I made a huge mistake early on after my divorce. Well, I made lots of them, but I’ll save those for future articles. This particular mistake impacted my daughter in a way I didn’t see coming at all.
Around three months after the divorce was final, I was packing my daughter’s things. Her Mom was on her way, and I had about ten minutes before the pickup (Landmine #1). My daughter announced she wanted to pack the latest toy we had purchased. My knee jerk reaction was to tell her “No, Daddy bought that for you and so it stays at Daddy’s house.”. The keyword there is “jerk”.
I failed to consider how it made my daughter feel if I refused to let her take something to her Mom’s home. It might be a new toy, a favorite set of pajamas, an outfit she wanted to wear, or even her tablet. My attitude was that I purchased those items and in a way I treated them as my own possessions. Why would I ever let them travel over to my ex’s house where they might get lost or broken? I was selfish and shortsighted.
Of course, my daughter became upset. It broke her heart that she could not take her new favorite possession with her. She didn’t understand my reasoning and why should she? It was not Daddy’s toy. It was her toy! In her mind, I was punishing her for some unknown reason by taking the toy away from her.
I took an already a difficult situation for my daughter and made it worse with my petty, selfish behavior.
I wish I had never made that mistake, but at least I can say that I learned from it. Never again did I demand my daughter leave “our” things at our house. She is free to bring whatever she would like to her Mom’s house. Ninety nine percent of those items make it back to my house just fine. On the rare occasion something gets lost or broken, her Mom works hard to find it or replace it for me. I do the same for her.
Her Mom and I worked out a system where we keep track of everything that floats back and forth between our homes. We keep a mental and sometimes written inventory of what is passing in and out of our doors. We respect the items that belong to the other parent and make sure we take good care of them. That’s key.
I’ve seen parents who keep clothing or other items indefinitely. That costs the other parent money and time, and in some cases can affect the child. Imagine you’re getting your kiddo ready for school. You realize his Dad failed to send back his coat, and it’s 30 degrees outside. You wanted to make an emergency run to the nearest clothing store at 7 am – right?
My daughter never stresses or worries about missing the things she needs, no matter where she is. She has enough to think about and consider. Her own stuff should not be one of them.
This is the second article in a series I’m writing about avoiding “landmines” you’ll encounter when you’re divorced with children. If you haven’t read the first article, go here to read my thoughts on the “The Handoff”.