When Co-Parents Disagree Over Elaborate Gifts

On behalf of Peterson, Berk & Cross, S.C.

When you co-parent children with someone who lives in a different household, it is good to be on the same page as far as bedtimes, house rules and internet use go. This consistency helps keep children on an even keel, but children can thrive even when their lives are different at both homes.

Of course, disagreements with your co-parent over these issues bother you, but there might not be much you can do about it when your child is at the other house. However, what about elaborate gifts? Say that you want to give your child a top-of-the-line phone while your co-parent prefers a budget phone. The opposite type of situation could apply, in which your co-parent purchases your teen an expensive car while you prefer a budget model. How can co-parents handle such disagreements, especially since the child will want to bring the gift into both households?

Some give and take

One tactic is to “give in” sometimes, especially for the gifts you do not care as much about. This way, the odds are likely better that you would get your point across with an issue you feel strongly about.

Different perspective

Another approach is to think about the situation from the other parent’s point of view. Why is he or she so dead-set on this gift? Is it because the parent does not get to see the child much and feels this is a way to compensate? Was the parent raised a certain way and is just following patterns set long ago? Is it because your child’s friends all have that product? There are really no right or wrong reasons to give gifts, but it may help to remind yourself that the parent might not be giving the gift to make your life or co-parenting relationship harder.

Focus on safety

If both parents agree that the child’s safety comes first, then compromise can be easier. In the case of an expensive car that you deem unsafe, maybe the two of you can compromise on a car that is still expensive but has many safety features.