To Gift or Not Post-Divorce

Celebrating holidays while going through a divorce or separation heightens the stress of an already emotional situation. Participating in and attending seasonal events, such as holiday parties, gift exchanges, children’s school performances and other special celebrations put added pressure on co-parents to address the needs of their children. On top of that, as a parent, you may find that this time of year stirs up lots of different feelings for your children, as the loss of the family unit may hit them pretty hard.

The goal of all divorced parents is to help their children grow up feeling like a “normal” kid. Part of the normalcy during holidays is buying gifts for loved ones. Though you may not be in the holiday spirit to buy your ex-spouse a holiday gift, there are some unquestionably great reasons to put your feelings aside. In addition to modeling positive behavior for your children, there are a host of other reasons to buy gifts for your ex-spouse, on behalf of the children, that will go a long way:

  1. Encourages Kids to be Kids

As you did before your divorce, help your child organize gift-giving and celebrations. Get their input on what they would like to buy their other parent. Showing them support with these activities takes the pressure off of them so they can just be a kid and enjoy the time of year.

  1. Keeps Kids out of the Middle

One of the biggest fears that children have after a divorce is that enjoying the company of a parent hurts the other parent. By helping your child do something nice for your co-parent, you’re showing them that it’s ok to love and have fun with both parents individually.

  1. Demonstrates Post-Divorce Parenting can be Positive

When parents show their kids that they can have positive moments with each other, it makes their kids happy. Positive post-divorce co-parenting is not merely the absence of negative co-parenting; sharing and contributing to holidays and special days allows children to feel like there is still a place for mutual respect and affection.

  1. Models Kindness

The best parenting advice that exists is to be the person you want your children to be. They are always watching you and when you model kindness and cooperative behavior, they will notice. Helping your child celebrate your co-parent is a great way to model positive behavior.

  1. Influences How Kids Experience Divorce

Your divorce will be part of your children’s narrative for life. Holidays and special occasions are a wonderful opportunity to shape how they experience it now and remember it in the future. Gifting requires a small amount of time and money for a huge relationship payoff.

These motivations shouldn’t just apply to the joyous winter holidays ushered in by December.  These are all great reasons for any occasion such as birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. If you’re looking for more advice for surviving the holidays read these Tips to Co-Parenting Through the Holidays.

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