When you got divorced, you probably promised yourself that despite your busy schedule that made it impossible for you to handle equal custody of the kids that you wouldn’t be one of those “Disneyland Dads” who swept in on the odd weekend for a great time — then turned the real parenting over to your children’s mother.
Unfortunately, it can be easier to fall into that trap than you realize. When you feel marginalized when it comes to the kids, you want every moment with them to be positive, and that’s hard to do if you’re really parenting. It can be far sweeter to just shower them with affection and material things rather than deal with the awkward, painful reality of moody, exasperating and sometimes, frustrating kids.
Here’s what you need to remind yourself — daily — until you get it ingrained:
1. Your kids need you to be their father, not their best friend
You may develop a friendship with your children as they age, but first, you have to parent them. You can’t do that if you aren’t willing to handle the hard stuff. You also won’t have much to base your friendship on unless you experience both the highs and lows of their life with them.
2. Your kids need a consistent role model
Do you want to “role model” someone that just spends money on extravagances and acts like there’s never a care in the world? Probably not. You want to keep your kids grounded so that they realize that discipline, school work and responsibility are important parts of life.
3. You don’t want to make your ex into the “bad parent”
Negotiating with your ex-spouse can be tricky enough without creating a situation where your ex feels like you are undermining everything she does with the kids on a daily basis and making her out to be the “no-fun” parent that’s always the rule maker and disciplinarian.
If you find that your visitation just isn’t enough to maintain a healthy relationship with your kids, talk over the possibility of a custody modification with your attorney.