For separated parents, Mother’s Day might inspire dread or discomfort, especially if the split is recent or less than amicable. A more optimistic view is that Mother’s Day can also be an opportunity to show your kids and your ex that maturity means acknowledging the past without wallowing in it.
A romantic relationship may end, but when children are involved, the relationship itself is never completely over. The relationship needs to change and adapt, and the way you handle making the necessary adjustments can directly impact whether the separation is a smooth transition or a rocky road.
After a separation occurs, difficult or uncomfortable situations may arise that must be met with understanding and open communication for the sake of the children. Mother’s Day has the potential to be one of those situations, but it doesn’t have to be.
It is widely acknowledged that children learn from parents. The exchanges they witness between parents can leave enough of an impression to permanently influence the relationships they will have as adults. Unique to separated parents, your shared history is not limited to the past. It is happening now, and it can shape how your children develop.
You may be hoping that your connection with your ex will only extend to the moment the children reach adulthood, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Your connection with your ex doesn’t get severed when your children are eighteen. There are still defining moments in their lives when they will want both parents present- moments such as graduation, college, moves, marriage and childbirth.
Remember that although you are separated, you are each an important person in your children’s lives, and for their sake, you and your ex need to be able to be civil and respectful with one another.
Even though there may be some residual negativity between you and your ex, it is important to keep that away from the children. You would not want your ex damaging your reputation with your children, so don’t voice any negative remarks about your ex in front of your kids. If your ex has already done so, don’t follow suit. That kind of behavior reflects poorly on the person engaging in it. Be the bigger person, and you will also be teaching your children a valuable lesson.
There are a few factors that can determine what type of gift is appropriate to give your ex on Mother’s Day or whether a gift should be given at all. The first factor that must be considered is whether your breakup is recent and whether a gift may be viewed as an attempt to win favor or manipulate her feelings. Another factor that could affect how Mother’s Day Gifts for your ex are regarded is if your ex has a significant other who may view your gift as threatening.
The most important aspect to consider is how your children feel about the gift-giving aspect of Mother’s Day. If your children are young, chances are they will enjoy creating a home-made gift for mom. Encourage the creativity of your children, and that way, a gift will come from the heart, directly from the kids. This will remove the focus from you. If your children are a little older, take them out shopping and help them pick out an appropriate gift for their mother and a card they can personally sign.
Some other ideas for kid-focused gifts are photobooks with pictures of the kids, T-shirts or coasters decorated with handprints of the kiddies are another well-loved sentimental gift. Kid-friendly crafts mean quality time with your children and a fun keepsake for mom that will ease the pressure of coming up with a suitable gift for your ex on Mother’s Day.
Depending on the interests of your children, a Mother’s Day gift could be the inspiration for a new hobby or activity your children may enjoy. Instead of directly buying a gift for your ex, get your children materials that will allow them to make something for their mother.
If you have been present for pivotal moments in your children’s lives that your ex may have missed, consider compiling them into a short movie she can keep and enjoy. There are many simple editing apps you can use that can help you make a short film of snap shots from moments at recitals, sporting events, playtime, birthday parties and other moments. Make her gift something she appreciate long after the day.
The nice part of giving a home movie as a gift is that it can be emailed. That way, if there is any awkwardness or anger between you and your ex, you don’t have to see each other face-to-face to give a gift, but you are still making the effort to acknowledge her as a mother. You can add a personal note in the email that says how you wanted her to have it to add to her own collection of memories. Whatever you do decide to write, make sure that it never has any negativity or hints at any inequality in childcare or activities.
Visit a hobby shop with a decent selection, and let your children determine where their interests lead. They may want paints and canvas, t-shirt kits, sewing kits or even clay. If your children like music, consider taking them to a music shop to look around. Since instruments can be expensive, you can go there for ideas then go to some second-hand shops, garage sales or search online to purchase the instrument. This shopping excursion could even help your children discover a talent they can explore.
If you would like to get your ex a Mother’s Day Gift beyond what will be given on behalf of the children, choose a practical gift that is neutral and has no romantic overtones. A nonthreatening gift that is a gesture of respect can let your children and your ex know that she is appreciated.
Another Mother’s Day gift idea consists of coming up with activities that your ex can enjoy with the kids. Tickets to a local zoo or aquarium or a gift-card to a kid-themed restaurant or establishment show that you respect your ex’s relationship with the children and value the time they spend together. Be sure to check with your ex about dates to avoid buying tickets because she may already have plans.
If this Mother’s Day gift is being given at a time when there is still some negativity, consider getting a gift that can be delivered to avoid any awkward exchanges that could accidentally increase the animosity. If you feel that flowers or chocolates may send the wrong message, consider sending a plant instead. Our florists at Bernies Flower Shop in Oakmont, PA, are always happy to help you pick an appropriate gift to be delivered right to her door.
One example of a neutral gift for your ex this Mother’s Day is a gift card for a shop that does not have any romantic overtones. Avoid giving a gift that could either be viewed as intimate or anything that could spark an unpleasant memory. For example, a gift card to Target is probably a safe option while a gift card to Victoria Secret is asking for trouble. However, make it a reasonable amount. Don’t go too extravagant.
Another gift idea could be tickets for an event she might enjoy or items that coincide with a hobby. A thoughtful gift that is personal in nature but devoid of romantic implications could help bridge any rift that may have formed during the process of separating.
The best gift you can give your ex on Mother’s Day is time with the children. If you share custody and happen to be scheduled to have the kids that day, step back and let her have them instead to celebrate her special day. This is a gesture that shows generosity and will help encourage good will in the long run.
There are some pitfalls you need to avoid when giving Mother’s Day gifts to your ex. The first is for those individuals who may be reconsidering or regretting the separation. Although it may be tempting and Mother’s Day may induce some nostalgia, avoid trying to win back your ex with romantic gifts. It will seem shallow and may even come across as insincere or manipulative. A gift with selfish intentions is capable of backfiring and having the opposite effect of what you intended.
Another factor that needs to be considered is if either you or your ex have moved on and developed relationships with other people. It is important to consider the feelings of others. Talk to your ex prior to Mother’s Day to prevent creating any unnecessary drama. If your ex’s current partner has plans for celebrating Mother’s Day with her and the children, step aside and let them celebrate together.
If you are in a relationship, talk to your current partner about your Mother’s Day situation. Make sure your partner feels important and knows that your intentions are purely platonic. Clarify that any Mother’s Day gifts or celebrations are for the sake of the children. Listen to the opinion of your significant other and understand that situations like these can sometimes make people feel left out or even jealous. If your partner seems uncomfortable, be understanding and do your best to assuage any worries or concerns.
Open communication with everyone involved is important for preventing uncomfortable situations. Try to stay calm and rational. If Mother’s Day starts to unearth resentment or negative emotions, refrain from letting the holiday upset you, your ex or anyone else involved. It may be necessary to step back, disengage and even distance yourself entirely, if everything is already taken care of for your children. After all, the children are the ones who really matter.
If your ex still has hard feelings toward your separation and voices these feelings in a way that is hurtful or insulting, don’t reciprocate. Take the high road. Refrain from saying or doing anything you may regret or be unable to change.
If you find it difficult to show restraint when confronted with your ex’s anger, do your best to try to recall happier times. Regardless of what has happened between you, there was a reason you were together in the first place. If you try hard enough, you can usually find something positive about anyone, and chances are, there are things you still like about your ex, especially if she is a good mother.
You may not be together, but you and your ex still have a relationship to maintain for the sake of the children. To be successful in getting along with one another and with your children, you must both be open to change. As the children grow, they will change and so will their needs. You and your ex must be able to work together, adapt and communicate to see your children through the many stages they will go through in their lives.
Do what you can to make Mother’s Day as simple and stress-free as possible for everyone involved. Realize that the holiday may be hard for your ex, so try to overlook any unpleasant behavior. Accept whatever comes your way on Mother’s Day and do your best to be accommodating and understanding. Families are all different, but they all share one common theme. Families form an important foundation for a child, so keep that in mind on Mother’s Day and every other day. Their well-being is what is most important.