Posted by familylaw on 10th November 2022
Don’t let your children’s festive gifts turn competitive

Sometimes when parents separate there is a temptation to become competitive when it comes to buying presents for your children.

When ex-spouses go down the road of trying to outdo each other with increasingly expensive gifts like Christmas and birthday presents it can do more harm than you might think explain family law solicitor Mary-Ann Wanjiku.

Think about why you are buying the gifts

We always promote putting your children first and focussing on you and your child’s happiness.  In the early days you will feel a range of emotions like sadness or perhaps guilt that you are missing important milestones or no long have Christmas together.  It can feel like you need to compensate but there are simpler ways than lavish gifts to build memories as you all adapt to the new family dynamic

Think Christmas movies, feeding the ducks, winter walks and sharing hot chocolate or a playing a game together.  All great ways to spend time with your children.  One household becoming two can mean that finances are tighter, taking this approach will mean that you can make memories without stretching yourself financially.

Remember to think about your child’s feelings

Communication is key for separated parents and this situation is no different.  It makes sense to talk with the other parent to make sure that they aren’t buying the same thing as you or agreeing a gift budget.

If you are contemplating buying something expensive, are you doing it for the right reasons?  The focus should be on giving a gift that makes your children happy and not focussing on getting back at your ex.

Sometimes it is about perception

Take time to think about how the gift might be perceived.

Whilst probably more about the other parents’ perception than your child, expensive gifts can be seen as a way to “buy” your child’s affection.  It can cause negative feelings about financial support, create tension between ex-spouses as they wonder how the other person is able to afford such presents and add tension to an already difficult time.

Also consider how the gift might appear to your child.  Some children are aware that an expensive present might upset or make the other parent cross.  You want the gift to make them happy not entangle them in causing upset to their other parent.

Help them buy their festive gifts

It’s important to separate your feelings from your children’s needs.   Perhaps rather than spending your budget on their gift you could support your children to pick gifts for their other parent and the wider family.  This support will mean a lot to them and is an experience you can share together.

However you approach your festive gifts this year, remember to keep your children at the heart.  Keep communication open and take time to enjoy those special moments.

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