Advocate December 2018
THE GREATEST GIFT
Unfortunately, our firm is pretty busy this time of year. It’s not surprising — the pressure the holiday season puts on parents can bring long- simmering issues in a marriage to a boil. My team and I will always be proud to represent the women who come to us for aid during this trying time. Still, it’s heartbreaking to see so many families adjust to their new reality in the midst of the holidays. Indeed, this can be an especially painful time of year for divorced parents. Many mothers have expressed to me that even the act of Christmas shopping becomes almost a competition with their exes. This ramping up of gifts from one parent or the other is something I saw in my own childhood and can hopefully shed some insight on. Of course, my opinion may be slightly warped, considering I was the one benefiting from all the presents. I tell most mothers I represent to expect their exes to become “Mr. Dad.” Often, a divorce tends to be a bit of a wakeup call for fathers. While they may have not been as attentive to their children during the marriage, many men put the extra effort into being there for their children after the legal dust has settled. I understand why this can be frustrating or even painful for mothers. It can feel like he’s trying to start a competition for your children’s love. But as someone who watched her own father become Mr. Dad, I can safely say that this isn’t always the case. My dad spoiled my brother and me, especially when Christmas came around. Each time we spent the holidays with him, we each got stacks of presents larger than ourselves. Even today, I marvel at how good a shopper my father was.
Whatever the latest trends were for kids, he’d make sure it got under the tree. He even picked out individual wrapping paper for each of his kids and stepkids. This was Mr. Dad in full force. But not once during these holidays did my dad try to draw comparisons between our Christmases with him and those with my mother. In fact, he never said a negative word about her. Looking back, all those gifts were probably his effort to reconcile with my brother and me in his own way. More than anything, he just loved to make us smile. And it’s not like Christmases with our mother weren’t special. The presents may not have been as showy, sure — she was working her tail off just to afford tuition. But those holidays with her were spent surrounded by some of the most inspiring women I had in my life, including my loving grandmother and fun-loving aunt. Everyone in my mom’s family approached the holiday with joy and excitement that was contagious to my brother and me. Even as a little girl, I never felt like these Christmases were a letdown, just a different experience equally filled with love and laughter. If your ex is going through his own Mr. Dad transition this holiday season, here’s my advice to you: Ultimately, his motives don’t matter. Maybe he’s trying to make things a competition, or maybe he’s just genuinely trying to give your children a great experience. Either way, a child’s love can’t be bought. So long as you approach your own holiday traditions with joy, your kids will follow suit.
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Love can’t be bought, but it’s the greatest gift of all,
“LOOKING BACK, ALL THOSE GIFTS WERE PROBABLY HIS EFFORT TO RECONCILE WITH MY BROTHER AND ME IN HIS OWN WAY. MORE THAN ANYTHING, HE JUST LOVED TO MAKE US SMILE.”
-Heather Qu ick
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