It’s the holiday season! Whooooppeeeeee! Time to do fun holiday activities with your kids, buy them gifts, and let them eat all forms of seasonal deliciousness! But, BAH HUMBUG, what if you and your ex-spouse have differing ideas about what is appropriate holiday fun?
Every parent wants to be the fun parent. No one likes to be the Grinch, but what do you do if your ex-spouse’s overindulgence of the kids leaves you feeling like Scrooge? Or, what if the guilt of getting a divorce is turning into trying to make up for it by buying your child lots of presents. This is tempting, especially during the first year after your divorce. But remember, it hurts the pocketbook and raises the bar even higher for the next occasion. You also may find yourself in competition with your ex-spouse–who buys the better gifts? You can’t win this one. If you feel the uncontrollable urge to buy expensive gifts, please forward same to me at 9 Summer Street in Franklin.
During the holidays we all want to make our children happy and have fun, but are you in danger of becoming a Disney Mom or Dad? The “Disney” parent is one who indulges his or her child with gifts and good times and leaves most or all disciplinary responsibilities to the other parent.
Don’t let the age-old holiday tradition of parental guilt get you! Giving in to your children’s every whim sets a pattern of overindulgence that will come back to bite you. Your kids need you to set limits. If you don’t, the world can become a frightening place for kids where there is no structure and nothing to rely on. Our children look to us to keep them safe and nurture them.
Instead of buying crazily expensive, numerous gifts, think about what holiday traditions you can enjoy with your kids this year that don’t make a dent in the pocketbook. If you don’t like to bake and always did in prior years (because you thought you had to), don’t do it! Buy pre-made cookies, candy and frosting so you and the kids can decorate. Watch a Christmas special that you enjoyed as a kid with your own children. Add in hot chocolate with whipped cream and some popcorn (Sorry, I’m hungry!). If your kids are older, think about volunteering together. It doesn’t cost anything and pays great dividends in plain old feeling good about yourself.
If your spouse or ex-spouse tends to be the Disney parent and you find yourself in the disciplinarian role, you might want to try on being the fun parent just for one afternoon or evening. Sometimes having a little leisure time with your kids takes the bite out of having to be the bad guy the rest of the time. It can alleviate, at least a bit, some of the resentment you are harboring toward the “fun parent”. Also, try talking to your kids about why you set limits. You may be pleasantly surprised at what comes up in that conversation. Sometimes kids have a good idea of when a parent is trying to buy away guilt.
If you and your ex are not able to get on the same page, you might benefit from the services of a Parenting Coordinator.
by The Divorce Collaborative LLC of Franklin, Bedford, and Shrewsbury, MA.
Please call (877) 842-1199 to schedule an appointment in either our Middlesex County, Norfolk County, or Worcester County office.
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