When you were married, you and your spouse likely each helped your children buy gifts for the other one’s birthday, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, Christmas and other holidays. Now that you’re divorced, if you share custody, you still have that responsibility. At least you do until your kids are old enough to buy these presents without your money and/or other assistance — like a ride to the store and some help gift wrapping.
If you’re still stinging from the divorce, it’s understandable that you’re not in the mood to help buy your ex a gift. That’s why it’s important to remember that you aren’t doing this for them. You’re doing it for your child. They want to buy their parent a gift, and they’re counting on you for help. If they’re too young to remember that it’s their parent’s birthday or when Mother’s Day or Father’s Day is, it’s up to you to remind them and encourage them to do something nice — even if it’s just a card or a small handmade gift.
By helping your child celebrate these special days, you’re also teaching them some valuable lessons. You’re showing them that you and their mom or dad are still their parents and that you recognize the special place your co-parent holds in their life. You’re also showing them that you’re able to set aside your own negative or hurt feelings to do something you know is important to them.
Even if your co-parent didn’t remind your little one about your birthday or was too busy to help them pick out a Mother’s Day present, that’s no reason to do the same. If you think about it, maybe your ex never was good at remembering or celebrating those days. They may not be intentionally trying to hurt you. By taking the initiative to help your child with their gifts for their other parent, you may inspire your co-parent to do better the next time your birthday rolls around.
If there are larger problems in your co-parenting relationship that are causing your ex to neglect things more important than your birthday — like the terms of your parenting plan — it’s wise to talk with your family law attorney to find out what your options are.