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Ugh. This is petty, but I have to vent.

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I am not sure if it's "safe" to say these things here, but I am going to.  Please do not flame me if your views on toys are different.  I have been trying to get access to the private forum with no response.


XH and I separated in January. We have two girls ages 7 and 8.  He recently took the 8yo to the store and she came home with a brand-new plastic PVC made-in-China Disney doll from Wal-Mart, that he allowed her to spend her own money on part of.  And today is our 7yo's birthday and he bought her brand-new plastic PVC Disney made-in-China 'polly pockets' dolls.  I have very strong feelings against buying our kids Disney crap and also against buying off-gassing plastic PVC toys for them, especially brand-new.


I don't know what do with my feelings about this.  It's like a slap in the face along with everything else that is going on.  Could he not have chosen things for them that would have been in line with my values, too?!


I have always been in charge of gifts and managing the kids' toy collection.  He asked me if we were going to do a joint gift for this birthday and I said no way.  Separate = not joint, and though he was the initiator, he does not seem to get that.  But "not joint" doesn't mean to blatantly disregard the other parents' feelings about things, especially when he knows how I feel about these things.


I want to send him an e-mail asking him if he's intentionally trying to piss me off with this new plastic Disney crap, and ask him to please stop.  Because it IS pissing me off, and it's not in his best interest to heap coals on that fire.  Would it be bad for me to do this?


How do you navigate these things?  It's bad enough trying to navigate the gifts thing with extended family, but with an ex...arghhh.  I've always aimed for simple and Waldorfy and homegrown...this Walmart plastic Disney crap is yet another insult (on top of the girlfriend, and the abandoning our marriage, etc).


I will absolutely explode if he buys them Barbies.  I had better figure that one out before we get there. 


Don't say, "Be glad he's participating in their birthdays."  I know there is a spectrum here.  That doesn't mean I have to just take whatever from him, does it?  Like divorcing me means he can ditch all of our prior truces about these things?


How do you shelter your kids and keep their environment natural and healthy and good, if you can't control anything their dad does?? What if he gives them something that is totally unacceptable to you?

post #2 of 20

I totalllly get the need to vent. But ultimately, I think this is the kind of thing you give up control over when you separate from your child's other parent. No plastic toys is a priority for you. It's not a priority for your ex. So now you have to find some kind of compromise or way to deal with the two different priorities.

My ex occasionally feeds our son McDonald's, I would rather eat cardboard than go there. I'm not crazy about my son eating that junk, and I've talked to my ex about making sure he limits the McD visits to once a month or so because of how unhealthy the food is. We both got on board with the compromise of very limited fast food, as a treat. But ultimately I can't "make" him not take DS there. He's a parent too and he also gets to make decisions for DS. And he doesn't take him there to piss me off, he takes him there because they both enjoy it and he doesn't think it's as big a deal as I do. It's not about me. 

I know how easy it can be to get angry about this kind of thing, especially when it's heaped on top of really big issues like infidelity. But try to not put yourself in the center of it. Maybe he is doing it deliberately to irritate you. Or maybe he just thinks the girls would like the plastic disney toy. Either way, it's not a hill that I would choose to die on. If you send an angry email making it about yourself, it won't get anyone anywhere. If you feel like you're able to have a conversation about the topic without saying things you'd regret, try that route. Maybe you would be able to work out a compromise. You could also say the toys aren't allowed in your house, but that might not go over well with your daughters.

It's really really hard getting to the point of a functional coparenting relationship. And it takes time. But ultimately, it's really worth it. 

Again, I do totally get it and I understand why you're angry and venting. It's a really hard situation. But try to separate the toys from the bigger adult issues of the divorce. And it's really hard, but eventually you do have to accept the fact that as long as he's not doing anything illegal or abusive, you can't control how he parents on his time. 


post #3 of 20

I'm not a single parent, totally forum crashing, but I wanted to say that I understand how frustrating this can be.  My mother doesn't honor our wishes when it come to toys either, and I have a lot less stipulations than most moms around here.Can you stipulate that the plastic junk toys be kept at his house?  And that they are not allowed to spend allowance on them?




post #4 of 20

Vent on.


I see it slightly differently from MamaJen. It's the risk we take when we make a baby with a partner. While it screams against every cell of my maternal being, I only get to be fifty percent decision maker in this society.


I hate it. I feel you. It is sabotage. But in my experience, the wisest thing to do is disengage, get therapy (at least make an informal group of bitch-and-moan friends who are wise enough to not WALLOW indefinitely or accept it from you). Being a strong, happy person is the only way to truly influence them(the kids, i mean).


Yes, it sounds like the ex is trying to break your mind. Don't willingly board the crazy train with him. For goodness sake, don't email him asking him if he's trying to piss you off. This is a great time for you to take further steps of being totally single and no longer emotionally invested in how he acts.


It's not easy!

post #5 of 20

I have similar rules at my house.  In the very early days of our living apart, XH would occaisionally bring DS home with a Buzz Lightyear toy or something along those lines.  It did bother me after working so hard to avoid that kind of thing in our house...but I learned to disengage.  He did it to make DS happy.  I don't doubt for a minute that he also did it to assert some of his own power as a parent since it really was my values we'd been supporting all along.  He went with it, but never really bought in all the way.  I chose not to fight about it.  I let DS pack toys to go back and forth between our homes during visits.  Frequently the plastic ones go to Daddy's and don't come back for months.  And I just focus on keeping our home peaceful.


That being said...I don't personally get too worked up about Made in China or Disney.  I absolutely understand why people do...but for me and my family, it's not at the top of my list.  So when he does something like that, it annoys me, but didn't make me really upset.  That's probably the biggest reason it was easier for me to disengage. 


And, for us anyway, when I didn't flip out about XH getting DS a toy from the store now and then, he really didn't push it.  Different exs might behave differently, but XH has been pretty good about it.  And for that peace, I am grateful! 


I really do get it!  Having an all natural toy collection is a big effort and life decision.  It does hurt to see something introduced by someone who once supported your decisions. 


It could be that next gift-giving holiday, you take him up on the offer to go together if you feel inclined.  Or give solid suggestions..."the girls would really LOVE some new paints, this book, a zoo membership, ...."  or "I'm going to give them xyz, if you'd like to give them xxx that would complete the gift, it would be great".  But obviously, the ability to do that depends on your relationship when the time comes.   Right now, things were obviously too raw to do that.  Maybe by next year? 


Or get sneaky and start having Nova Natural, etc catalogs shipped to his house.  :)  Then the girls can point out things they'd love and he could see how excited they'd be! 

post #6 of 20

I'm not one to get worked up over toys, but anything that I don't want or don't have space for stays at Dad's house.  You should make that rule, and then the toys that you purchase for them, and approve of will be at your house, and the ones he purchases stay at his.  It works for us mostly, although there are a few items that travel back and forth occasionally.

post #7 of 20

That would really bother me if we had lived a certain lifestyle for years and years, then XH seems to buy the toys just to spite me.


However, over the last 4 years of being divorced, I have learned to let go.  XH does stuff that bothers me, and I am sure I do stuff that bothers him.

post #8 of 20




Don't say, "Be glad he's participating in their birthdays."  I know there is a spectrum here.  That doesn't mean I have to just take whatever from him, does it?  Like divorcing me means he can ditch all of our prior truces about these things?


Unfortunately I do think that *is* what divorce means. If its that important (vaxing, religious beliefs, etc) put in the divorce agreement. Otherwise I think you need to let go of control and recognize these kind of conflicts are going to come up often so you need to be prepared on how to handle them. Maybe talk about these things again before the next gift giving holiday?

post #9 of 20

I think this would be a good place to start talking about how he may do things one way and you may do things another but you both love them the same amount. I couldn't care less what toys my daughter plays with(ok no small parts for babies and what not and none of those amazing looking Bucky Balls til the recommended age of 12)but I know I love her very much and not caring what she plays with means I rarely have to buy her toys(birthday parties are enough!) which is awesome!


post #10 of 20
Originally Posted by AttunedMama View Post



I see it slightly differently from MamaJen. It's the risk we take when we make a baby with a partner. While it screams against every cell of my maternal being, I only get to be fifty percent decision maker in this society.


Very true. The split decision making power doesn't start at divorce, it starts at birth (or even earlier). 

Honestly, I think there are two appropriate ways to handle the situation. The first option is to choose to ignore it -- you can decide that this is a relatively small issue that isn't worth the battle. The second option is to talk about it rationally and respectfully with your ex. I know it's hard when you're angry at him about the dissolution of the marriage. But you could raise the issue, maybe via email, and ask him if he would be willing to keep the same toy standards that you have. I think it's important to phrase it as an issue that impacts your children, rather than making it about you or about adult disagreements between the two of you. And then if he disagrees, you ultimately have to accept the fact that his priorities are different from yours in this situation, and that's not something you can control.

post #11 of 20

I think I'm basically repeating what some of the others have said, but...   You can't control someone else, and especially (& unfortunately, in many circumstances) not an ex (and this is coming from the likes-to-control-everything Queen).  You can control what comes into your home, although I would think hard on it first before I restricted/banned specific toys.  I'm saying that from personal experience because my XH doesn't like anything he buys for DS (even sippy cups) to "cross over to the other side"  and at times it has been very hurtful for DS to have to leave behind a favorite possession until he returns to his dad's.  He had to leave behind all of the birthday presents he received from his dad's side of the family less than a day after he got them...he barely had a chance to play with them, and that was really, really tough for my little guy to do.


IMO, if your ex is intentionally buying those toys to tick you off, then it may be best to ignore him.  He's trying to get a response out of you, and if he doesn't get one, then he'll more than likely give up, or at least tone the buying way down.  If he is truly buying the toys because he thinks it will make his children happy, then you may get a better result if you approach him with "these are my thoughts on this subject, how can we work together/compromise?" rather than writing an angry email. 


As for how I navigate this issue, DS has a small (toddler-sized) backpack and he is allowed to choose what toys or other things to take when he visits his dad or his grandparents.  The only rule is that everything has to fit comfortably in the backpack, and it has worked pretty well so far.  As DS gets older, I hope to have many discussions about responsible spending, why I choose to buy or not buy things, the basics of advertising, etc.

post #12 of 20
I think it could be potentially harmful to the kids if you make an issue of it. I'm kind of more going on the philosophy of the Mom's House, Dad's House book in saying this. Even if it's a less than ideal gift, the child may only understand the --gift-- aspect of it and not having a choice over where to have the toy or to keep it at all is what could be hurtful. They shouldn't have to choose between you two and I take that to extend to choosing between your lifestyles and philosophies. That's not to say there aren't subtle ways to send the toy to dad's or grandma's house, etc. but I think you do have to let go of overtly controlling what he does or doesn't choose to buy them.
post #13 of 20

i'm sorry.  i know how frustrating it is to have your ex (or current partner!) make parenting decisions that are so far off-base from your values, especially when it feels like they're doing it to spite you (even though it's probably more careless than malicious).


yes, it would be "bad" to send that email, in my opinion.  not terribly bad behavior, but bad for you.  if you piss him off by implying that you should have any say in the toys he chooses for his/your kids, or if you lose your credibility on the topic by implying that his choice was intended to insult you, you lose your chance to appeal to him as an intelligent, caring parent who wants to please his daughters.  if you give him the benefit of the doubt and approach the topic respectfully, you have a (slim) chance to win him over to seeing things more your way.  to do that, you would have to focus on your mutual desire do what is best for your children, not how right you are and how wrong he is.


in this particular case, i'd try to influence toy choices by having an online "wish list" for your kids that features the kind of toys they might like (and remind him that you've been adding the things they've asked for, whenever gift-giving times approach); remind him of stores that have a lot of things the girls like (or actually, you would like for them); maybe email/forward some info from these websites:



and/or email links to specific items the girls are asking for, like, "i'm getting her this dress up stuff from novanatural, but she also wants these art supplies," or something.

post #14 of 20

What does your gut tell you about his motives?  In my case, my ex and I differ on a number of lifestyle issues (he could eat deep-fried fast food crap every day and be fine with it- I don't think he's ever made a salad!), and what I realized over time was that he rarely did things out of spite, but out of cluelessness or laziness.  When we were together we were a typical codependent unit where I overfunctioned in terms of taking care of the family, and he very much underfunctioned.  This hasn't changed.  The quality of food we eat is super important to me- yet every freaking Tuesday night my kids get junky cheap takeout pizza.  One time he commented that he'd love to cook more, but he works full-time.  HELLO?  Much of the world works full time yet manages to throw something decently healthy for dinner.  He was used to coming home to a healthy, delicious meal cooked from scratch every day that he never had to prepare, and so he remains clueless. 


Now, if he were doing any of this out of anger or spite, I think I'd flip my lid...but I know it's because he's just useless in many regards.  In a charitable moment I actually pity him.


Anyhow, I bite my lip, let it go, and I pick and choose my battles.  We're still negotiating our agreement, and there are bigger things that we don't agree on.  I basically let the food thing go and console myself by the fact that he has them only 25% of the time.

post #15 of 20
Originally Posted by HollyBearsMom View Post



Unfortunately I do think that *is* what divorce means. If its that important (vaxing, religious beliefs, etc) put in the divorce agreement. Otherwise I think you need to let go of control and recognize these kind of conflicts are going to come up often so you need to be prepared on how to handle them. Maybe talk about these things again before the next gift giving holiday?


I agree with the PPs in that as annoying as it is you just have to pick your battles. My XH put dd in pampers-type sposies (she has always been in cloth or occasionally something like 7th gen when necessary for sposies), bought plastic toys, etc. The big battles that I felt he would slide on because they were more my values (i.e., vax) I put in the divorce agreement.


I think the only recourse that makes sense to me is to explain to your kids why you do things a certain way. They may choose to make those decisions about where to spend their money or what they want as they get older and start thinking for themselves.


post #16 of 20

I hate getting things that are not in line with what I want in the house but divorce does mean that you get to make you each get to make your own decisions about what you value for your children without one parent taking control of the power to decide.  It was a relief to get to be my own person after divorce without the fear of an argument and your ex may be feeling that same relief.  I gave in a lot when I didn't really agree because it was easier to give in than fight.  Now that I am divorced I don't have to worry about fighting with my ex because I can hang up or have him arrested for trespassing.  It sounds like he didn't agree with you on this issue even though it is one that really matters to you and now that you are divorced he does get to decide through trial and error what his views are.  He may buy and do many things that you formerly agreed not to do as he finds his feet as his own person and decides on the issues that truly matter to him.  The gifts you don't want them to have should go to his house with them on their next visit to be enjoyed there.  That way you don't have to make an issue out of toys when there will probably be many bigger issues you need to dig your heels in about down the road.  If you make Polly Pocket a big issue how seriously will he take you when it comes to something like vaccinating or spanking?

post #17 of 20

My split is somewhat new, and I am continually shocked at how the former agreements (and even the current agreements, sometimes) are ignored. I am trying to believe that, in addition to the manipulation and efforts to annoy me, that there is some level of truly trying to make the kids happy and be a "good dad."  But it is SO hard, particularly when things happen like you are dealing with...


KDC, Mom to TCC (9 yo DD) and LSCC (5 yo DS)

post #18 of 20

Another non-single parent forum crasher, sorry!


My guess is that buying the plastic toy was done because it was easy, not (only) just to spite you. Finding a nice Waldorf-y gift takes effort and usually pre-planning (because you generally have to order it ahead of time) and most guys are not capable of that. With plastic crap, you can go to any big box store in the country and get a quick gift for a few bucks, guaranteed to make almost any little girl happy.


My kids get birthday parties because I plan them. I put a LOT of thought and time and effort into putting the party on. My kids get gifts because I shop for them. My husband simply isn't capable of doing these things. If it were left to him, he'd call and invite people the day before the party and buy cupcakes at Walmart while he grabbed whatever junk he could find as a gift.


I get why you are irritated, but I think you are going to have to let it go. You cannot control what he buys the kids, although it is totally in your right to say that it can't come to your house. I don't blame you for not wanting it at your home.

post #19 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies, and thanks for understanding my venting.  It helped a lot to read your perspectives on this.

post #20 of 20

We're a blended family rather than a single parent family now but this issue comes up a bunch on a number of issues.  Does this annoy me?  Yes.  Do i make an issue of it?  Nope.


Mama's house: mama's rules

Dada's house: dada's rules.


YES, it kills me when she's allowed to ditch a nutritionally balanced meal i've provided (when visiting with him i often take lunch as he's financially over burdened) and eat a raw carrot instead for lunch because she doesn't want to sit at the table away from her videogame/audiobook/puzzle pieces for the 15minutes it would take her to eat it.  YES it bugs me that every time he takes her out they manage to go to a thrift store and pick up (often for free as she is so polite and sweet) another bagful of tiny crappy toys (seriously, happymeal type toys!) which i know i'll be removing from my baby's mouth/my vaccum cleaner/the skin on the soles of my feet for the next month.  UH-HUH i will go potty if i hear "but Dada let's me" one more time in reference to some other crazy thing like putting your feet up on the bus seats/spitting in the street/swearing.


BUT i only have so much say, and so much control.  I can control what goes on in MY house.  That is all.  We have a loose situation that about half of her toys are at his house, so if i get totally sick of something i just pack it and take it over there.  I can usually stand crap for a short time, so i've not (yet) had to say "don't bring that in my house!".  It's working both ways too because soon the rocking horse will have to go to his to make room for DD2's cot in her room here, and that is a boon (because she likes it enough that she doesn't want it going away for good and we just don't have room for it anywhere else).


When you separate you do lose a lot of say and control.  Your views don't get to trump his like they might have in a family home (like my views on food trump DP's because *I* cook, but if he left me i couldn't expect to dictate to him how to eat anymore, kwim).  It's incredibly painful feeling the full weight of responsibility (which for some reason is also hard to feel is shared, even when it is, with a non-resident co-parent) without the full benefit of control.  You will get there mama, think about the boundaries YOU need to draw, think about your DD's feelings (i know you are already!) and draw your lines in the sand firmly but peacefully.  Good luck.

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