You know a "Disneyland" parent when you're dealing with one. The parent that buys the kids' affections, that takes them on trips, buys them the expensive toys…. the "fun" parent. When you are the opposite parent, the one that makes the kids do their homework, keep a curfew and makes them do household chores, your kids may think of you as the "ogre."
The "Disneyland" parent may feel guilty for not being part of your children's lives everyday. He or she may also feel the only way the kids will want to visit is if they have a lot of fun, toys and no responsibilities to look forward to.
A "Disneyland" parent can make children disrespectful to the primary parent. If you speak up against the other parent and how things are "just not like that in this house," children may develop more resentment toward you, even if you are doing the best you can and understand that children need limits and discipline.
So what can you do?
- Take control of your feelings. You may be feeling resentful and a little anxious at everything your ex- can provide your kids, but children will pick up on that relatively quickly. When your kids return from a visit with your ex-, give them 30 minutes of space. Don't pump them for information on what they did or ask them to immediately do chores. They'll come to think of your home as a place to work where there's little fun.
- Have rules and clearly defined expectations. What happens in your house, happens under your rules. Be firm, and stick to your guns, and structure.
- Create a reward system. It doesn’t have to be all work and no play. A reward does not have to be monetary. More often than not, kids want your attention. Put a puzzle together, play a game. Or, give them free time on the computer -- whatever kids love to do is a treat to them.
- Try to talk to your ex- about the "Disneyland" aspect of the children's time with him or her. Sometimes the other parent simply does not know how to deal with feelings of guilt and they only know that throwing money after the problem seems to work.
Dealing with a "fun" parent when you are the disciplinarian is a tough situation in parenting after divorce, but staying calm, setting firm limits and discussing your expectations with your ex can help. Barring that, know that in most cases, kids eventually catch on to the game and appreciate the parent that set down the rules.
Getting Legal Help
The experienced Sacramento Family Law Attorneys at Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP can help you navigate your divorce and child custody issues with respect and compassion. Contact Bartholomew & Wasznicky LLP today for knowledgeable and respectful representation. Call us at (916) 455-5200 or email us at info@DivorceWithRespect.com.