs, they are his problem. Continue what you started with a kick ass settlement and think about what is best for you and your children- distancing yourself from this creep!

          • Agreed. You got a great deal on keeping the house and contents and no alimony for him. BUT you should be able to get some child support since you have the kids most of the time.

            • If he was the primary childcare provider prior to the separation, it will be hard to get much child support out of him in many states. Frankly, I am impressed she managed to avoid paying alimony! I think she is wise to leave well enough alone on trying to get support. Once that issue is on the table, either party can move to change it on the grounds it is in the best interest of the children.

              • I am in a state in which cheating spouses are automatically denied alimony
                unless the cheating is condoned or both parties were unfaithful. I had to find undeniable proof, and was able to get a written (through text) and verbal (recorded) confession from him once I presented him with the evidence. He really didn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of alimony. His OW was pushing for the alimony.

                My attorney suggested we leave child support out of the separation agreement and to pursue it once the divorce is final (separation here must be at least a year before a divorce can be filed). We used it as a bit of a bargaining chip when drafting the separation agreement, and as he is unemployed he’d only owe me $50/month anyways. I agree… it’s better to leave it alone for now. I also suspect as soon as I press the child support issue he will try to challenge the custody arrangement and I don’t want that headache right now.

          • Feelingit, thank you for the gentle 2X4! I need more tough love these days! I am familiar with the term cognitive dissonance but have not done a bit of introspection from that perspective. I’ll check out the reading suggestions! Thank you so much!

        • I totally get why the familiar seems better than the unfamiliar. You know what the problems with him are, but he’s a known quantity. You don’t have this same level of knowledge with a new person, and you will have to work through the situation with a new person. However, if I may so, from my experience, this conflict between the known quantity and the unknown is also part of what can hold us back from change, both in leaving our marriages and in building new lives. We fear the unknown, and are unable to imagine the good things that might result, so we stay with the known, even when it’s not good for us.

          It seems to me that you have done a lot of good boundary setting and “unchumping,” but from what you say it seems to me you are still in that process, in that you are still leaning toward accommodating what he wants, and then rationalizing it (“If I do this, I get Christmas with my kids”), feeling pressured by what “he wants” (and feeling a need to defend yourself against that, as if you are under some obligation to consider what he wants as primary), minimizing his disorder (it’s not just that his roommates use drugs–there’s a reason he’s living with them!), and spackling and untangling the skein for him (“he can’t get his act together so I have to do this”).

          I don’t say this as criticism, but to point out what might also hold you back from considering other options for childcare, whether it’s a round robin with colleagues or parents from your child’s school, or a live-in person, maybe a mother with a child who has lost her job and would be grateful to have a place to live. All of them would entail compromise, but you are compromising now. Maybe the covid stress makes sticking with your present childcare arrangement necessary. I hope, though, that you’ll find alternative arrangements for Christmas.

          • Adelante, thank you for this comment. I am certainly still in the process of unchumping. I’m a bit of a master at rationalizing unreasonable situations into something that feels okay to me. It’s going to take a lot of work to break myself of that habit. Chump Lady posting my letter, her feedback, and all of the comments from Chump Nation are helping me to identify some areas of much needed self work. Thank you!

    • I just returned to the states from Europe, which I loved, but the virus more or less forced me back before I was ready (AND Yes I know that’s a first world problem). So as I look at teaching jobs versus attorney work, (not licensed in law where I am), I’ve been thinking about teaching here. I have experience, not to mention being a mom. And I LOVE teaching!

      So I’d love to start an in home school for maybe a half dozen kids. Yes we’d socially distance in my house and wear masks and learn in a safe FW free environment and allow the chump parent to work and stay sane. Obviously preference would be given for Chump’s kids. (Christ, I’d probably do it for free for a chump in crisis).

      But how does one advertise for “Chumps Only” students?

      And, what if a FW came to the door to pick up (abduct?) a chumpy child without agreement from the Chump??

      Good luck with that.

      I suppose I could promise to use pepper spray FIRST (before progressing to a baseball bat, ETC) and I’d certainly aim it well. No collateral damage to others, as we chumps consider things like that.

      But I digress…what a tangent

      • Nice idea! When I was wedding out curriculum, I advertised it toward single homeschool parents. I struggled and wanted to help other who were going it alone. I’d rather give what they may need before consigning it.
        If you’re looking for an income, it may be hard on single parents at this time unless you do a sliding scale. There are plenty of intact families that would love your offer as well. My dentist needs his staff and provided certified tutors for their kids in his home. Everyone is trying to figure it out. My heart goes out to families with kids of any age in school/college.

      • DOCTOR’s1stWife&3Kids this is a lovely idea! I am sure there are lots of parents who would take you up on such an offer. My sister opened a virtual academy and had it accredited so that she can teach her kids at home and make some money teaching other kids. My state has a voucher system so parents can chose to send their kids to charter and private schools. She made the tuition equal to the school voucher amount offered by the state for lower income parents. I don’t know if you have any teaching credentials in your area, but that would help you to attract some kids.
        As for advertising specifically to chumps with kids… does Chump Nation have a private Facebook group or anything along those lines? Would she be okay with such an advertisement?

    • I LOVE that he expects her to cook dinner AND only cares that the kids have a “normal holiday.”

      Well, safe to say that will never happen again IF he means “normal” for HIM, which is of course, exactly what he means.

      Supremely entitled man child. Ugh.

      Bravo for getting a good lawyer and a good deal – now ENFORCE that with a slight twist on interpretation. As he “cannot meet the agreed upon terms for having the children around X, Y, Z, other arrangements must be made OR the children will spend this holiday with mother AND this shall not affect future SCHEDULED holidays…”

      Not your problem he cannot meet the conditions HE agreed to. There’s a word for that which he has not yet learned – “consequences” asshole.

      • I would be very strategic about WHEN to send this letter to him. The sooner you send it the more time he has to argue with you. What about crickets for several weeks and then drop the lawyer’s letter on him closer to Christmas?

        I am reminded of the sign at the London Zoo..just replace “animals” with “me”:

        “Please do not annoy, torment, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, harass, heckle, persecute, irk, bullrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize, or ruffle the animals.”

        • Chumpella de Ville,
          “Please do not annoy, torment, pester, plague, molest, worry, badger, harry, harass, heckle, persecute, irk, bullrag, vex, disquiet, grate, beset, bother, tease, nettle, tantalize, or ruffle the animals.”
          This is hysterical! I love it!

  • Dear HFTH,

    I fell in to this trap. I hadn’t yet discovered Chump Lady, sadly. Mr. Sparkles moved out in October so he could go after his twu wuv… only, she had two young kids and wasn’t ready to have him around for the holidays… so guess what he did… exactly what you’re cake-eating X is doing… “let’s do it for the kids”… and what a shit show it was… he and my teen stepchildren came over on Xmas eve for a dinner I prepared… we went to midnight church as a “family”… came back to my house and tucked everyone in… X slept on the couch. Xmas morning was WEIRD and AWKWARD for everyone (our son was 9 and even he knew it didn’t make sense)… SO anyway, Xmas morning… presents unopened and I’m cooking a big Christmas lunch while Mr. Sparkles TAKES A NAP… seriously… and then… the piece de resistance… right after Xmas lunch he has to go… ‘cuz the OW had just dropped her kids off with her X and was now free for a holiday fuckfest. And guess how that made me feel on Christmas Day… yup, like a big old pile of reindeer poop.

    The second Xmas, all the kids had met and I was alone while he took “everyone” to all the holiday lights shows we used to go to as a family (because he doesn’t have one original thought of his own)… and by the third Xmas they had broken up because she found out he was cheating on HER = Karma Sled came that year.

    Trust me… you “taking one for the team” or avoiding being alone isn’t going to bring holiday magic and happy tidings to your home. More than likely, if you say no thank you to your fuckwit… he’ll back off and you’ll still have the kids because he won’t do the work… and if he DOES… it is ONE DAY… the kids will start to learn who the sane parent is and you can take a breath, enjoy a bubble bath, watch a movie… whatever your joy is… because I know from experience, full-time single parenting is exhausting!

    I know it is hard, but he chose this… not you. Let him have his cake elsewhere.

    • Not nearly as dramatic, but in the first week after XW moved out I allowed her to come back for dinner three times, once for a kid’s birthday and another couple of times because her kitchen wasn’t set up, I was hoping that we could establish some sort of cordial relationship, etc. Of course I cooked, but since I always cooked I wasn’t too surprised.

      I had this idea – incredibly naive, in retrospect – that because she’d moved out her attitude would have changed. She would offer to set the table. She would thank me for for making dinner. She would put her phone away and participate in family dinner. I wasn’t so deluded to think she would suddenly realize I was a good husband and want to reconcile, but I though she would behave in the normal, polite way that any *guest* in my home would behave. Of course none of that happened. She continued to surreptitiously text under the table during dinner. She sat openly texting while the kids cleared the table and did the dishes. Basically, in her opinion nothing had changed at all – except that she’d created her own space where she could freely see the AP while they waited for their respective divorces to come to fruition.

      She hasn’t been invited back since.

      I guess the lesson is: they are who they are. I don’t say no one can change ever, but it’s not going to happen in a week or a month or even in seven months. The only way to change the dynamic is to change the situation, which (for everyone here) means cutting out the ex and making your own life, which includes holiday arrangements.

      • This xmas will be my first time away from the kids. My STBXW has asked if I want to stay over on xmas eve and she’d like that. This the same woman who cheated on me with near 20 people with her daily sexting, asking some to hook up, continued having an affair despite being caught several times and even caught her tinder profile and then had me arrested and removed from the home for a malicious false domestic allegation, but she thinks it would be nice for me to stay over. It’s like many cheaters live in this fantasy lala land.

        • The first one is tough, I’m not going to lie. If there is any possible way to spend it with parents or siblings, do it.

        • Stating the obvious here…..after that false allegation you can’t be alone with her. She fucked that up too.

          • I will most definitely not be alone with her. I will probably go to my parents for xmas. My STBXW now spends her time emailing me how much she misses me and how she regrets everything and constantly asking me if I am dating. Non stop with asking about if there is another girl in my life. I’ve no idea why I fell for this parasite.

      • Dear IG, your first holiday following d-day made me cringe and would be the exact prescription written by the Divorce Busters crowd. Ask me how I know? Two years post d-day/divorce later and so much happier with no contact.

      • I am all for no contact, no longer a family, setting boundaries. But in this case it might be better to eat the last shit sandwich until the divorce is final. You are in a good spot for the, good established job, primary custody in light of his lifestyle. You piss him off and loose the childcare…you could end up in financial ruin or loose your job and the house. You can “demand” that he pay for half, that you get the kids on holiday without him,etc and hope to find other childcare….. or suck it up now and have your demands met in final legal divorce(job for child support, supervised visitation due to his environment, full custody). Then you can call the shots and enforce boundaries, and you will have the law to back you up. I’d hate to see you loose what you gained with an “in your face” attitude. Sometimes its worth it to be patient.

  • Only CL could come up with these gems (truth in jest):

    “People in hell want a cool drink of water. He can ‘want’ lots of stupid things, it doesn’t mean he’s going to get them. He just feels entitled to them.”

    “He should’ve thought about his kids when he moved out for his OW. But I guess his dick wasn’t thinking in advance of shit like… consequences.”

  • The first holidays separated and apart from your kids are the worst. BUT you can have Christmas at your house with just the 3 of you. CL is right, he doesn’t have the legal right to have them this year because of the custody agreement, don’t deviate from that or it will be years of manipulations. Don’t let him push boundaries and keep taking advantage of you.

    I found out my ex was cheating in April, read “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life” in May, filed for divorce in June and kicked him out. He had the nerve to ask to spend the 4th of July with me and the kids. Then wrote me this long sappy email about how he envisioned our Christmas, me hosting (of course!) and us all getting along while he brought his current F buddy to share in the festivities. I think this was all damage control for his image, “See it isn’t so bad! She invited me to Christmas. Love wins!”

    He isn’t your problem anymore. Do what makes you happy. Or try to remember what it was that made you happy before you lost yourself in an abusive relationship. Trust he sucks!

    It will get better- hugs!!

  • The first post-separation Christmas, when I suspected he was living with Craigslist “Sole Mate” (he was), I fell for this. Presents only….not dinner.


    I did it for my daughter, however, because I have a
    big giant empathetic heart.

    I have not done it since. He happily threw our family into a wood chipper.

    Consequences suck for the cheater and help me to heal. It’s called JUSTICE.

    What crook wants to give up the loot and pay the consequences?

    Too bad, Mofo.

    Have a holly jolly with your blow up dolly.

    • I forgot to mention that I am always left speechless and stunned by the irony that holidays mean so much to cheaters, whose behavior is the abject antithesis of the meaning of these events. The lack of gratitude and “peace on Earth, good will toward all” on their part should forever disqualify them from any participation.

        • Damn Velvet (and hello Spinach!!)

          Holly Jolly with your blow up Dolly caused a spit take here!

          Justice is a funny thing and I now realize we have to “reframe” things so that we see it even though we thought/hoped it would mean a groveling apology, true change, (you know, a unicorn).

          But it means NOT having shit sandwiches anymore. And IF IF IF the cheaters have their own shit sandwiches and actually realize it, all the better.

          But not within our control.

          HFTH – please learn from the hard won lessons here.

          Good luck with the child care situation, I bet there are people in your area who would help you more than you realize.

      • But they’re….sparkly. Like stripper glitter.

        Lights, attention, validation, GIFTS FOR THEM, literal cake! One-upping people with presents! Family drama and forcing shit sandwiches down people’s throats or THEY look like the Grinch! Delicious buffets cooked by their long-suffering women! What’s not for a narcissist to love??

        • Exactly! This should be the message sent to every narcissist in their Christmas card as a friendly reminder to have a great holiday–their way.

      • Not surprised by my ex. His Mom married 4 times and his Dad married 4 times (we didn’t even know he had died till 2 years later) Thought 38 1/2 years of being with him and 37 years married would save me from this crazy. His OW is his Mom made over!

      • Yes, the Holidays mean so much to them. All those years of special Holiday celebrations that you put together, created, cooked, cleaned up for, prepared, wrapped, set – up, ate In-Law shit sandwiches for and then cleaned up afterward (physically and emotionally) – and that they destroyed every chance they got. NOW those Holidays are super special for the children???…..NOPE nopedy nope nope!!!

        I’m divorced. I don’t do that shit anymore.

  • Lol, of course his plan is to have you cook TWO feasts for him.

    When you draft that well advised letter from your lawyer CL suggests – don’t be surprised if he gets genuinely upset. But don’t be fooled, it won’t be because of christmas and it won’t because of the kids, it will be because there is no one to cook HIM dinner.

  • Thanks, everyone. I am so glad I found Chump Lady! I know the childcare issue is not ideal. It would have been impossible for me to function this way right after he left. I moved myself and our kids to my parent’s house when two weeks after he left the schools went to remote learning. I don’t think I could have functioned without making that move. I was able to work remotely through the summer but had to move back home in August when reporting physically to work was required again. My family is my rock and staying with them for five months made all the difference in the world for me in finding some peace and clarity. They live too far away to provide childcare for my kids though. I wouldn’t see them until the weekends and that is just not acceptable to me.

    I am bracing myself for a rough time on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I may well just tell him he’s welcome to see the kids on those days, but he needs to take them to see his mom or find something else to do with them. Or maybe I can tell him he has to take care of the food. Or I can cook for the kid’s and toss him a frozen lasagna (hehehe).

    • Don’t cook shit. If you’re going to let him see the kids for a few hours that’s fine….take the kids to McDonald’s later if he can’t make dinner plans for them.

      He wasn’t that concerned with normal holidays when the choice was the kids or his dick. You’re going to have to start a new normal.

      I notice that he didn’t offer to cook….that says a lot.

      The good news is that your kids are little and they’ll adjust.

      • I agree, there is no way in hell you should cook for that bastard. Really, it’s fucking insulting. Enough! You need to look after yourself. My first Xmas last year was sad but I made it through and you will too. You are way too entangled with this fuckwit to heal your wounds. If you have to do it slowly, then do it. He will react and become an asshole, but you need to start doing it. If you think it’s good for your kids, I disagree. You need to be a role model by being mighty. You can do this! Your kids are young and you can make a lot of choices about how you get through that day. Cooking a traditional dinner should not be on the cards if he’s anywhere near you. Fuck him. Said with lots of love.

    • I read an article in Wall Street Journal about negotiating with work on getting more work at home time. Maybe that could work for you. At least you’d see less of the entitled narcissistic FW! You are might btw! I wish I had been as savvy 3 years ago! I hope you have a FW free holiday????

    • Just a thought and more for long term future than than right now, but have you thought about moving to be nearer to your family? I moved a couple of hundred miles away from my con-artist Ex to be near mine and I’m so glad I did. Not only did it mean I had their love and support during the aftermath of the breakup but it put distance between us to stop him meddling between my child and me (could he be bothered to visit long distance? Hell no. He wasn’t going to drive all that way, the lazy toerag). It also meant I had a support system for my child and I, which has been invaluable.

  • I have not had a chance to read the replies yet. But maybe you could’ve find another Mom ( or Dad ) to swap daycare needs with.
    There just might be somebody else in your children’s school district, church, neighbourhood or whatnot who could benefit from it as well.
    It’s a lot more work, but Fuckwit free.

    I did this when my daughter was little and our daycare provider took too many last minute personal days.

    Best of Luck ❤️

  • To me, the first holiday season was the hardest. It did not help that I basically kicked him out of the house in October. So, everything was very fresh. But we survived.
    I now had another holiday last year and that was perfect. Just me and the kids. No stress. I never understood why my ex needed to always make everything so stressful. But it was the constant demands, the unwillingness to compromise, the fact that we always had to spend holidays with his family instead of making our own traditions.

    I will never live with anyone who does not respect my desires and needs. Someone that will always bully his way through.

    • “I never understood why my ex needed to always make everything so stressful.”

      I can relate. Maybe they really can’t help themselves? My ex made virtually every day stressful or at least unpleasant (when I close my eyes I see him stomping around and scowling), but, ah, the holidays seemed to bring out the worst in him. Even the act of choosing what Christmas music to play was fraught. So much for peace, love, and joy!

      Anyway, now he’s with the OW. Not my problem anymore. The lack of stress is divine.

      Hoe, Hoe, Hoe!!!

      • Xmas was always bad for me too. One year on Xmas Eve morning, I hit my head on the bathroom sink and knocked myself out and got a big cut. The doctor said I had to be on bed rest because I had a concussion and a big laceration and bruising that caused me to look like I’d been in a boxing ring. Well, that night we had a bunch of guests coming for dinner who also don’t have families (we live overseas) and it was really important to me that we didn’t cancel the dinner for everyone. So I asked my fuckwit husband if he could manage to do the ham if I told him what to do while I sat on the couch with an ice pack like the doctor said. But, NOOOOOO, he wouldn’t help me and instead told me that I was an anxious freak for still wanting to have Xmas dinner. I explained that I could literally sit on my ass and I could teach him how to do the ham and everyone else was bringing the other dishes so he only had one thing. I texted my friends and they all said they would help clean up. He refused, so I had to call a friend, crying, and she came and did the fucking ham. My friends never forgot that and they still bring it up. It’s proof to them what a dick he was, even though he was generally so jolly and fake and wore a god damn Santa hat. I literally sat on the couch, crying for two days with a concussion and a big, throbbing cut on my head trying to figure out why he wouldn’t help me. That one is dramatic, but honestly, every Xmas left me feeling like he was somehow disappointed after I ran around doing everything. Xmas alone is sad, but at least it’s not filled with abuse. Why do we put up with that shit?

  • Mine fessed up in October.

    In December I was living in the house, and he was with the OW in an apartment. We had the house on the market, and, he had to come back frequently to get stuff and pack his shit. I would make myself scarce.

    During one such return to the house, he saw that I’d had the audacity to put up a Christmas tree. He left me a pissy note about it.

    Guess he thought I should be curled up in a ball and avoid all holidays.

    Yes, the kids (adults with spouses and one grandchild) came to my house to celebrate Christmas. We had a great time. We created some new traditions! No one missed him. Everyone could breathe more easily. No drama. No walking on eggshells. No watching him stomping around.

    We’re all free. We’re creating new memories.

    Good luck to those of you with minor children. I know it’s hard. I can’t imagine. Hugs to all of you!

      • Mine told me my tree was “ugly” and he “would have done a better job” of setting it up. *insert eye roll here* Whatever! My tree was beautiful and had all brand new ornaments, so there was nothing he had touched on my first Christmas tree since he walked out. My guess is that he didn’t even have a tree because that would take some effort.

        They will try anything to upset you or get under your skin. When I laughed at him and his idiotic comment, he was furious. Oh well. I hope the OW is ready for all the holiday work that she will be doing by herself, while dealing with him and his narcissistic, passive aggressive mother. You wanted him little girl, you got him!

        Now, back to my happy, peaceful, full fuckwit free life. Ahhhhhhhhh 🙂

  • The first Christmas after we separated, now Ex-Mrs LFTT said that our 3 children should spend the Christmas period with me “because she couldn’t bear the thought of me being alone.” This was clearly her way of saying she would be too busy shtupping her AP and living the free and easy responsibility free life she craved. She said, however, that she would have them at New Year, to which I agreed.

    I ran an awesome Christmas for the kids and I, and she then bailed at less than 24 hrs notice on having them for New Year. Her reasons were patently BS, but (suspiciously) cleared more time for her to spend with AP and some of our “Switzerland Friends.” Whatever; I ran an awesome New Year too.

    In the four Christmas/New Year periods since then the kids (two of whom are now adults) have always spent the holidays with me. She doesn’t get a look in and, were she to ask, the answer would be whatever Anglo Saxon I could find for “no!”


    • This year I’m trying to push my daughter to go with Ex Asshat. He bitches all the time that he doesn’t have any special time, and then he bails like your ex does. So, I’ve just sent him an email saying how great it would be if he could have the holidays with our daughter. That is partially because I am planning a beach holiday (live in the Southern Hemisphere) for myself. If he refuses, I’ll pack with my daughter and bring her to the beach with me. Win-win!

      • FKA,

        I am dealing with 2 issues (still): Ex-Mrs LFTT’s tendency to bail on arrangements at the last safe moment and; the fact that the children pretty much refuse to overnight at her place (this is a particular red line for the youngest), as she now lives with her AP.

        As a consequence, I let the eldest two (both adults now) chose what they want to do (which is largely avoid her AP like the plague and minimise their exposure to their mother). While I strongly encourage the youngest (now 17) to spend time with her mother, she prefers the occasional day trip (about once a month) to overnighting or extended exposure.

        Unfortunately, Ex-Mrs LFTT’s behaviours have come home to roost as regards her relationship with our children …… but she maintains that it is all my fault, because she refuses to accept that her actions and decisions have consequences and that our children have agency; both in moral terms (if she behaves badly towards them they have the moral right to withdraw access to protect themselves) and legal terms (once the reach the age of 18 they are adults and have every right to tell her to get stuffed).

  • We put so much stock in holidays, but really, they are such artificial creations of society.

    If he can’t take the kids somewhere for his holiday access, a family member, a hotel, whatever, he may have to forfeit his first year.

    He’s made his offer (he behaves like an entitled houseguest while you do all the work) now you make your counteroffer. Maybe he doesn’t have to forfeit his entire time with them, but he can’t expect to just spend his full access at your house.

    For Thanksgiving, invite him over only for the Thursday meal. He shows up at 3pm and leave at 7pm or something. It’s not extra work to just make bigger portions of what you were going to make anyway. Tell him to bring dessert. If he does, hooray, and if he doesn’t, the kids know whose fault it is when the best part of the holiday meal is missing. If you have any family traditions you’d like to continue, do them on the Friday, or the weekend, without him. And have all the pie then.

    If that goes well, then for Christmas, invite him over only for Christmas day. He shows up at 10am and leaves at 7pm or something. Again, just make bigger portions so you’re not putting in extra work, and he’s in charge of bringing dessert. And again, do your own family traditions on another day. Oh, you did present opening Christmas Eve already, but the kids can open the things he brought for them. You make yourself scarce for a few hours, busy in the kitchen, or relaxing in a bubble bath, whatever. You may find that when the kids are busy with the presents, and he gets bored, he just takes off to be with OW and skips dinner.

    If he behaves poorly at Thanksgiving, tell him that you will not repeat the experience at Christmas. Make sure he knows that ahead of time.

    It’s not about what he wants. It’s about what you want, and what’s best for the kids. Giving him some time in your home might be what’s needed for him to not mess up the childcare for the rest of the year. But you don’t have to do nearly what he’s asking for!

    But honestly, if you can get through having him in your home four days a week, you can get through a couple of other days. Make sure he knows this is a one-time offer, and he’s got to have his life in order by the time his next holiday access comes along.

    • I like this advice (although I’d probably limit him to a 4 hour window on Christmas as well as Thanksgiving).

      Normally, I’d vote for setting firmer boundaries, but with the pandemic, lots of healthy options are off the table, and since you are tied to him for childcare for another six months until schools and daycares are reliable again, I suggest accepting his presence in your home over the holidays in a very limited way.

      If having a single friend over during the times your EX is around would help your mental health, I encourage you to do so. Your EX is likely to want to play “happy family,” and having someone else around to keep clarifying that this is your home and some people are just guests might also be helpful. Your friend can be charged with arranging to leave at the appropriate time and usher him out the door when they leave, etc.

      • I like the idea of a single friend (or two or three if room permits) over as well. Besides being a help for you, it is a lovely sharing of family for folks who might be without. And they can definitely be useful to end the gathering – in the past, I’ve tasked friends at dinner parties to be sure that they did not leave until an awkward acquaintance was out the door and it works really well (helped that they were bachelors with the threat of never being invited for a home-cooked meal again if they didn’t cooperate!).

        • I forgot to add – that is ONLY if you decide to associate with him – saying “No” to cooking for him is also a good option. My ex and I split in 2017 – the first Christmas we and our daughter (university age) were invited to dinner with our friends/adopted overseas family. He declined (apparently saying he thought it would be too awkward for my daughter and I). But he accepted an invite to a noontime traditional Christmas dinner cooked by my daughter and I on the 24th. He showed up late (no surprise there), opened the thoughtful gifts from daughter and I (I signed mine from myself and our dog), gave our daughter gifts purchased on a cruise he and AP took together (yeah, she wasn’t impressed either), gave me a pair of beds socks (which were soft – but shed constantly so were quickly disposed of), ate dinner and was out the door in less than 2 hours. Seriously, we shouldn’t have bothered (20/20 hindsight).

          The next Christmas (2018), I was in the kitchen when he came by to exchange gifts with our daughter on the 26th or 27th. I shut the door to the kitchen, and expected that our daughter would invite him into the living room where the Christmas tree was set up. I found out later that they exchanged gifts on the front porch. She did not invite him into my home.

          Think of how you want to work the holidays that is best for you and your children. He is no longer a part of that tighter-knit family.

  • Be strategic. Calmly say, no thank you to his Christmas ideas. No, explanation, excuses or arguing. Just that won’t work for you. Hopefully he will continue childcare. If not mention ( in grey rock form) you may have to sue for child support if he won’t do it. Then, silently look for child care, a chump with a child, a grandma who needs money. Find quality care. Then fire him.

  • Oh dear God why would you let him darken your door on Christmas? It’s horrible enough that you’re forced to let him be nanny bot in your house.

    A big resounding NO to cooking holiday dinner while he plays bargain basement super deadbeat dad and pretends the gifts you bought the kids are from “both of you” or from “Santa.”

    If he starts dropping the ball regarding the kids as his drug use spirals, think about getting full custody and moving closer to your family.

    Never get roped into play normal “for the kids.” You’ll just be a miserable shell of yourself on those occasions and kids pick up on it.

  • Your ex is three years old. I had a therapist explained all this to me because we were discussing Weinstein. She said that they can put nouns and verbs in sentences. They can drive cars. They can’t even hold jobs. What they can’t do is be an adult. They hit the skids at about three and they’ve stayed there. What happens is that they see everything from a child’s point. “Me do it by meself!” Does that ring a bell? That’s him in a nutshell. He wants what he wants when he wants it and he’s going to stomp his foot and get it! There’s no fixing him because he is three. As long as you have to deal with him please keep in mind that you are dealing with an emotional three-year-old. It will help you not lose your mind.
    Do what CL and CN say. 33 million and counting can’t be wrong.

  • My ex did the same thing. The first year I let her come over and open presents with them, and then she had to leave. In the afternoon, I came over to her place and played with the kids and their new toys for a couple of hours.
    The next year, though, I just said no. She had to do things separately. She wasn’t happy about it, but life went on.

  • Since you’re relying on him for child care and his home is unsafe, I wouldn’t overturn the apple cart just yet by saying no to the holidays.

    As an alternative, tell him he can celebrate the holidays at your house but you won’t be present and you certainly won’t cook. He can cook or order takeout.

    If visiting family or friends isn’t an option for you, rent a hotel room and soak up to your neck in a bubble batch while drinking champagne.

    And definitely say no to him coming over on Christmas Eve like a creepy Santa Clause. He can bring gifts over when he arrives.

    Once there’s a return to normalcy of some sort and you no longer need him for child care, you can take the “tough shit” approach suggested by CL.

    • I like these ideas too. With the pandemic conditions, your EX’s provision of childcare creates a hostage situation. You will eventually saw through the bars and escape, but right now, it might be best to keep those plans secret until you have access to regular schools and daycare options.

  • Home for the holidays,

    Congratulations on getting a separation agreement. Now push to get that decree signed and entered.

    I’d stay the course until that is done. Then, consider moving a sitter in to exchange help for rent) kids can bunk together or you can sleep on a blow up in your living room, alcove, etc. can you meet your mortgage and expenses by renting your home? If so, move into a cheap 2-bedroom apt or a 1 bedroom with a pull out couch and rent your home, use money saved for daycare. Or find a mom who needs extra money to care for your kids— I did a lot of sitting like this while I was a SAHM … and I have a law degree. Faith communities where women traditionally stay home when kids are young are a great resource. Call your local high school’s or community college’s counseling office and get connected with early childhood education department— let them know about the job. Re-fi your home (terrific rates now) and take some of that equity out to pay for child care. Ask your employer to pay for costs of childcare— a lot of companies are doing this now. Start a go fund me…. a lot of people will give you a dollar or two to fund removing this asshole from your home. Start selling your stuff and use money for childcare. Increase your income with a weekend job for extra $ to pay for childcare….. it’s all temporary. You are MIGHTY you CAN do this!

  • Home for the Holidays, I left Cheater#1 in October when Jr. was 6 months old. I had to scramble to find childcare too. Bonus: I traveled four days a week for work. I talked to the managers and wangled a local project, at least for a little while.

    I also found an organization here in the SF Bay Area called Bananas that did childcare referrals. Based on the dollar amount you estimate for child care, I’m guessing you are in a similar area that is expensive. Through them, I was referred to an in-home day care run by a nice lady that was much cheaper than “corporate” day care. You should look at parent blogs or message boards in your area to find the same sort of referrals. Or ask your terrific lawyer.

  • I’ll tell the Olive Man story again. It’s just a good reminder for me too of how f’d up Wackjob truly is. And how chumpy I was. He announced that he would be spending the first Christmas at “home” after moving in with his sl#t as “thats what the kids want” ( grown up kids). He lavished expensive gifts on my son( the one he usually ignored or verbally abused), because he had not “won over” son to his new sparkling life. Daughter( usually daddy’s girl) was treated with distain( the gift? A jar of olives-she hates olives, and a small Starbucks gift card). She had called him out on his evil behavior so she was in his shit book at the time. He was totally smarmy, trying to put his arm around me and trying to kiss me and trying to butt in to cooking. I ended up on the sofa in tears. After a miserable dinner he just walked out sending me a text saying “ I know when I’m not wanted” no shit Sherlock! I apologized to my kids and told them it would not be happening again.

    • One year my father gave me a Stretch Monster, you know the toy for young boys ? I was a young teenage girl. He thought it was funny.
      After his gift drop off, my mother had to clean up emotionally, wipe away my tears and hug me.

  • Since the divorce is not yet a done deal, I would consider placating him for the upcoming holidays this year and after the divorce is final tell him to take a hike. You are lucky that he quit claimed the house and did not pursue spousal support. Your retirement is not being divided, thank goodness. This is a lesson for all chumps…make the deal while the affair is still new and exciting. Cheaters don’t want to deal with reality and boring stuff such as home equity, retirement, etc. Another lesson is that men and women that opt to be a stay at home parent and don’t keep up with stay at home responsibilities such as proper child care, housework, paying bills, errands, etc. should lose stay at home status and get their lazy asses to work. Better to hire child care and pay for a weekly housekeeper.

  • Thanksgiving 2017. I was 7 weeks past blindsided DDay, 3 weeks past finding his secret email and discovering his Craiglist lunchtime hookup habit, 2 weeks past filing for divorce from the 20 year marriage, and 2 weeks since he moved out (because, in his words, I wasn’t making it easy for him to stay. Umm…no kidding!). He wanted to have Thanksgiving at the house with the kids. I hadn’t found CL yet and gave in. Don’t be me!

    Yep, I cooked the entire meal. I later heard from the kids that he was texting Craiglist schmoopie (now wife) openly in front of them. The meal was….awkward. As the house would be sold as part of the divorce settlement, I asked him to come by the next day and fix a few things. He said he was too busy. I pressed him a little more and he admitted he was leaving the next day to go get Craiglist schmoopie from her parent’s house and move her into his new apartment.

    You are not required to host his Thanksgiving. He is only interested in image management and a free ride. He won’t remember your kindness and sacrifice. Your kids only need one sane, supportive parent and that includes on holidays too.

  • HFTH, its all heartbreaking for sure but remember “what you start follows you around for a long time”. I have adult kids, spouses and grandkids and for the last 5 years post divorce, I DO NOT ever want to share a meal or Holiday with the X. The first 2 years my kids rallied around me but now he has managed to Wiesel his way into their homes. I have had Thanksgiving and Christmas’s alone and the day just goes by like other days. Last year I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with one of my married kids and grands, but the disclaimer came the XFW was going to be there and his mom. I did NOT accept the invite. I refuse to make anything “Normal” for him or anyone else. People will have a tendency to expect YOU to move on and keep the traditions for the greater good NO NO NO!! My vote is take him off your plate and do NOT cook, and I like CL advice to renegotiate the arrangements for the holidays. He has already showed he isn’t trustworthy or deserving of your family anymore. Its complicated now for sure, but it sounds like you are intelligent and can be one step ahead of him.
    “People in hell want a cold drink”. love it! Karma is bitch…

  • Also keep in mind that there’s a decent chance he’ll try to get you to take him back at some point. Once things don’t work out with his whore and he realizes he has to get a job the nice lifestyle you provided is going to start to look really good.

    I know someone who went through this….non working hb moved out to mooch off of what he thought would be a nice meal ticket. When that blew up he went nuts trying to get back in, even going so far as threatening her bf. Eventually she moved out of the area and and he found someone else to support him, but 2 years later he’s still hoping she takes him back…he still doesn’t work.

    Fortunately she realized how much better off she is without him and the kids are grown.

  • No no no no no.

    Holidays aren’t about the date, they are about the spirit. Don’t make your children spend a holiday feeling toxic vibes. Kids have intuition, and they will know something is wrong in their gut. (my 3 year old is scary perceptive) Don’t gaslight them.

    Last year, I had Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Sounds like the better schedule, right? Wrong! It felt like a ticking time bomb was over my head all Christmas morning. We had to open most presents the night before so we wouldn’t be rushed in the morning.

    So this year I gave him that schedule, and I get them mid day Christmas. I get to sleep in! And build Santa gifts not at midnight! And my kids get to walk into an amazing happy home with loads of gifts under the tree!

    He might expect you to buy all the gifts. Then you get to seethe in fury watching the kids open them while he takes credit for your work. Let him deal with his own gift buying and stay out if it. Do your gifts when you have the kids. Your kids have separated parents. Their new normal is 2 sets of holidays in 2 separate houses. Embrace it.

    And for you? Spend the holiday with friends or family (seriously, good friends will be honored to be asked). Relax, don’t cook or clean. You deserve holidays away from the cheater. Time for self care. Are they just gone for the specific holiday day, or are they gone for a period of time? If they will be gone for awhile, look into a trip or vacation or staycation for yourself.

    For childcare, that is so hard. I will never let stbx step foot in my house again, so I don’t know how you can stand him being there. I use FT daycare. My company has a backup care program, and I have family that can come help. Could you pay a stay at home mom to watch them? Do you know someone who lost their job that wants to make some extra money? Any cousins or nieces/ nephews needing a place to stay that you could pay with room & board? Any friends with a nanny that would consider a nanny share? Childcare is expensive, but your current situation is incredibly mentally damaging and not sustainable.

    It sounds like your ex just doesn’t want to adult, and you are helping enable it (with good intentions). Stop. He fired you as his wife. Let him fail. Let him suffer the consequences of his choices. And if it hurts the kids? His actions are not your responsibility. Be the loving rock, and let this make your children stronger. If he wants the kids, he needs to make his own arrangements. Your house should not be his resource. You are giving him incentive to not get a job. He needs to get a job, get a safe place to live, and then he needs to pay child support. That won’t happen if you keep using him for childcare.

    This is hard, but you aren’t alone and you can get through it! *hugs*

  • Do not have him in your house for holidays.

    Make your holiday plans to be a diff day with your kids. If he cannot provide a special meal somehow? So effing what!

    You cannot stage manage your kids disappointment in their father.

    BTW, just how is he supporting himself?

    • Jimthzz thanks for this comment! His OW and other roommates seem to be fine with supporting him while he “gets back on his feet”. He is picking up a few dollars here and there through gig-economy based work (e.g. uber eats, door dash, etc.).

      • Good-the parasite has found other hosts to latch onto ! Not your problem anymore. We all know working gig jobs part-time doesn’t even begin to cover adult expenses. Rent/mortgage, insurances (health/car/residence/life), food, clothing, etc. Never mind child support.

      • You’re welcome.

        I just wanted to add, that a holiday is just one day out of a year of opportunities to disappoint his kids — every year.

        It’s too draining on you and the kids to play-at one day a year (or whatever holidays you count) so a faux nuclear family moment can happen.

        BTW, gig-based money is still money that he has to justify as far as supporting his kids is concerned. How much of that is spent on drug use compared to being spent on his kids?

  • Here’s my free advice.

    Cut all communication with him. Find a child provider you can afford. He is not your babysitter and the kids must be confused by his coming to the house.

    He comes and gets the kids according to the custody agreement. If he cannot provide an acceptable place for this, he doesn’t get them. Sounds like this is unlikely, so you probably now have the kids full time.

    File for child support. He OWES this to the children, not to you. It is vital that you put in the claim. Maybe some day he will get his shit together and will it.

    I hope your divorce is filed and final. If he gets a lawyer he may have claims to many of your assets.

    As an aside, if he marries the ow the kids will be legally able to meet her, and perhaps to stay with them. Document any and all non payment of child support, lack of visitation, etc.

    This is all hard and scary and traumatic. Dragging out the home visits isn’t helping anyone. Holidays are an absolute no. I tried this once, and I regretted every single moment of it, and my kids are old and knew all about the affair. Put yourself first here. Your kids need only you, the same, moral and stable parent.

  • Dear HFTH,
    Congratulations on accomplishing so much in 7 months, and building a better life for yourself and your kids!
    I’ve been divorced for 4 years, my kids are in grade school and my separation agreement states that my ex and I alternate getting the kids for Thanksgiving each year, luckily this year I have them, but for Xmas Eve and Xmas morning I always have the kids, and he gets them beginning at 12noon on xmas day through noon the next day. After we divorced, my kids asked if their Dad could come over on xmas morning so we could open presents together, they were 6 and 8 that first year, I have no family hear and I wanted to make it more “normal” for my young kids, so I agreed to let him come over to see the kids unwrap gifts under the tree, then we have breakfast and then he leaves at noon with the kids and takes them to his house. On xmas eve he leaves his gifts at my front door and I put them under the tree after the kids go to sleep.
    This arrangement works pretty well and I only have to deal with him for about 4 hours on xmas morning, don’t get me wrong, he is a total fuckwit and I can’t stand him, but with the excitement of gifts being unwrapped, the kids playing with new toys, and the dog running around trying to rip the wrapping paper to shreds, an xmas movie on tv and general mayhem, the morning goes by very quickly. And I keep my attention focussed squarely on my kids happiness for 4 straight hours. For breakfast, I buy a quiche and some other already made items from the store, cut up some fruit and done. This is your first xmas being divorced, and you’re dealing with a total fuckwit who clearly isn’t going to do jack shit to help out. You are definitely in the driver’s seat regarding the holidays, even though he is supposed to have your kids this year, so why not lay out the ground rules, tell him that he may not spend all day at your house on either holiday, that he gets 4 hours max, 3-7 on Thanksgiving and 8 to noon on xmas day, buy premade food that just needs heating up and make it easy on yourself and your kids. 4 hours goes by very quickly.
    I bet your ex will be fine with this scenario, and you have the peace of mind knowing your kids are in a Safe environment. And I know everyone has an opinion on how to navigate the holidays with an ex who is a total fuckwit, my way of doing things may sound crazy, but seeing my kids happy for 4 hours once a year with both parents in the same house, where we celebrate our favorite holiday (me and the kids, he doesn’t give a shit about any holidays, traditions or anything that revolves around family), is something I’m willing to do, it will stop at some point because they are getting older, but for now and because I have no family close to me, this is how I approach the holidays.
    Regarding your ex watching your kids 4 days a week because you cannot afford the childcare costs, we are in the middle of a pandemic, and we are all trying to do what works best. I would reach out to local moms groups in your area, check out local colleges for students who may be interested in trading being a nanny for free room and board, see if there are any grandparents in your neighborhood who can help out, but definitely work on getting your ex out of your house.
    You mentioned he has roommates and there is the OW, are any of those people practicing social distancing, wearing masks, getting tested regularly, including your Ex? If not, get your lawyer on that. I wouldn’t let my Ex watch my kids or anywhere near the inside of my house if I didn’t have proof he was protecting himself. He needs to start adulting, get a job and a safe place to live.
    You are doing a great job under very trying circumstances, keep being Mighty!

    • This is where my head went too. What makes you think the drug-using pornographer housemates or FW have the boundaries to take sufficient covid precautions or would tell the truth about it when asked? Having him in your home and/or close to your kids unmasked seems super unsafe to me.

      For that matter, he’s not allowed to have the kids around the OW and housemates, but how can you trust he’s abiding by that agreement?

      • MovingForward: thank you for sharing how you handle holidays. It helps to hear lots of perspectives. It seems there is really no “normal” in divorce land. Also, thanks for pointing out the COVID exposure risk. I agree that he and his roommates are likely not social distancing. That said, no one in my neighborhood is taking COVID seriously either. The local daycares do not have their kids wear masks or social distance. I think it’s a wash when it comes to exposure from him and exposure from other kids if the kids were in daycare here. The total number of people he contacts is far less than classrooms of kids and their teachers that my kids would encounter. Its certainly not an ideal scenario, but it is what it is. I do like some of the suggestions I’ve seen regarding nanny-sharing or childcare co-ops. I have some homework to do there.
        Also, thanks for thinking of me as Mighty! 😀

      • MR: You are right. I cannot trust FW regarding anything, not the least of which includes social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing and other general COVID risk-reduction behaviors. The separation agreement gives him access to the kids in my home “or another agreed upon location” so without renegotiating the terms I don’t have any ground to stand on in terms of the current pandemic, unfortunately.

        Also, I do not have to trust that he is abiding by the separation agreement. I have security cameras that record every movement into and out of my home. He and OW live close to an hour away so he would have to have take the kids out of my home for a long while and thus far the longest trip away has had them on has been to McDonald’s. I also have tracking set up on my son’s tablet (which he takes everywhere when he’s with his dad), so I can track movement that way as well. I can also track FW’s map timeline. I don’t ever actually use that, but could if I needed to verify where he’s taken the kids. I have zero trust or faith in him at this point.

        My six year old is big enough to tell me all about his day and I don’t think he could keep meeting “daddy’s friend” a secret from me for long. The kid is a total chatterbox. The three year old is articulate enough to tell me all about everything she does… but not big enough to differentiate a secret from reality. I think the kids would spill the beans if they knew daddy had a “special friend”.

  • Gosh, I was such a chump. When my 3 were little, I would let the fuckwit come over and watch the kids open presents and spend the day with us. Only later did I realize that he just didn’t want to buy them Xmas gifts. He actually had the nerve to expect the kids to tell him thank you after opening gifts that I bought for them. When I put a stop to that, he would make up excuses why he couldn’t keep them on his holiday.

    As far as childcare goes, stop depending on him. He will use that as leverage and you will end up regretting it in the long run. I left my ex when mine were 5, 3, and 1. Find someone who will come into your home. I paid $125/ day.

  • Regarding the holidays, NO is a complete sentence.

    If he can’t meet the requirements of the agreement, then he forfeits seeing the kids over the holidays. Do talk to your attorney about this to be sure and let her inform him properly. You have to start treating this situation as doing business with a proven backstabber. In short, always cover your rear.

    Regarding the child care situation, that’s more complicated. Personally, I think having a live in nanny would lower your fees significantly as free room would be considered compensation in addition to some pay. It would be a heck of a lot better for you and the children than a drug addict, cheating ex. You’ve already described rather well how much he sucks as a “parent”. I put that in quotes because if you are honest, he really isn’t one, just a sperm donor. He has been neglecting the children while…whoring and doing who knows what else. So yes, a nanny is a better option. There are women out there who love children and are very very good at this kind of work.

    On that note, join parent boards and groups and ask around. The best people are usually found by word of mouth rather than any formal advertising. At least that’s been my personal life mileage.

  • So sorry and Hell to the No. First thing: You owe him nothing. This is your new mantra… say it cross legged with an UMMMM after. Repeat it. YOU OWE HIM NOTHING. Second: Thanksgiving and Christmas are dates on a calendar. It’s the meaning of the holiday, not the day itself. Choose a different day. It’s time to create new traditions. If you are alone on Christmas morning, relish it. Sleep in. Enjoy the hush and peace as the world does it’s thing. While you are doing that, he’s already been up for 3 hours. Drink some spiked coffee, zoom some friends, take a long, hot bath, watch your fav movie or not. Run a Turkey Trot or not. Make it yours. Yes, this all sucks but it is already better and will continue to be. Your thoughts = your mood. I wish you well. Hugs.

  • I have so many questions about his childcare:

    Is he making all the meals for the kids?
    Is he cleaning up after those meals and doing dishes?
    Does he do any grocery shopping / planning for meals?
    Is he communicating with the 6yo’s teacher?
    Does he help with homework?
    Is he planning activities for the 3yo?
    Does he take them outside or to the park?
    Does he do any laundry or chores?
    Does he stay for dinner?
    Does he cook dinner?

    If he doesn’t do these things, I would guess he doesn’t, then he is just freeloading at your house four days a week, getting free food. He knows this, and is banking on you letting him continue to leech off you.

    Go on facebook and find your local moms group. I’m sure you can find a mother’s helper 2 days a week and a nanny share or pod for the other two.

    • NotAnymore: Great questions and point! The answer to most of those is no.

      He does help with the remote learning, will make food for the kids and do dishes (but no other chores/clean-up).

      He was helping himself to food freely until I told him he could bring his own and to stay out of my pantry/fridge. Then he switched to eating the kid’s “leftovers” (he’d make way too much for the kids to eat so he’d still get a meal in).

      I’ll start looking into mother’s groups and will ask around with my neighbors. If I can figure out the childcare situation I’d be a lot more content. I am also constantly worried that OW is going to get jealous that he spends so much time at my house and put a stop to daddy daycare anyways. It would be nice not to have that as a concern.

      • I’m sure if you could hear a few words of when he says about you when he gets home to her after lounging at your house all day you wouldn’t worry about her, or him, ever again.

        In her eyes he’s probably some hero, not working just so he can spend time with his kids.

        Once he doesn’t have the kids as an excuse not to work, shit will get real for him. If I were you I would be changing the locks and putting the pedal to the metal on that karma bus.

  • If COVID wasn’t an issue I’d tell him to take the kids to Denny’s or Sizzler. Crap food but kid friendly. But if he is going to do it at your house he can shop and cook or order a premade dinner from the grocery store. Then you go to a friend’s for 3 hours.

  • Home, being it’s the first year I would agree that he can come for Christmas dinner. He can bring his gifts for them to open then. I would give him a time frame say 4 to 9 and that would be it.

    As far as Thanksgiving I would not invite him for that. It’s his choice not to take the kids to his families house for that event.

    This is more than he deserves. But it is a comprimise for the first year. You don’t want to be playing happy families next year. He has a year before next Thanks’ging/Christmas to get a damn job, and get decent housing with no scum bags living there.

    just my 2 cents

  • Facebook moms groups are pretty amazing, my local one would band together to help you find some affordable care in a heartbeat.

    No mother wants to see another stuck with their unemployed, drug using, cheating soon-to-be-ex in the house 4 days a week.

  • This was my situation, this was my ex. Almost to the letter. It’s really hard to enforce consequences with these ones. They don’t listen. They just keep pushing and pushing…. using charm, rage, pity to get what they want. It’s a huge effort to keep them at bay. But one thing I’ve learned is… the kids get it. Even at a young age. They pick up on a vibe. They’ve seen shit that you haven’t. So. They won’t care if he’s not there for every moment of Christmas, because they are probably tired of his shit too. So don’t let anyone guilt you into doing this “for the kids”.

  • The more the merrier, I say! Find people who don’t have commitments. Maybe an elderly neighbor, other single moms with kids…invite them over to dinner. Ask everyone to bring a dish and make your ex also bring dishes (plural). Explain to your other guests your situation, but insist you are doing this for your kids. Tell your ex you will have many other guests. Having other people there will give you and your kids someone else to interact and talk with. And he will hate it because he isn’t central.

  • My STBX is spending Thanksgiving with the OW. He told the kids and I, “If you don’t already have plans for Thanksgiving then it is time for you to reconnect with “our” family.” By “our” family, he means his flying monkeys. Nothing says “thankful” like sitting down to dinner across from the relatives that KNEW he was cheating and covered for him because they are cheaters as well. The thought makes me want to loose my lunch. Every year, I would spend days preparing food for that ungrateful crowd. Nope, looking forward to not having my feet ache or having to clean the kitchen multiple times over fall break.

    • Which is to say, “Home for the Holidays?”, I am saying no. No to their chaos. I would rather be home alone or even volunteering over the holidays than continuing in their crazy traditions. It is really hard after 23 years of doing what they wanted. This is my first holiday season after busting a cheater. You don’t have to get it right on the first try!!!

  • Everybody’s different. My fuckwit is pretty bad, but most of you all got me beat. She even took a voluntary cut in alimony(I refused to work so now I get more for not working money) and child support while I am out injured on workmens comp. I come for Christmas morning and we go eat Chineese Buffet with my Mom and Stepdad and my brother for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It wasn’t easy at first. The kids generally know the score. The original OM is long gone and she generally keeps her latest away from the kids. Find your own comfort zone.

  • Here’s my solution: DeadbeatMoocherCheater gets a job and pays for childcare.

    Some things are free but cost too much. Your X in your home is one of them.

    I get the urge to do Christmas for the kids, but if you give in to this nonsense, you will have this jackass on your back forever. It’s his own fault that he doesn’t have a safe home to take the kids. No Thanksgiving for him. You should not be cooking him a Thanksgiving dinner. The nerve of him. The NERVE.

    He doesn’t have a place to take the kids Christmas Eve, right? So you do your celebration dinner Christmas Eve. We did that growing up. That was a tradition in my Mom’s family and she just continued it. with us. For you, it will mean you can establish a tradition that doesn’t get interrupted. It’s really a good idea as the kids get older because it means that after gifts are opened Christmas day and you have a nice Christmas breakfast or brunch, the day is always free for kids to play with their stuff or visit grandparents, etc.

    I’m going to bet here and now that he never has a place to take the kids. So begin as you mean to go on. he “has” the kids on Thanksgiving and Christmas. So he picks them up and does what he does, so long as he stays within the agreement. He has the option of going to his parents, but it’s much easier to just let you continue to provide him with his daily (and holiday) bread. You need to put a stop to that. If you cave this year, you’ll have the same problem next year.

    One thing you might consider, long term, is seeing if it makes sense to move closer to your parents, even if you have to change jobs. Lots of jobs will be done remotely now, even after COVID. Just a thought.

    I’d invite your parents over for Christmas Eve dinner. Maybe they could stay over in a hotel or if you have a spare room and then watch the kids open presents Christmas morning. Tell DeadbeatMoocher he can pick them up at noon and take them to see his parents or wherever.

  • What CL said about getting your lawyer to enforce the separation agreement, per the NO ROOMMATES, non-blood, or non-spouse clause. If he’s not taking the kids to his family’s house for Thanksgiving AND Christmas, then how could he possibly have the kids, and why would you possibly think that he would and that you wouldn’t?!!

  • My two cents: Your new chapter has just begun. Continue to draw and model healthy boundaries. Your children have two families now. When dad has time with the children it is on him to be responsible. It is not your job to do his work for him. This includes holidays, days we should all be celebrating. Do not settle, every day forward you should be treating yourself well because life is too short to spend it on people who don’t value us. What we want for our children is to know that they are valued and loved. IMHO, feeding them lies (ie that they can only be happy inside a nuclear family) is not the way to do it. Happy families evolve. Wishing you and yours the best on your journey forward.

  • I would most definitely not have him stay for an entire day nor cook anything for him. Because he is currently the best option for childcare and I’m guessing the kids love him and want to see him, what I would do is a version of what Chump Lady advises.

    I’d tell him – not ask – that unless he can provide a court-approved place for the kids to be for the holidays, he doesn’t get them, but because you are a generous and magnanimous person, you will allow him to drop off gifts at a time convenient to YOU and YOU will put them under the tree and at a suitable TO YOU time in the morning (after breakfast), he may come and have a very quick cup of coffee / any cookies HE BRINGS and spend an hour or so watching them open gifts and seeing them on Christmas. You will be around and in and out, but not part of his time with them, nor will you be supplying him with anything else.

    Then he gets to leave, well before any lunch may or may not happen.

    I’m not American so I don’t really get how Thanksgiving usually works, but he can visit them / take them for lunch (?) and then return them to you.

    No food or sleepovers or pretending.

    • Caroline, this is great advice! He actually pulled some gaslighting craziness yesterday and claimed not to remember having any such conversation about Thanksgiving (yet everything he wanted to do for Christmas he had already discussed with me… during the same conversation…).

      Turns out he “doesn’t want to impose” on my Thanksgiving dinner and he’s fine with the kids staying with me that day. My guess is he was invited to Thanksgiving with his OW. That’s great! I don’t have to deal with him for that holiday now! Awesome!

      After the new round of gaslighting I told him I’d think about what I wanted to do about Christmas if he could not abide by our separation agreement and would get back to him. Your suggestion is exactly what I think I should do at this stage!

      At this stage you’d think he’d be done with the “I don’t remember that conversation. We never talked about that. I should record all our conversations. You’re crazy” BS. Unbelievable!

      • Gaslighting is a tool that works for him, so why should he stop using it?

        It’s all need-driven image management, really. He originally had no plans, so he wanted to mooch at your place for Thanksgiving, and made it seem like it was for the children’s sake. Then something better came along, so he backed out of Thanksgiving in a way that still made him seem generous and thoughtful.

        Everything my ex does and says, I now run through a filter of “why is he telling me this lie?” and I can usually figure out where the benefit to him is.

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