Some parents who have divorced still take family vacations together for the sake of the kids
Actor Bruce Willis has done it. So has Britain’s Prince Andrew and media mogul Arianna Huffington.
They’ve all vacationed with their ex-spouses and kids.
While such post-marital closeness is inconceivable to some divorced couples, others say it’s a great way to save money and to foster good memories, for the children — and even the parents.
“If you get along with your ex it can be very easy to do,” said Mike Geoffrion, 39, who has vacationed with his ex-wife, Janna, and kids, including a trip to Disneyland.
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Geoffrion, who manages a bike store in Fort Collins, Colo., divorced in 2006 after six years of marriage but thinks the joint vacations have been nice for the kids as well as the adults. Supervising and entertaining children is less stressful with two parents, he said, and he enjoyed the adult interaction. “You get tired of talking to an 8-year-old over nice, expensive dinners,” he said.
Vacationing together has also worked well for Meredith Morton, 39, an actress in Los Angeles, and her ex-husband, Shane Edelman.
When they first divorced in 2004, they took vacations with their infant son, Ace, because they both wanted to enjoy his “firsts.” Since then they have each remarried, yet continue to vacation en masse with their new spouses, Ace, and his three half-siblings.
Most recently, they rented a large house in Palm Springs, Calif., and spent three days relaxing by the pool, playing with the children and making fun of golfers.
“It wasn’t just like we were just sharing rent. We went to be with them,” Morton explained.
It helps that her husband, Scott Cutler, a music producer, gets along with Edelman. For one thing, Cutler likes to eat, and Edelman likes to cook.
“Die Hard” actor Willis has vacationed with his former wife, Demi Moore, their three daughters, and her current husband, Ashton Kutcher. “It’s hard to understand, but we go on holidays together,” he told Vanity Fair in a 2007 interview. “We still raise our kids together — we still have that bond.”
Fran Walfish, a psychologist in Beverly Hills, Calif., and author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” said divorced couples vacationing amicably with their kids “gets my complete endorsement.”
But she cautioned, children of divorce often fantasize that their parents will reunite, and vacationing together might feed that. Parents need to be clear that the trip is a special event, like a Disney visit or a birthday trip, “and say, ‘We really just wanted to both be with you.’ “
Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, both 51, have made a ski trip with their two daughters a nearly annual event since their divorce in 1996.
Huffington, 60, waited 12 years after her divorce to vacation with her ex-husband, former Republican Congressman Michael Huffington, and their teen daughters.
But the 2009 trip to Greece was so successful that she blogged: “I only hope that, for the sake of the over one million children a year whose parents get divorced, it’s a journey more and more families take.”
Warren Gardner, 24, of Vancouver, B.C., offers the child’s perspective. He and his two younger sisters have vacationed with both their parents since their separation three years ago. They’ve taken several trips around British Columbia and Alberta, most recently to Calgary for Christmas and to mark his grandmother’s 90th birthday.
“To be honest, vacations all together since they split are less stressful than when they were together,” he said. “The mood is a lot lighter.”
Set the ground rules
What advice do divorced travel veterans have for those who might consider giving it a try?
Geoffrion said it has only worked for him when neither he nor his ex-wife were in a serious relationship. And, he said, although he paid for the previous trips, he’s at a point where he’d expect to split the expenses.
Karen Stewart, founder and chief executive of Fairway Divorce Solutions, a Calgary-based divorce mediation company with franchises throughout North America, recommends exes vacationing together negotiate the ground rules before the trip.
Differences in parenting style become even more apparent when couples live apart, says Stewart, author of the book, “How to Divorce with Dignity and Move on with Your Life.” Pre-trip agreement needs to be reached about finances, chores and sleeping arrangements.
She recommends parents consider planning some separate time during the trip, though Geoffrion said he and his ex-wife tried to behave like a family and did activities only as a group. They even stayed in the same hotel room, though different beds.