Dear Dr. Jann: My kids are with me and my ex on a 50/50 basis. I find it very hard to get their clothing back and it’s tough when they don’t have enough clothing here. My kids are 5 and 7. Please help!

Dr. Jann says: One of the most common complaints I hear is about children’s clothing. Parents tell me, “I buy the clothes and I never see them again. They’re my clothes!”

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Truth is, they are the kids’ clothes and not returning them is actually a passive aggressive attempt at control. It all boils down good communication between homes and your ability to problem solve together as co-parents. Look for a solution together by discussing your expectations and how you both would like to achieve that goal. If you can’t, a 50/50 parenting plan is not practical. It will be detrimental for your children.

I have been working with divorced parents for over 20 years, but much of what I know comes from living it. I have four kids-two bio, two bonus. My two bonus kids went back and forth between their mother’s home and ours for 15 years. My bonus son rarely wore his “good” clothes, yet his mom and I would each keep them at our house and not return them. We both wanted something nice available if there was a special occasion. One day when we were moving, I was cleaning out my bonus son’s closet and found a pair of “good” pants hanging in the closet. They were boys size 8. My bonus son was then 15 and 6’1”. I laughed at how ridiculous we had been. I was grateful that we had progressed to positive problem solving.

Put your children first—not their clothes. Make your child’s transition from house to house easier by openly looking for the compromise—and then stick to it.

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About Jann Blackstone

Jann BlackstoneDr. Jann Blackstone specializes in divorce, child custody, co-parenting, and stepfamily mediation and is often called the “Relationship Expert for Today’s Relationships” because of her “real life, down-to-earth” approach to relationship problem solving. She is the author of six books on divorce and parenting, the most popular, the Ex-etiquette series featuring Ex-etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After Divorce or Separation. She is also the author of the Ex-etiquette syndicated column and a frequent guest or consultant on television and radio talk shows, including Good Morning America (ABC), The Today Show (NBC), Keeping Kids Healthy (PBS), the Early Show (CBS), and The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has been the featured expert in many magazines, including, Child, Parents, Parenting, Newsweek, Family Circle, More, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, BRIDES, Woman’s Day, and Working Mother Magazine.

In 1999, Dr. Jann founded and became the first Director of Bonus Families®, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization working to change the way society views stepfamilies by supplying up-to-date co-parenting information via its Web site, counseling, mediation, and a worldwide support group network. They prefer to use the word “bonus” to the word step. Step implies negative things; however, a “bonus” is a reward for a job well done. “Bonus…a step in the right direction.”