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Divorced Florida parents: Are you spoiling your kids?

If you've gone through a divorce, you know how difficult it can be for the entire family. Although divorce can be emotionally exhausting for both spouses, those who have children tend to want to protect them from feeling depressed or confused, and may resort to counter-productive measures.

Many Florida parents attempt to ease the pain of divorce for their children by showering them with gifts, special dinners and vacations, believing that any distraction from the divorce is worth the financial setback. Others may spend money on their kids as a means of winning favor over the other parent. But this tactic could end up doing more harm than good, for a number of reasons.

First, it creates an unfair situation for your child's other parent, particularly if he or she has custody. Because a divorce can often cut a household income in half, custodial parents often struggle to afford even basic necessities for their children. If a child is treated to extra toys, expensive clothing and dinners at their favorite restaurant every time he or she visits the non-custodial parent, that child is bound to start favoring that parent, and may become resentful toward the mother or father who can't afford the same treatment.

Children who are spoiled by one parent are also likely to develop unreasonable expectations. Once your guilt over the divorce subsides and financial reality sets in, how will you respond to your child if he expects you to keep pulling out your wallet every time he wants something new?

Another reason to avoid the urge to spend extra money on your kids: Teaching them the value of money and family begins with your own habits. Being frugal isn't as much fun as going on a shopping spree, but in the long term, your kids may learn that it has its own benefits. And ultimately, material gifts are not what most kids end up cherishing about their parents. They're much more likely to remember the time you spent together, the encouragement you gave, and the lessons you taught them once they become adults themselves.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Spoiled? How Buying Your Kids Love During A Divorce Can Hurt Them And You," Suzanna de Baca, Oct. 26, 2012

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