Divorce brings plenty of sadness over the loss of "the family," but many Circle of Moms members who have been through one say it also brings continual angst over everyday issues, and especially over money. Arguments over who pays for what for the children is portrayed as a drag out war on the big screen (think War of the Roses) and in episodes of Real-life Housewives of Orange County, but it's the stuff of everyday life for many real families.
Circle of Moms member Crystal I. says that in a "healthy" divorce, both parents act consistently for the benefit of the kids. But, like many of her peers who receive little or no child support from their ex-husbands, she wonders what a mom is supposed to do when she's maxed out financially and forced to say no to requests for extras, only to find that her ex is buying the kids discretionary items like iPhones and other gadgets. "My kid's father sent my kids clothes and other gifts," she says, but at the same time, she's fighting him in court because he is not paying child support."
What do you do when he buys the children whatever they want while you're stuck scraping to cover the practical expenses of daily living?
Jennifer V. says she doesn't have any answers, but shares a frustration and outrage. "You pay the bills," she says. "You support your children's needs as well ... gifts should not replace meeting the needs of our children first. It is amazing that these guys ... give ‘gifts' in place of our children's needs."
Worse even is when ex-husbands bad mouth moms to their kids and suggest that she should purchase "anything [the] child wants because he paid you child support," says Samantha E. "My daughter (14 years old) seems to think that because her dad pays child support, I should buy her whatever she wants. Apparently when she asks dad for something he says ‘ask your mom, that's what I pay her for.' Nice, eh? My kids don't go without - all needs are met, but there are limits."
Bottom line, say moms, is that what should matter to dads is "paying child support instead of giving gifts," says Robertine L. "[We] mothers are always going the extra mile for our kids," she says. "You have to make sure they have a roof over their head as well as food and clothing. It's not fair to have to carry the load, and then he [gets to] give ‘the gifts.'"
So what is a mother to do? "Be frank with your kids," suggests Renee C. "Explain that even though [their] father pays child support [now], it is for food, housing, medical, etc. ... extra things have to be earned. And what's wrong with telling [them] that before, you did go without? I think that sometimes they should know."
What do you do when your ex undermines you?
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