This time of year can be particularly challenging for divorced parents. If you’ve got a co-parent who is determined to get your child expensive, lavish gifts that you can’t afford or simply don’t think they need, it can be particularly frustrating.
Divorced parents shower their children with gifts for any number of reasons. Some just want to be the “favorite.” Others are relentlessly competitive. Sometimes, parents who feel guilty about the divorce or not being able to spend as much time with their kids as they’d like try to make up for it by buying toys, games, sports equipment, clothes, vacations and more.
Try to reach an agreement
As with most co-parenting issues, the best strategy is to try to talk about it and come to an agreement. You can ask your co-parent to commit to a spending limit for individual gifts and share the cost (and credit) for larger gifts – unless they’re coming from Santa. See if they’ll agree to a provision in your parenting plan about gift-giving.
If your co-parent insists on spending a significant amount of money whenever the holidays (or birthdays and other occasions) roll around and you simply can’t afford to, you may want to consider working to modify your child support agreement (if they’re the one paying) so that you get some extra money for gifts.
There’s really nothing you can do to prevent your co-parent from splurging on gifts for your child – as long as they aren’t dangerous or inappropriate for their age. While it might make them the favorite parent for a few days or weeks, kids appreciate a parent who is consistently there for them and makes the holidays special in their own ways. Besides, that new iPhone will be obsolete by next Christmas.
Let your child enjoy their gifts
No matter how much you may resent your co-parent splurging on gifts for your child, it’s not your child’s fault. It’s important for kids to be able to use or play with their belongings in whichever home they’re in.
If you believe the situation has gotten out of hand and you need to seek a modification to any of the agreements you worked out during your divorce, find out how best to do that. Having sound legal guidance can help you do what’s best for your child.