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How To Deal With Jealousy Over Your Ex’s Indulgence With the Kids

Don't let material disparities get in the way of your relationship with your child.

Your ex showers the kids with vacations, gifts, and opportunities you can’t provide—and you resent it. Two parents and a divorce attorney offer guidance on how to cope with your feelings. 


“It took me years to become OK with the ‘Disneyland-style’ parenting my ex and his partner do, while I just try to keep a roof over our heads, afford our son’s sports, and work full time. Over the years, I’ve learned to trust that the bond I’m building with my son is real and comes from a place of grounded, unconditional love. I know he feels strength in our relationship. I still have some rough days where things don’t seem fair, but stripping away the comparison and jealousy, and staying rooted in love helps get me through.” 

—M.B., Denver, mother of a 14-year-old son


“First, give yourself grace…to be annoyed, to feel the inequity, and to feel torn between the financial benefit to the kids versus the unfairness. 

Second, when your kids come home from your ex’s, be positive and supportive. Do your best to control your nonverbal cues like body language and facial reaction to increase the kids’ willingness to share with you in the future. Shielding your children from adult frustrations of divorce and financial disparities is one of the most valuable gifts you can provide—even more than any extravagance your ex showers on them. 

Third, this may be an opportunity to revisit child-related expense sharing, such as sports uniforms, lessons, or camps that your ex can help with.  

In instances where income is grossly disparate, consult with a matrimonial or family law attorney about child support modification.” 

—Laura Ramsey, Denver, divorce/matrimonial attorney and mother of three


“As a stepparent and parent, I get it on both sides and completely empathize. We try to live simply when it comes to the things we have. But we know we’re in a better position to take the kids on vacations or little weekend adventures.

When either of our daughters comes back to us and shares anything they’ve done with their other parent, my husband and I always share in the excitement and tell them how much fun that sounds. There is no competition when it comes to spending quality time with children!

Once we all realized that there are not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ things to do with the kids during our allotted times with them, it became easy to appreciate and accept that they are allowed to (and should) enjoy themselves when they’re with the other parents.”

—Kate N., Aurora, mother to a five-year-old daughter and 11-month-old son, and stepmother to a four-year-old daughter

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