Driving my kids to school the other day I caught wind of a hot topic over the radio waves. Droves of moms were calling in about “disneyland dads”. You know the story. Mom has little extra cash for the high ticket playthings, travels and amusement parks and Dad sweeps in with all the bells, and whistles and pirate treasure to boot!
I heard a classic story about this from an estate attorney just days before the radio show. One year for Christmas her kids had asked for scooters. She mindfully told their Dad so that they wouldn’t duplicate gifts. Yet, come Christmas morning the kids opened regular ol’ scooters from Mom, and electric powered ones from Dad. The would-be excitement for Mom of having worked so hard to deliver her children’s precise wishes on Christmas day was instantly extinguished by the “one-up” play by Dad.
It was painstakingly evident in just the 10 minute ride to the elementary school and back that this issue is about as wide spread as sunburns in summer. The DJ must have had his switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree as one Mom after another called it to lament her “story” about her “jerk”. One woman even audaciously, yet shamelessly, said “call Child Support Services so he has no money left to do it!”
Here’s the deal Moms (and Dads), if you are ever going to heal, be truly happy, move forward, and put your kids needs above all else, then you need to STOP THE INSANITY! Consider the following:
1) Never let your resentment for your ex outweigh your love for your children
Who do you have the issue with? When you were married did you care how much was spent on fun times for your kids, or was that your pleasure to indulge them together? I am guessing the latter. Now that you are divorced, if one parent still has the means to treat the kids, be grateful that those finances are still available to bless your kids childhood. One only needs to visit a 3rd world country, social services, or the foster care system to feel extremely blessed for the lives most of us lead. Be happy for your kids. If they would have had the Xbox, and the Legoland trip when you were married, why should it be any different when their parents divorce? Remember, it is you and your former spouse who divorced, not your kids.
2) “But he’s trying to buy my kids love and affection!” This may or may not be true. If it’s genuinely true, it will be short lived. When the kids are young, the gift purchases may temporarily create “googly eyes” and swoon their favor. However, if you are the parent with “less”, please remember, the quality of your relationship with your children FAR outweighs the quantity of treats and trips that can be bought. Solid parenting still has roots in structure, routine, boundaries, connection and communication just as it did when you were married. For some reason, parents become stricken with fear once they divorce thinking that the rules have somehow changed to a competition. Parenting hasn’t changed. Just check the parenting section at any bookstore and find any resource that advocate “buying a bunch of stuff” as an effective technique for building an effective and lasting relationship with your children. I assure you, it doesn’t exist.
3) “But he did it just to take a cheap shot at me!” Again this may or may not be true. However, it’s not our job here to discern the other persons intentions. What IS relevant is how you feel about it. None of us has any control over what another person does. We can only decide how we want to respond. This is where strong, loving parenting and role-modeling begins. So he/she took a cheap shot, what now? Will you have a fit of jealousy, resentment, and insecurity? Here’s a bit of an insight: jealousy is a result of believing someone else has something that you can NOT have yourself. Think about it this way, if your ex takes the kids to Disneyworld and you take them to Hawaii…would you still be jealous? If you consider the two trips to be relatively equal, then it probably would not be an issue.
I recommend a strategy that I advise entrepreneurs OFTEN because it can be a deadly mistake in business. That critical strategy is to shift from Competition to Creation. When you ‘compete’ you limit yourself to do nothing better than the other persons best effort. However, when you ‘create’, all doors of possibility blow open wide because NO ONE can ever duplicate YOU and your relationship with your children.
4) Shift your focus. We all have a choice of where we place our attention. As much as we like to think that we can multi-task and still be effective, it’s not entirely true. We all lose efficacy when multi-tasking and it’s next to impossible to be able to concentrate on two things at once and yield the same results. It’s the same with our mindset. We each have only 100% of energy at any given time. What would become possible if we each shifted from what “he” or “she” is doing (that irrates us and expends our emotional and mental energies) and focused instead on our personal goals and intentions? After all, the former we have very little power to change, but the later we have all the power to change. Which is worthy of your precious energy? If it’s a better financial future you have in mind, what steps are you taking to ensure you and your family achieve that goal? Shift your focus and place your energy back on your life, your future, your relationship with your kids, your happiness, and your goals. After all, you cannot get mad enough at another person to make positive change in your life.
This is a loaded topic and there is so much more to say. I would love to hear from you and have you share your idea and experiences. If you’d like to take this information to a new level in your life, please fill out our online form for a complimentary session and we’ll get you started!