Consumers are being advised to do their online holiday shopping early and buy what they can find in the stores as supply chain issues around the world are creating shortages and delays of everything from toys to furniture. If you’re a newly separated or divorced parent, you may be dreading the thought of coordinating Christmas gifts with your ex. However, it’s best to start doing it sooner rather than later.
Gift-giving doesn’t have to be stressful for co-parents. It certainly shouldn’t cause stress or anxiety for your child. If you make – and stick to – a few simple rules, it won’t.
Coordinate your gift-giving
Work out how the two of you are going to divide your child’s wish list (and perhaps a few additional surprises and some practical items). If there’s a particularly expensive gift, work out how you’re going to divide the cost and have it be from both of you.
Don’t make it a competition
Don’t sneak in an extra gift just to one-up your co-parent or buy something that’s more expensive than you and your co-parent agree to. This might make you the “favorite” parent for a few days, but that will wear off fast. In the meantime, you may do some lasting damage to your co-parenting relationship.
Don’t buy something if your co-parent strongly disapproves
If your co-parent refuses to let your child play with toy guns or mature video games, it’s best to respect those wishes all year, but particularly when it comes to holiday or birthday gifts. Telling your child it will be a “secret” and they can only play with the forbidden gift at “your” house doesn’t help build a healthy relationship for any of you.
Don’t limit where the gifts can be used
That brings us to the last point. No parent should ever tell their child that they can only play with or use anything only at their home. Unless it’s something that requires extensive assembly or can’t be easily moved back and forth, children should be allowed to take or keep their belongings in whichever home they choose, as both homes are theirs.
Maybe you aren’t guilty of any of these things, but your co-parent is. If they simply refuse to cooperate despite your repeated requests, you may want to consider adding some provisions regarding gift-giving to your parenting plan.