The ‘Disneyland’ Parent Dilemma

The ‘Disneyland’ Parent Dilemma

By Steven B. Chroman, Attorney at Law

You know the story… the kids come back from a weekend with the ex; they show off the latest toy, brag about how late they stayed up and the junk food they were allowed to eat for breakfast. It can be infuriating to deal with an ex who gets the short parenting shift and then tries to buy the kids’ affection on the weekends. We are familiar with the scenarios and can offer some advice.

The scenario: Every time the ex has the kids, they shower the kids with extravagant gifts – the big-ticket items you tend to save for the holidays. There’s no way you can compete. Your financial situation is lopsided in favor of your ex.
How to deal: The next time the kids come home with a new Nintendo Wii U or iPad, remind yourself that love can’t be bought. Electronics (and concert tickets and designer clothes) offer quick, temporary ‘love’. The next time your child wakes from a nightmare, skins their knee or needs help with a book report, it won’t be the latest Apple product they run to. It won’t even be the person who gave it to them; it’ll be you.
The scenario: While you’re handling the daily grind of parenting, your uninvolved ex swoops in and whisks the kids to a big game. “Ah,” you think, “if only they could show up for the occasional parent-teacher conference or soccer meet.”

How to deal: Remember, as hard as it is for you to raise the kids without your ex’s help, their absence is even harder on the kids. Be the bigger person and let them enjoy their time.  The next time your ex tries to compensate for poor parenting with a splashy gesture let your kids, enjoy whatever time and attention come their way, and remember, you’ll be the one actually cheering from the bleachers at their little league game and they will remember that even more.

The scenario: When the kids are at your ex’s house, it’s fast food every night, no restrictions on cell phone use and 1 a.m. “lights outs.” You get peeved every time they brag about what they get away with over the weekend.
How to deal: Unfortunately, not everything in life is in your control – and that includes your ex’s house rules. You first need to accept that what happens on the other parent’s time is just that: the other parent’s time. Ultimately, you only have control over your relationship with the children and your own parenting time. Put your energy and focus into being the best parent you can possibly be.

The scenario: You’ve worked hard to establish a daily family rhythm, from bedtime rituals to limits on screen time. When the kids return from the Land of Anything Goes (aka your ex’s house), you feel like you need to compensate by doubling down on your house rule.
How to deal: Resist the urge to play bad cop. Comments like ‘Your (ex) had you for 24 hours and you spent 20 of them online. No computer this week!’ only cast you in the role of enforcer and erode your relationship with the kids.

The scenario: You can’t help it: Knowing that the kids clearly favor your ex gets to you.
How to deal: Like the story “The Tortoise and the Hare,” a steady effort wins the (parenting) race. The Disneyland mom/dad persona will not stand the test of time. While it may take a while for children to realize this, they will have more respect in the long run for the healthy parent who was stable, consistent and loving. Children thrive with consistency and structure. They’ll look back with admiration at the parent who was there during the hours of homework, late-night fevers and parent-teacher conferences.
For more information on divorce, coaching, custody and support please call for your complimentary consultation at 661-255-1800 or visit us at  Mr. Chroman is an award-winning attorney with over 18 years of experience and local service.

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