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Dealing with a ‘Disneyland’ parent

 Posted on June 11, 2020 in Child Custody

Have you ever heard the term “Disneyland dad” or “Disneyland mom?”

It’s the phrase used to describe a non-custodial parent who sweeps in on their rare visitation weekends, scoops up the kids and showers them with gifts, suspends bedtimes, loads up on pizza and other goodies and basically turns the entire weekend into a party — leaving you to be the disciplinarian who makes the kids go to bed on time, do their homework and eat their vegetables.

That gets really old really fast when you’re the custodial parent who has to deal with the emotional fallout every time the kids come back home. You might understand when grandparents act that way, but is it too much expect your co-parent to be an actual adult?

Probably. Here’s are some things you can do:

  1. Let the kids have their fun: It sounds counterintuitive, but you’re only hurting yourself and your relationship with the kids by scowling over the presents or growling over the way their other parent lets them run wild. Bite your tongue if you have to, but work on smoothly steering the kids back into their usual routine without comment on your ex’s parenting skills.
  2. Recognize that you can’t control the situation: You have no authority in your ex’s home, so don’t try to impose your own house rules on the kids when they’re there. Instead, you can tell the kids to enjoy the weekend, but remind them that things go back to “normal” when they return.
  3. Don’t let it get to you: This is easier said than done, especially with young kids who can be fooled by Disneyland parents. Try not to worry too much, however, if they seem to prefer your ex to you. That feeling won’t last. As your kids get older, they’ll see their other parent’s actions as superficial and realize that they were merely trying to buy their love.

If your ex’s antics are truly disruptive to your children’s well-being, it may be time to discuss modifications to the parenting plan. You can work to negotiate some firm rules that will keep your ex’s behavior to a tolerable level.

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