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I know that I'm not supposed to say anything negative to my children about my ex-husband. But it is difficult as I struggle financially and he treats the children to lavish gifts and trips when he has them. What can I do about this?


Neale Godfrey Replied: Basically it comes down to, "My House . . . My Rules". Sit down with your children and discuss with them that their father may set different rules in his home than you do in your home. Throughout their lives, your children will experience many different homes and many different rules, but under your roof, your rules count. P.S. It may not be easy, but you can ask for his support with an allowance system to make sure you both raise financially responsible children. Unfortunately, you cannot mandate that your ex-husband follow this system, but hopefully he will realize the importance of instilling these essential values in your children.
Posted On 2009-09-01 16:59:50
Mike Mastracci Replied: Great question. I commend you for knowing what NOT to do. As to what you might want to do in the future, continue to spend TIME with them, love,live, laugh and have fun. Go places and do things. Make memories, they are free. It is okay to tell them that dad is financially better off, and that is a good thing,(dad is smart, he works hard etc.) but that has nothing to do with love.

When dad buys nice things don't yield to temptation to say negative things about the gift or dad's gift giving etc. Just acknowledge it for what it is. The bottom line is you want them to be happy and if dad bought an expensive
gift and you see your kids smile, then your ex actually gave you a gift too. It is all a matter of perception.

Best of luck.

Posted On 2009-02-16 11:07:15
Marsha Temlock Replied: Obviously there is a power play going on here between your husband and yourself, and as often happens, the kids are put in the middle. If your husband is nice to the children, treating them well and not saying negative things about you, respect the fact that he is trying to make up to them the fact that he is not around and is being overly generous, perhaps, to assuage his guilt for leaving the marriage. It is difficult to know from your question whether or not your ex is plying them with presents to get back at you, but I am going to make the assumption that he is doing out of conern and love for the children. While it is tough to have to reduce your standard of living, be glad that he is an involved dad and if it is possible to set some boundaries do so. You cannot buy love they say, but it is enticing to have someone indulge you. Try not to feel threatened by his extravagence. The kids will respect you more if you let them enjoy the gifts, etc. and not make them feel disloyal or guilty for being with dad. In my book "Your Child's Divorce: What to Expect ... What You Can Deal" (Impact Publishers, Inc.) I deal with these issues and offer suggestions to parents and grandparents on this very subject.
Posted On 2008-03-27 09:49:26
Sharon Buchalter Replied: First of all, you are on the right track recognizing that it serves no purpose to speak negatively about your ex-husband to your children. Children are not equipped to understand the complexities of divorce between adults. Complaining to your children about the way their father treats them to gifts or trips will only make them feel guilty for enjoying such things. They don't accept them as a play "against" you - they accept them from their Dad who they love. Now, as far as your ex-husband is concerned, it isn't fair to assume that he's treating the children this way as a means of hurting you, though I can understand your frustration. This is why it is important that you discuss your feelings with him; not the children. Sometimes we make the mistake of deciding why people do what they do, without any input from them. You may be convinced your ex-husband is trying to make a statement about your financial struggles through gifts for the kids. This would make anyone angry or hurt. But, what information do you have besides his actions to base your assessment on? He could have no idea that it's affecting you this way. My advice would be to talk to your ex-husband. Let him know how you feel about the gifts and trips. But - consider the trade-off of your custody agreement. Do you have the children the majority of the time? If so, he could be trying to make up for that with gifts, etc. He could see you as the one who's doing more for the kids because you live with them on a regular basis where as his time with them is limited. Come together as adults who share and love something very important - their children. Do not expose your kids to any negativity that may still exist between you. Divorce can be devastating on a child. You must put them first in situations like this. I've included a link to an article I wrote about divorce and custody conflicts. It includes some other tips that may be helpful for you. Good luck.
Posted On 2008-03-19 10:05:01
Rosalind Sedacca Replied: I acknowledge you for understanding and respecting the importance of not bad-mouthing your ex-husband to your children. You certainly are in a difficult situation when Dad spoils the kids with material abundance while you are financially struggling. Depending on the age of the children, you can talk to them about how Dad, like many grandparents and other relatives who do not live with the children on a daily basis, wants to make his time with them very special by treating them to things that are not part of 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 day-to-day routines, errands, chores, expenses, etc. that she has to tend to. So this way they get the best of both worlds. You can also talk to Dad, if your communication level allows that, and remind him of how his behavior appears from their perspective in terms of confusion, life lessons about fiscal responsibility, the consequences of spoiling children and related issues. Is Dad intentionally doing this to anger you -- or is it unconscious irresponsible behavior? Is he resentful about not seeing more of his children -- or intensionally trying to hurt you financially and then rub it in? Each of these factors plays a part in how you can best communicate the consequences for your children when Dad shows them different values and a different lifestyle than the one they are living with you.
Posted On 2008-03-16 18:02:46
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