By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
As a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach I often are sent questions from concerned parents. One recent question focused on an issue that many divorced parents face with mounting frustration.
It had to do with one parent treating the children to lavish gifts and trips while the other parent is struggling financially. Mom was aware that she shouldn’t say anything negative to her children about their Dad. But she was finding it difficult in the face of her circumstances. The question, of course, was what can she do about this?
Consider all the possibilities!
It’s impossible to provide a specific answer when the so many of the circumstances are unknown to me. How often is Dad seeing the children? What kind of relationship does he have with them when he is not there? Is he angry about not sharing equal time with the children? Is he resentful towards Mom regarding other issues? Is he aware that she is struggling financially? Does he care? Is he trying to show her up and influence the children away from her? Or is he oblivious that his behavior is creating an issue for her? Does he know he may be spoiling the children? Or care? Does he believe he’s being a wonderful Dad?
I’m sure you’ve thought of several other questions that are relevant to this situation. In so many cases there are no simple answers or solutions for these challenges. It’s all about shades of grey, trying to find a common ground, Can one parent communicate their concerns in a way that doesn’t put the other parent on the defensive? Can you discuss issues without making your former spouse wrong, which choses the door to effective dialogue?
I began my answer by acknowledging Mom for understanding and respecting the importance of not bad-mouthing Dad to their children. I also agreed that it was indeed difficult when Dad spoils the kids with material attention while Mom is struggling to make ends meet.
Have a meaningful conversation together!
I offered some suggestions that she might want to consider. Depending on the age of the kids, she could explain to them that Dad doesn’t see them on a daily basis. So he wants to make his time with them very special. Consequently, like many grandparents, he treats them to things that are not part of their everyday life.
If he were at home with them, that wouldn’t be the case. Mom can’t do that because there are too many daily routines, chores, expenses, etc. that she has to tend to. Happily for the kids, they get the best of both worlds.
She could also talk to Dad, if he’s open to that. She may want to let him know how his behavior appears from the children’s perspective. Perhaps he’ll want to consider their confusion between the two parental lifestyles. What values and lessons are they learning about fiscal responsibility and other consequences of being spoiled children?
Get answers before making decisions!
I also brought up several questions Mom needs to consider:
- Is Dad intentionally doing this to anger her?
- Or is it unconscious irresponsible behavior?
- Is he resentful about not seeing more of his children?
- Is he trying to hurt Mom financially?
Each of these factors plays a part in how Mom can best communicate the consequences of conflicting lifestyles for the children. How are they being affected when Dad provides different values and a different lifestyle than the one they are living with Mom? What will be the outcome if he continues?
Do you have some other suggestions on this topic? I encourage you to visit my blog and enter your perspective. Let’s get a dialogue going on this tough topic. Just keep in mind it’s hard to judge right and wrong since we don’t know all the circumstances. However, we can all learn from each other’s experiences and, hopefully, grow in more positive ways ourselves – for the betterment of our children.
Visit http://www.childcentereddivorce.com and click on the Blog button on top. Then visit the blog page and post your comment.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is the founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and author of numerous books, e-courses and programs on divorcing with children and co-parenting successfully. For instant download of her FREE EBOOK on Doing Co-Parenting Right: Success Strategies For Avoiding Painful Mistakes! go to: childcentereddivorce.com/book
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