The holidays can be an extremely stressful time for divorced co-parents — particularly if this is their first holiday season apart. One issue that can become a minefield is gift giving for the kids. Too often, parents’ resentments towards each other manifest themselves in how they handle Christmas or Hanukkah presents. This only saps the joy out of the holidays for the kids who are caught in the middle.
Parents often compete for their kids’ affection by getting them more (or more expensive) gifts than they know their co-parent can’t afford. They may splurge and get them something their co-parent doesn’t think they need or are ready for yet.
Sometimes parents are so resentful of their co-parent’s gifts that they won’t allow kids to play with them or use them at their house. Whether they think they’re punishing their ex or they’re trying to save themselves the hurt of seeing their child with something they can’t afford, they’re really only penalizing their children.
The holiday season can be a lot more peaceful when parents work together to coordinate their gifts. This can let you avoid giving duplicate presents. It can also help ensure that kids get the things they most want (within reason) and that they’re of relatively equivalent value. That means not competing to give the “best” gifts.
Parents also shouldn’t place restrictions on where their kids can have their gifts. If your ex went overboard and got your child something out of your price range, let your child have it at your house. If a child is only allowed to play with a cool new toy or game at one parent’s home, that’s where they’ll want to be — at least until the newness of it wears off.
That’s the final thing to remember. Years from now, your child likely won’t remember who gave them what gift in any particular year. They’ll remember special holiday activities that may cost little or nothing.
If you have tried to work with your co-parent to place limits on extravagant gifts, but to no avail, you may want to consider seeking to add some language in your parenting plan to address it. Your Florida divorce attorney can advise you on the best way to go about that.