If you have ever heard of the term “Disneyland dad,” you are not alone. This is a disparaging moniker that is given to parents of either gender to imply that the parent’s only involvement with the children is to provide fun, entertainment and gifts. While building memories with the children is usually a good thing for California parents, at the Ruben Law Firm, we understand that it can be insulting and hurtful for good parents to be called Disneyland parents.
According to the National Center for Fathering, many noncustodial dads – as well as some moms – who have limited time with their children want to ensure their kids have a great time during visitation. Often, a noncustodial parent will try to make up for lost time by taking their children on trips or showering them with toys and treats. How do you draw the line between being a fun and positive influence on your kids’ lives and being a Disneyland parent?
You may begin by remembering that children need structure in their lives, as well as parents who are involved and interested in their well-being – not just the fun aspects of parenthood. While your children are visiting, you should enforce a routine, household rules and expectations for their behavior, as well as consequences for misbehaving. Get involved in their schoolwork and extracurricular activities. Of course, if you want to take your kids to the movies, buy them presents or go on a trip to Disneyland, these activities are fine as long as you balance them with responsible parenting and quality time. In the end, your children will best remember you being there for them and caring about their needs.
Our page on parenting plans explains more about joint parenting with your ex-spouse.