Divorce Attorney Scott J. Stadler

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    • 27 APR 17

    Avoiding the Disneyland Dad/Mom Trap

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    Avoiding the Disneyland Dad/Mom TrapThe divorce process can take its toll on a person mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Beyond its effects on an individual, it can quickly change the dynamics of a relationship between parents and their children. Typically, a married couple has relatively unfettered access to their children and is able to spend large amounts of time with them. However, when divorce enters the picture this can quickly change. Regular time spent with your children can turn into a couple of weekends and a few nights here and there with some extended time throughout the year. Largely uneven or unfair custody arrangements can ultimately give rise to circumstances in which a Disneyland Dad or Mom appears, and even the most fair custody arrangements can create these circumstances. Avoiding the Disneyland parenting trap can take some effort, but it is possible. It is even possible to address the issue once it arises.

    What is a Disneyland Parent?

    As would be expected, parents want to make the most of newly limited time with their children and will often use that time to compensate for the time they are not able to spend with their children on a regular basis. Before, you may have used weekends for movies and laser tag. However, those weekends can quickly turn into costly, extravagant experiences. Vacations where you would normally go to the community pool with your children suddenly turn into European vacations or time spent on Mexican beaches. While there is certainly nothing wrong with providing wonderful experiences for you children, a problem arises when you begin to feel obligated to do so, especially when children come to expect these things. Unfortunately, while you may make memories together with your children doing these things, these activities may not amount to the kind of quality time you really want to and should be spending with your kids. Consistently engaging in these types of activities with your children as opposed to just spending quality time with them is often referred to as “Disneyland parenting.”

    How Can Disneyland Parenting be Avoided?

    If you are going through the divorce process or have recently found yourself divorced with children and a Florida custody arrangement in place, there are some things you can do to avoid becoming a Disneyland Dad or Mom. The following tips can help you avoid falling into the trap.

    Take Initiative

    While seeing your child after a divorce may be more difficult and may not happen as often as you would like, taking the initiative to remain an active part of their life is important. You may not be responsible for taking them to ballet class every week anymore, but you can still make sure to check up on their progress and attend recitals or other related activities. The same is true for things like your child’s performance in school. You do not have to wait for a report card to reach out to teachers or address an issue you are concerned about.

    Communicate Effectively

    Communication is key in almost any relationship. This is especially true with your relationship with your children. You may not be able to spend as much time with your kids as you would like to, but you can still communicate with them on a regular basis. Make sure to call them regularly, or reach out to them through texts or email. Your conversations can be serious or lighthearted, as long as you are making sure to continue having conversations.

    Be Thorough and Consistent

    If you say you will do something, make sure you do it. If you promise to pick your child up from school or practice at a certain time, make sure you are there on time. It is extremely important to make sure that you follow through on promises completely, and equally important that you do not make promises you cannot keep. Your child may want to go to Paris for their birthday, but that does not mean you have to agree to take them. Do whatever is necessary to keep plans with your kids and avoid canceling on them.

    Additionally, do not feel the need to alter your personality or behavior to appease your children. If certain actions were unacceptable to you before, then there is nothing wrong with them being unacceptable now. Do not feel the need to allow your children to get away with behavior they otherwise would not have gotten away with. It is likely your children will try to test the limits of a new type of relationship with you, but you are still their parent and need to hold them accountable.

    Focus on Quality Time

    Most people have a busy lifestyle. This is especially true for parents trying to navigate relationships with their children after divorce while juggling other responsibilities, including work and new relationships. However, when you have the chance to spend time with your kids you should make sure to do so. Do not let the television babysit them while you finish up an article you have been reading or talk to a prospective partner. Focus your time and energy on your children when you are with them.

    You do not need to go to the best restaurants and on long weekends to the city every time you see your kids. Small things can have an equally important impact. Find out what your kids want to do, and try to do those things, within reason. If you are sending your child off to school after their weekend with you, something as small as a note in their backpack can help them remember how enjoyable their time with you really was.

    Do Not be Guided by Guilt

    Guilt can be a powerful catalyst, whether you have developed it on your own or your kids have learned to use it against you. Whatever the case may be, do not let guilt be your guide when you are divorced and parenting. Similar to staying consistent, do not relax the rules in your household. You may not want to send your kids to their room for poor behavior or to bed at their normal bedtime, but you still need to do so. Doing otherwise can make parenting harder for you in the long run as well as more difficult for your former spouse, and that can strain your relationship with everyone.

    Legal Assistance with Custody and Divorce

    If you are thinking about divorce or if you have already made the difficult decision to pursue divorce, working with an experienced family law attorney that focuses their practice on divorce is an important step in the process. This is also true for custody-related issues, including developing or modifying a custody arrangement. If you have questions about how divorce might impact you and your children or what to expect when it comes to Florida divorce, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation where you can find out more information.