So, you have a dilemma - it’s Mother Day or Father’s Day next weekend (you can input any special occasions- a birthday, Christmas, Veteran’s Day, etc.) and your co-parent gets to take your time to exercise the holiday. Most parents are upset about this impending loss of time and to make matters worse, your child has come home with this idea about getting a present for the other parent. A lot of co-parents would be quick to react and the whole situation turns negative really quickly. Rather than allowing this to be a negative, turn it into a positive for you and the child.
Having a good relationship with your co-parent is important for your child. In a lot of cases, your co-parent is not your favorite person, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t project that image to your child that you like your co-parent. It’s about the child and their needs. It isn’t about you and your feelings. Take a timeout and breathe. Count to ten before you respond. Think about putting the child first!
You do not need to provide a gift for the co-parent and in some instances it could be viewed negatively. So, forego the gift from you and instead, have the child make something for the co-parent. It could be as simple as a helping them make the co-parent a card, doing a pre-purchased craft (they even have them at dollar stores) or printing a picture out and letting the child paint a frame from the craft store. In these examples, the expense is probably less than $5.00, but the way you handle it can be remembered for a lifetime.
The key to making this a positive experience for the child is to avoid saying or doing anything that may make the child feel the tension or dislike that you may be feeling for the co-parent. A child does pick up on the littlest things- even facial reactions. An option, if you simply find it too difficult to emotionally handle the project, but understand the importance of the gesture would be to ask a friend or family member help the child complete the project and remind that person to make it a positive experience.
Why is this important? It shows the child that you don’t have animosity for the co-parent. It also shows the child that the co-parent is an important person in their life. Remember, you want the child to have a good relationship with both of you so that the child does not feel like a choice needs to be made between parents. As the child grows up, these little acts of kindness for the co-parent are something that will be remembered rather than fighting between their parents. Again, why create unnecessary conflict?