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”How to Avoid Overcompensating?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I divorced 5 months ago. We have a 6-year-old and whenever he sees our daughter, he showers her with gifts, as if he’s apologizing for the break-up. Should I be concerned about this?

Guilt-Ridden Parenting

Dr. Gelb Says . . .

Dear Parenting:

It is not uncommon for parents to indulge their children with gifts, and to even be lenient with discipline, as a way to make up for what they see as deficits (e.g., divorce), in their child’s life.

It’s not fair to children to overcompensate and spoil them in this way. The children are likely to begin to expect extra favors, and to get their way, they may try to manipulate both parents by using one against the other.

It is not necessarily the child’s pain that their parents are trying to ease. Rather, the parent

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