There’s this difficult, awkward, and even painful thing that can happen when you divorce a man with whom you have children: one person becomes the rich parent and one becomes the poor (or at least less rich) parent. When you were together, you had joint resources. Every birthday gift, piano lesson, or vacation with a present from both mom and dad. The child never compared who spoiled him more because you and your partner spoiled the kid together. Even if you didn’t technically spoil him (and hopefully you didn’t, really), when you treated your child to something special, it came from both parents. Once you divorce, you’re mostly back to your separate assets. You may receive alimony or have gotten some of your ex’s money in a divorce, but things will level back out. Here’s what can happen if you’re divorced, and your ex has more money to spoil the kids.
Pressure to make great meals
You feel a lot of pressure to make meals really well. Your heart sinks if the kids mention the fish being overcooked or there not being a special dessert. You know their dad just takes them to restaurants where they can have whatever they want, but you can’t afford that.
But a home-cooked meal is better
I promise you that when your kids get older, it won’t be any restaurant meal they had with dad that makes them smile with nostalgia. It will be those home-cooked meals, made by mom. Those will be the foods they crave and the memories they miss.
You fear visits aren’t as exciting
You worry that visits with you aren’t as exciting as visits with their dad. Dad takes them to the mountains to go skiing. Dad takes them to beach resorts. He takes them on trips. You, meanwhile, can really just afford to have the kids come share your one guest room to see you in your home town.
They just want to see you
Honestly, your kids just want to spend time with you. Sure, those trips their dad takes them on are exciting, but they don’t need those trips to be happy with the visit. In fact, sometimes the best family time is had just in the home—not at some resort or on a cruise.
You worry your gifts pale in comparison
You made your child a sweater while your ex bought her an ipad. Naturally, you worry that your gift doesn’t hold up. You even have to talk to the ex about having some sort of spending limit on gifts, so the kids don’t feel like mom is just cheap.
Love is what matters
Keep in mind that sometimes, when parents give expensive gifts, it’s to make up for not being there in the ways that matter—like lending a listening ear and just spending time with the child. Maybe you don’t have the money your partner has, but he probably works 80-hour weeks to have that money, and is mentally distant because of it. And your handmade sweater is more personal.
Being there financially is tricky
It can be tough when your child needs help with a bill and you can’t pay for it. Not being able to pay for a kid’s medical bill, for example, is really painful.
You provide other support
Just be grateful that between you and your partner, somebody can pay the child’s bill. Beyond that, being an emotional support is everything. That’s one of the things your kid will remember from this tough time.
He may know their friends more
Because he can afford to treat more people to dinner or bring more people to the vacation, your ex may get to know your kids’ friends more than you do.
Get creative; invite the friends
Don’t be embarrassed to just have the kids over for a game night. Or you can rent a projector and have an outdoor movie night. Don’t let your pride over money get in the way of you’re getting to know your kid’s friends.
He may see them more
This one is, admittedly, quite tough. Your ex may see the kids more because he can afford to. If you don’t live in the same town as the kids, your ex may have the money to fly out and visit them, and get a hotel. You don’t have that.
Ask the ex for a little help
Truly, it’s okay to ask your ex to split a plane ticket for you to visit the kids. Spending time with their mother is important for the wellbeing of the children, so your ex should be happy to help fund that.
He can take them to special events
Beyonce concerts and the like—the ex can take your kids to those. You see those social media posts and you feel sad that you can’t provide those experiences.
You can make things special
Maybe you can’t afford Beyonce tickets, but maybe your friend who owns a restaurant will let the kids come through and give them a cooking class on making their own pizza. Maybe the local aquarium has a free night, and you can bring sleeping bags, snacks, and make it feel like an adventure. Children have great imaginations and appreciate that kind of thing.
Honestly, kids don’t care
The money thing won’t be an issue for long. Sure, little kids are charmed by gifts and concert tickets, but as your kids get older, they’ll just value time with you—no matter how you spend that time.