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Avoiding the “Disneyland dad” label

Parenting is a challenge under the best of circumstances. When you and your ex-spouse must divide the time you spend with your children, it can be even more difficult. At the law office of Palange, Endres & Marks, P.C., we understand the challenges divorced parents in Pennsylvania face every day.

Many fathers still get the short end of the stick, when it comes to parenting time. If this is your situation, then you may not get to spend as much time with your children as you would like. You might only get your kids on the weekends, or for just a few days a month. This might result in you having less quality time to spend with them, as well as less time to do homework, keep up on chores and be consistent with discipline and consequences. If you try to make the most of the little amount of time you have with your kids, you might have even been called a “Disneyland dad.”

The Disneyland dad (a term that is sometimes synonymous with either parent) is a name for the non-custodial parent who spends most of his time having fun with the kids during visitation, giving gifts and sometimes being lax on discipline, states the National Center for Fathering. The reasons vary: Some dads feel guilty that they do not get to see their children all the time, so they try to make up for it by cramming in as much fun as possible during visitation; some dads want to be seen as the “fun” parent; others think that by not enforcing rules, they can get back at the other parent by undermining their authority.

To keep from being unfairly placed in the “Disneyland dad” category, it is important to remember that your children need consistency and rules, as well as your involvement in their everyday lives. While you can, of course, have fun with your kids, you should also try to be involved with their homework assignments and extracurricular activities. Teach your children responsibility by assigning them chores while they are with you, and attempt to keep rules and discipline consistent with the other parent.

Being actively involved in your children’s lives and balancing fun with responsibility may help you avoid not being taken seriously as a father. Our family law page explains more about the challenges divorcing parents face.