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Dad Needs Your Thanksgiving Advice

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A single dad recently contacted us about planning for Thanksgiving. Maybe you can help him out here -- with his, uh, challenge.

father looking frustrated mother with turkey

Single Mom Seeking: "My ex and I alternate holidays," he explains. "Our parenting time schedule for Thanksgiving begins on Thanksgiving Day at noon.

"Last year, I had a wonderful day planned with my brother's family. But when I picked up the boys -- who are six and seven -- at noon, I discovered that my ex and the rest of her crazy family had already celebrated Thanksgiving with a complete turkey dinner served at 10 AM.

"My ex looked smugly triumphant. And deservedly so. After all, it's an 'achievement' to begin to cook a turkey dinner at 3 AM -- and to strong-arm a bunch of adults to consume a million calories when normal people just want another cup of coffee."

This single dad went on to say that he pretended that everything was okay, and left with the boys, who were sleepy, cranky, and stuffed. And, just to make the situation worse, one of the boys got carsick.

All he kept thinking (but holding back from saying out loud!) was that his ex-wife and her entire family were far crazier than he ever realized.

This single dad is seriously second-guessing how he handled last year's "turkey drama."

So, he's asking you for your advice:

He's now worried that his silence might have set the stage for escalated holiday antics with his ex. Did he handle last year's "turkey drama" the right way?

Or, should he have confronted his ex and her family right then and there?

Oh, and this Thanksgiving? It's her turn to pick up the boys from his home at noon ...

next: Sunny Anderson's Top Three Thanksgiving Gadgets
13 comments so far | Post a comment now
Arlene November 25, 2009, 3:46 AM

Unless you want to serve Thanksgiving DINNER at 10AM, just let this one go. Its all about being together, anyway. Enjoy your morning with your boys. Have an enjoyable Thanksgiving BREAKFAST. But say something to your ex like:
I sure hope the boys don’t miss out on having turkey this year. Are you planning on dinner in the morning again? We don’t do dinner in the morning at my house, so when you come to get them, they won’t have had any turkey yet. Hope this doesn’t interfere with your day’s activities…but I sure hope you have a plan for making sure the boys get some turkey.

oohhh, here’s an idea: I assume you will have the boys the day/night prior to Thanksgiving? Have the turkey dinner the night before. That way you have a nice dinner with them, too. Send leftovers with them the next day. “Since I was afraid you might have already had your dinner this morning, I wanted to make sure they didn’t miss out on having some turkey today”

There are ways to get your digs in while making it sound like you are just concerned with the boys welfare :)

Kris November 25, 2009, 5:19 AM

As nicely and nonconfrontational as I possibly could be I would informed her that our son was car sick and that she should probably not let them eat such a big breakfast before I came to pick them up so we could avoid our son being miserable from being car sick(I would not even acknowledge the fact that she tried and succeeded in one upping me childish antics like that don’t need to be acknowledged). I think it’s childish to pull a stunt like that instead of talking to said ex spouse about the kids eating a lite meal at both homes so that the kids may enjoy the food at both parents home. I will never undrestand the pettiness that comes along with some divorces.

Angela November 25, 2009, 5:35 AM

First of all it was kind of underhanded that your ex didn’t inform you of her plans, but I can completely understand that she wanted to celebrate some of the holiday with her kids in the time that she had. My husband’s parents are divorced and he always had 2 Thanksgiving dinners. First they would do a brunch at his mom’s around 11 and then head to his dad’s and eat dinner around 6. In my mind everyone wins in that scenario.

If you are so inclined you could go ahead and plan a nice brunch with your boys although the decent thing to do would be to let your ex know of your plans so that she can plan their dinner later on and that way your boys don’t miss out with either parent. You could also offer to let her drop the kids off a little later next year to give them more time to celebrate and see if she reciprocates. Often event the most unreasonable exes will soften if you show some willingness to bend for them. Good luck and Happy Holidays.

MimiRuse November 25, 2009, 7:01 AM

This is a great chance to take the high road. So your ex is a nutbag. Don’t engage in her crazy. Engage in your relationship with your boys. Enjoy a special breakfast on Thanksgiving morning — man food, like pancakes and bacon — and watch the parade on TV. Weather permitting, get them outside and toss around a football. Play some video games with them. And tell them that you’re thankful for them. When their mom comes to pick them up, they may be tired and cranky, but it won’t be because you were using them as pawns in a wicked little game. It will be the result of the great time they had with you. Which they’ll remember for a long time.

Black Iris November 25, 2009, 9:54 AM

I think you did the absolutely right thing by not saying anything. This is about making sure your sons have a good time with you. Have a good morning with them on Thanksgiving and greet her in a polite, moderately friend way when she comes to get the boys.

Sometime before next year, suggest that you take the boys the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Tell her they got carsick last time and you think it would be better for them to just spend the holiday in one place. Make a bargain to do the same for her the year after and on Christmas Day, etc.

Shannon Smith November 25, 2009, 10:21 AM

You did the right thing. Take the high road. In the end, you’ll kids will notice and you’ll be the better for it. My sister’s ex and his family does stuff like that. My sister continues to bite her tongue and take the high road. Her daughter is now 10 and comments often on how they are always doing stuff like that and how it’s unfair. And comments on how my sister doesn’t do stuff like that.

It took ten years, but it happened. And now my sister is glad she handled it the way she did. Keep on taking the higher road. You’ll be glad you did one day. Your relationship with your children will be better for it.

tanyetta November 25, 2009, 4:54 PM

I LOVE how the ex’s are always the CRAZY ones.

Dear single dad, you knew she was crazy when you got with her and her crazy family.

Please, do everyone a favor and Check your EGO at the door and show your children that BOTH parents can get along even if they’re not married anymore.

Come on now, it’s the holidays. Stop Playing.

georg_gorchakov December 3, 2009, 8:02 PM

Dear Author !
I apologise, but it not absolutely approaches me. Perhaps there are still variants?

Logical December 11, 2009, 5:49 PM

Wow! Tanyetta…great show! You don’t know either of these people. One parent serves Thanksgiving dinner at 10am and you tell him to check his ego at the door. Ha! Check your gender at the door. If this were a mother who went to pick up her kids and the dad had cooked them a Thanksgiving dinner in the morning, I’m sure you’d have understood the issue. He’d just be another controlling egotist trying to keep the woman down.

I agree that there are times when ego (male AND female) plays a part, but it is not even close to playing a part in this scenario. The actual term “Male ego” was bastardized to the point where anytime you wanted to make a point, you’d throw it out there. Now it is thrown around so much by laypeople that have no understanding of it, that they will use the term completely out of context as an insult. That is what you have done here. He is looking for help, not insults.
Since this situation appears to be a bit confrontational, I would opt to switch holidays each year. When dealing with an intolerable, vindictive and/or spiteful spouse, you have to be the adult and think of the best interest of the children (and yourself for that matter), and remove that control from her by having the ENTIRE day with one or the other. You get the kids on Thanksgiving, she gets them Friday, you get them Christmas Eve, she gets them Christmas, and so on, alternating years. That way, on the holiday, there is no control or game-playing allowed. She wants to have Thanksgiving at 10AM when she has the kids all day, fine, you won’t even know about it. But if she usually has it at 3pm or whatever, then nobody’s day has to change.

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