When you got divorced, the court split custody up between you and your ex. The kids did not get to choose where they would live, but they did get to make their opinions known. That's when you found out that they didn't necessarily want to live with you.
After that, you decided that your number one goal was to make sure you became their favorite parent. To do it, you simply chose to buy their love and affection.
You took them on expensive vacations. You bought them the newest entertainment systems. On Christmas morning, you made sure they had more presents than they knew what to do with. If they went to the mall with you and asked for something, you always bought it for them. You even got them cars when they turned 16.
Is it smart?
Back up for a second. Maybe you're just getting divorced now, and you're trying to think about how you can cement your place in the kids' lives. The example above hasn't happened yet, but you're well on your way. Is it wise?
Most experts agree that it's not. It creates all sorts of emotional, financial and relational problems.
For instance, one man started accumulating mass amounts of credit card debt because he wanted to buy everything for his kids. They, in turn, started to expect him to do it. This changed their relationship, making it stressful and pressuring him into poor financial choices. He felt like he had to keep it up so they wouldn't resent him, even when he couldn't afford it.
On top of that, his ex was angry with him because his behavior definitely made the kids resent her. She did not take the same approach and routinely told the children she did not want to buy them what they asked for. Spoiled by their father, they got angry with her.
This isn't good on any level. The goal for life after divorce should be raising the kids as well as possible. No parent needs to become the favorite. You may not be married, but you both need to work together to teach the children about things like financial responsibility, wise choices, acceptable spending habits and relationships that do not focus on material possessions. You cannot do that when you undermine all of those teachings every time you go to the store.
A custody plan
So, when planning out how you want to live your life and what your custody plan should look like, forget about playing favorites. Put your own differences aside, sit down with your ex and figure out how you can really draft a custody plan and a parental agreement that prioritizes the kids themselves.