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Divorced Mom Competes with Disney Dad?

Joan Jerkovich - August 1, 2014 7:32 am

My ex is all about play and fun times when my son goes for weekend visitation. He takes him to fun museums, water parks and zoos. Weekends with him are always like the fun field trip with a stop at the toy store. He doesn’t set any schedules and there is no discipline. My son gets pretty much whatever he wants when they’re together. This makes me so angry because as the only parent who disciplines, I always get to be the bad guy.

It also makes me angry because I would like to do some of the same fun things, but I don’t have the money for it. When I have to buy the clothes and items for school and activities, it leaves little for the fun outings that cost money. I feel like I get all the work and my ex gets all the fun. How can I compete with my ex who is the Disney Dad?

Thanks dear mother for your question, but since this is something I have no experience with I went to the Internet chat rooms to hear from the moms like you who are in the trenches. Here’s some of what I learned from the single moms out there who have been in a similar situation, but read on for what the older children had to say about growing up with a Disney Dad. Their comments may be the most helpful to you. Here’s what I found on the Internet.

The usual scenario is just as you described. The children go visit their Dad and there are no rules and no discipline. Many of the mothers described how hard it was to “retrain” the kids after their time spent at Disney Dad’s house where they could always do whatever they want. The laxity of rules surprised even me! What? Disney Dad doesn’t even make them brush their teeth or take a shower?? I’m sure some of you moms who are reading this are familiar with getting the kids home and having to get them cleaned up! That was a surprise to me. Are these Dads just lazy?? That’s basic parenting!

Oh, right, these Dads don’t really do any parenting. They do cruise director, camp counselor type parenting. They’re only in charge of the entertainment for the day. Add to that, they spoil the kids by buying them everything they ever wanted. This becomes a real problem because then the kids think it would be more fun to go live with Dad, and the Moms have that to deal with as well.

Here’s some of what the Moms said worked for them. Several said it helped to talk to their kids about the dynamics of a Disney Dad. Explaining the different parenting styles in a calm, non-accusatory way helped. The kids, even the 7 and 8 year olds, seemed to understand how one parent had to be the more responsible one.

Another shocking thing I repeatedly read was from the mothers who posted that when they “called their bluff” and gave the OK for the kids to go live with Disney Dad…guess what!!…Disney Dad didn’t come through! No way did he want the kids living with him full-time when there were going to be school nights with homework to supervise, getting them to school and activities on time, and some real parenting responsibilities! Those shares were really telling, but also somewhat sad.

And, most telling of all, the older kids themselves posted that in time they came to understand and appreciate what their moms did for them by being the more responsible parent. Read that again, dear mothers, because that’s the icing on the cake.

Hang in there. You know you’re doing the right things by your kids, and some day they will mature enough to recognize and love you for being the mom who taught them discipline, structure and responsibility.

Joan Jerkovich, BCC Board Certified Life Coach

Joan Jerkovich, BCC
Board Certified Life Coach

 
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