Holiday Gifting: A Major Child-Rearing Issue in Divorced Families

With the holiday season wrapping up, divorced parents have likely been thinking about gift giving during the past several weeks. No matter the ages of your children, holiday gifts can be a particularly difficult child-rearing issue, especially if you do not communicate well with your ex-spouse. Challenges experienced during the holiday season can be applied throughout the entire year, however, according to child custody experts who urge caution and respect when buying presents for your young ones.

Scores of Maryland parents know the feeling. Their kids’ other parent purchases an inappropriate or inconvenient gift. Take, for example, the woman who struggled to set up the Xbox gaming system that her children’s dad bought them for Christmas. Not only did parts go missing as they were hauled back and forth between the two houses, but the gift quickly became a bone of contention. In the end, the teens ended up saving money to purchase a second gaming system, but not before a serious amount of frustration.

Custodial parents may suffer from overcrowding in their home – but not from people. Gifts can quickly accumulate in smaller residences. With this in mind, non-custodial parents are encouraged to coordinate their gift-giving with the parent who has primary custody. Not only does this prevent “outgifting” competitions – competing for your child’s affections through big purchases – but it also keeps clutter at bay.

Further, parents should take care to refrain from putting limits on toys or other gifts. Children should be able to take the item between their two homes. In most cases, kids value family peace over the nature of the presents, so give them the opportunity to enjoy their items without hassle. It should go without saying, however, that parents should not purchase animals or other significant presents that are expected to stay at the other parent’s home. Buying a puppy and then dumping it with your child at your ex’s home is extraordinarily inappropriate.

The key to positive gift-giving is to keep in mind the best interests of the child. Your child custody practices should be designed to allow both parents equal opportunity to provide gifts. Make birthdays and holidays happy times instead of contentious events by following these simple tips.

Source: Huffington Post, “Where do gifts live? Does your ex want a puppy? Gifting can be vexing for kids of divorce” Leanne Italie, Dec. 23, 2013