In co-parenting, I've noticed there are 4 different categories to clothes:
- The kid's clothes are the kid's clothes regardless of which parent (or parent's family members) bought them. They can be at either house.
- The clothes at my house belong at my house. The clothes at your house belong at your house.
- One parent buys clothes, sends the kids in them, but never gets them back.
- The clothes the other parent buys never fit and are always dirty.
The clothing war is one that comes up all the time in co-parenting groups. You buy them, but never see them back. For special events, should the cost of the clothing be split between the parents? What about extra-curricular activities? Who buys the gym shoes for school? I won't weigh in on the debate about clothes, but I will give you a few items to think about if you find yourself caught up in it.
First, when your kids move off to college or their jobs, will it matter who bought their clothes during adolescence? You are all grown now. Whether you came from a home where your parents were divorced or not, do you remember who purchased your clothes as a child? Do you even remember more than a few outfits from your childhood? This is similar to the 10-10-10 rule. Will it matter in 10 days? 10 months? 10 years? This is a personal issue, so my answer may not match yours, but it's something to think about.
Second, do your kids have enough to wear? Again, this is a personal choice. We'll each come up with a different number when it comes to what kids need. No one is right or wrong, but with that said - is the goal to ensure they're dressed everyday in clean, appropriate clothing? If that is genuinely the goal, then consider your kid's blessed. Many do not have their clothing needs met.
Next, think about why who purchases the clothing matters. There are situations where parent's want to be a part of the clothing purchases: first communions, dances, graduations, etc., but outside of those, does it matter who purchases the clothes? If it does, why does it matter? If the reason it matters has to do with fit - consider empowering your children (if they're old enough) to learn what fits and what doesn't. It's a skill they'll need anyway. If it matters because you feel like you may be missing out or because it may make you feel insecure (and believe me, I've been there so this is said without judgement), then it's an issue you have to look into - not your kids.
Finally and most importantly, what do your kids have to say about it? Do your kids have to pack 2 bags on transition day? One bag full of items to bring back to Mom and Dad's and one filled with their school supplies? Do they enjoy that? Have you asked them? If they hate taking clothes back and forth to appease their parent's who may have purchased them, isn't that enough to make a change? Generally speaking, kids don't care where clothes originated, they just want to wear the items that make them feel good regardless of where it came from.
Somehow the clothing war has become a huge area of contention in co-parenting. If your child is going to school dirty in clothes that don't fit, it's a discussion to have with both your kids (for hygiene purposes) and your co-parent, but if they're going to school dressed in clothes that fit and are clean, does it matter where it came from? Only you can answer that, but hopefully this gives you some insight as to what to think about.