This time of year can be the most challenging for divorced parents. You want your children to enjoy the holidays with all of their family members on both sides. However, it’s easy to feel a bit of resentment when you hear them talking about how much they’re looking forward to seeing their grandparents and other former in-laws of yours on Thanksgiving. It’s only natural to feel competitive when you find out your co-parent wants to give each of the kids the latest iPhone for Christmas or Hanukkah.
Why it’s okay to compromise
One of the best gifts you can give your kids this season is compromise with your co-parent. That doesn’t mean throwing away the custody agreement and parenting plan. It just means giving a little on things that mean a lot to your children. If the custody agreement says you get the kids on New Year’s Eve and your ex gets them on New Year’s Day but their other parent would like to take them for a visit with their cousins over the long weekend, why not let them if you have no special plans?
Another gift you can give your children when you make these compromises is not making a big deal out of them. You don’t really want to make your kids feel like they’re “choosing” their other parent over you. Don’t make them feel like they’re abandoning you or being disloyal to you.
Don’t let gift-giving become a battleground
Gift-giving can be another source of tension between co-parents. If you and your ex can agree to go in on the larger gifts together and set a spending limit on the smaller gifts, that’s great. However, if your co-parent is one of those people who always has to give the bigger, better, pricier gifts, let your children enjoy them. In ten years, they’re more likely to remember all of the classic Christmas movies you watched together than the $200 pair of Nikes your ex bought them.
If you find that there are holes in your custody agreement or parenting plan that your ex found it too easy to take advantage of, talk with your attorney after the holidays. They can help you seek changes that are in the children’s best interests.