Webster’s dictionary defines gift as “something voluntarily transferred from one person to another without compensation.” This means an item is given freely without strings attached.
Abe and his younger brother had limited visitations with their father with no overnights. Due to previous abuse, they had a rocky relationship with their father and visitations did not always go smoothly.
Abe was overjoyed when his only present from his father for his 17th birthday was an x-box. Then his father revealed that it had to stay there and Abe was “free to come over anytime to play it.” He refused to let Abe take it with him. Abe did not own a car so was not “free to come over anytime to play it” nor did he want to increase visitations. He saw the inappropriate games that his father had been playing on it.
Do not buy your child an expensive gift and then not let him have it. Giving gifts with an ulterior motive backfires.
If there are certain entertainment devices that you want to have for visitations, then do not call them personal gifts, but rather an amusement for your home.
Instead, say that you have some games that may be fun to play when the child is at your house and inquire about what other ones would also be enjoyable.
Consider letting children take gifts back and forth between both houses especially when they are small items, such as jewellery. Bringing a present to both residences helps little ones stay attached to the absent parent.
To lessen the burden of packing and unpacking, it has become common for parents to have toiletries and some clothes at both locales. There may be other duplications to help the child feel at home and comfortable in both places. Make it clear by saying “Let’s get you some jeans, underwear, pyjamas, etc. for here, so you have less to pack. We will wash these between visits for you.” Call something a “decoration for your room here” such as a cool poster or collectible doll that you want to stay at your house.
My grandparents bought me lovely toys from Germany, which I automatically knew were to stay at their son’s residence. That was fine by me. Toys from my maternal aunts were kept at my mother’s place. Children in divorce suffer loss and do not need any more unnecessary ones nor to be caught in parental games.
Author of The Woman’s Holistic Guide to Divorce