So agree to present a unified front whenever possible. If you disagree with the way your spouse handles a particular financial situation with your child, keep your mouth shut at that moment. Bring it up later, when you're alone. "When the fight is about the child, keep the disagreements private," says Jayne Pearl, author of Kids and Money. "Then find some rules that you can both stand behind."

Try to find some financial common ground before the next incident arises, suggests Adriane Berg, editor of the financial newsletter Wealth Builder. "If you start the conversation by articulating your financial goals honestly, you can probably come up with a strategy to achieve what you both want," she says.

An Ex Factor
In an ideal world, you'd be able to have a civil conversation with your ex-spouse about your kids and money, since you both have your children's best interests at heart. Then again, in an ideal world, you wouldn't have gotten divorced in the first place. "If the two of you fought about money while you were married and fought about money while you were splitting up," says Pearl, "you can't expect to miraculously not fight about money now."

Sure, you should make every effort to keep your discussions about money civil. Failing that, you must pledge never to put your child in the middle of your money arguments. If your ex has fallen behind on his support payments, for instance, don't have your son ask for the check; make that phone call yourself, privately. If your ex refuses to help pay for an item that wasn't spelled out in your separation agreement --summer camp, music lessons, a computer --don't blame Daddy in front of your child; keep your comments to yourself and either find a way to foot the bill yourself or resign yourself to your child's forgoing the item for now.

You'll probably also just have to suck it up when it comes to the way your ex spends money when your child is in his care. You may be concerned that your child is being spoiled by a Disneyland Dad, or get fed up with hearing, "Daddy lets me have..." when you turn down a request. Rather than starting a war with your ex, focus on making the financial rules in your own household as clear and consistent as possible. Just say matter-of-factly, "That's fine if that's the rule in Daddy's house, but here we follow Mommy's rules."

You might fret about there being two standards, but kids can handle the differences as long as each parent is clear about the rules in his or her home. "It's a lot easier for children to understand 'two houses, two rules' than it is for them to sort out different rules under the same roof," says Berg.

And, says Pearl, "have faith that as long as you make your expectations clear, and provide a good role model yourself, you'll inevitably have a positive impact on how your child manages money."

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