Avoiding “present traps” when co-parenting at Christmas

On Behalf of | Nov 9, 2023 | Divorce

If you’re recently separated or divorced parent, you may be secretly dreading the upcoming Christmas season for several reason – not the least of which is trying to make sure that you and your co-parent don’t end up in an all-out war over gifts for the kids.

This is a common issue post-divorce. Some parents go overboard and try to buy their children’s affection, while other parents assume that all the gifts will be bought out of the child support they pay and do nothing. Others simply fail to communicate and get angry when they realize they’ve duplicated gifts (or didn’t buy them) and disappointed their children.

How can you avoid getting stuck in a “present trap” with your co-parent this year?

Open an early line of communication with your co-parent and see if you can come to an agreement about things like:

  • Is Santa involved in the gift-giving? If so, will Santa leave a gift (or gifts) at each home or just one?
  • What sort of budget should be set? Should you agree to cover the costs equally, or is fairer to split things 60/40, 70/30 or some other way?
  • Can you agree to share your children’s wish lists with each other and schedule a phone call or a meeting to decide what will actually purchased?
  • Once you’ve finalized the shopping list, should you shop together or divide the list so that you can avoid forgotten gifts or duplicates?
  • Are there any gifts on the children’s wishlists that one or both of you absolutely don’t want them to have? Can you agree that either spouse has veto power on a gift?
  • Can you agree that the gifts belong to the kids, so the kids should be free to take them back and forth between houses at will?

Remind your co-parent that keeping your children’s best interests at heart is the most important gift you can give them this year – and that means working as a team to make sure their holiday is merry. If disagreements or tensions seem to be getting out of hand, it’s possible that you may need to revisit your parenting plan with an eye toward some changes. Seeking legal guidance can help you find solutions that work for everybody.