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Don’t let your co-parent turn Christmas gifts into a competition

On Behalf of | Nov 28, 2021 | divorce |

Whether this is your first Christmas since your divorce or it’s been a few years, this time of year can be especially challenging for parents. One common problem is when a parent sees Christmas as a chance to outdo their ex with extravagant gifts for the kids.

Parents may do this to be the favorite parent or because they still feel guilty about disrupting their kids’ lives with the divorce. Others do it because they’re financially better off than their ex, and they want to remind them of that. Often, it’s a combination of these things.

What can – and can’t – you do about it?

If you can, try to persuade your ex to agree to a spending limit on the kids’ presents that come from each of you individually (or from Santa). Maybe you can agree to split the cost of more expensive items like a laptop or phone. It doesn’t have to be a 50-50 split, but one that reflects each of your financial circumstances.

If your ex insists on spending more on presents than you can afford, resolve to let your children enjoy them (as long as they’re within reason for your child’s age and maturity) at whichever house they choose. There are plenty of things you can do for your children around the holidays (and all year long) that don’t cost much – or anything.

By next year, the presents they are gushing over will probably be lost or forgotten. Your kids are more likely to remember the things you did to make the holidays special – even if it doesn’t seem like it now.

If your ex continues the outrageously expensive gift-giving, you may want to consider seeking a modification to your child support order if that money is needed to cover more basic costs for your child.