Parents will often spend more money on presents for a child during a divorce and/or separation. The natural instinct is to do whatever you can to make a child happy and if that means buying him or her a new bike or a new dress, that is what must be done. Parents are typically worried about the emotional state of their child during the divorce and/or separation, so when they see him or her happy, it makes them feel better inside. This being said, keep in mind that a temporary sense of happiness due to a present is not a cure for either you or your child.
The act of buying excessive presents for a child is more of a selfishness on the parent’s part. This is a way for a parent to get a sense of relief that a child is happy. You should continue to remind yourself that you can not buy happiness.
This does not mean you should eliminate all presents or surprises for your child, but instead keep them at the same level they were prior to the divorce and/or separation. As mentioned previously, it is very important to maintain a routine and relationship similar to what it was prior to the divorce and/or separation.
Instead of flourishing your child with presents, try substituting fun activities you can do with your child. Each time you have the urge to buy your child a gift, try replacing it with an activity. The special times that you spend with your child will give you and your child more personal satisfaction. The time together will put a smile on everyone’s face and will create a memory that can never be replaced. The more time you spend with your child the quicker your guilt will go away. The guilt will probably never completely disappear, but your efforts to be the best parent you can be will eventually let you be at peace with yourself and the divorce and/or separation.
Sometimes one parent is trying to keep up with the other parent’s giving of presents. If you have found yourself trapped in this game, you need to have a talk with the other parent as soon as possible. Hopefully you and the other parent can come to an agreement to stop or at least lessen the amount of presents given to your child. This is not a time to be competing for the love of your child, but instead a time to be working together to be good single parents. This sense of competition will be perceived by your child and he or she will feel as though it is pulling him or her in two different directions. The typical child experiencing his or her parent’s divorce and/or separation does not want to love one parent more than the other.
Strategies and Tactics When It Comes to Buying Presents:
- Try to have your child earn the present as a reward.
- Substitute the thought of getting your child a present with spending time with an activity.
- Before buying something for your child ask the following question: Does my child need this or want this?
- Keep the amount of presents the same as prior to the divorce and/or separation.
- Make sure there is a reason for any present or gift.