You may acknowledge that your ex’s job as the custodial parent is difficult, but it can also be challenging to be the non-custodial parent in California. Not only do you pay child support, but you have less time than you would want to spend with your children, as well as less input when it comes to parenting decisions. This may lead to feelings of resentment and other negative emotions. It can be even more infuriating if you are accused of being a “Disneyland parent” by your ex or others.
This term was originally called “Disneyland dad,” but it can apply to either gender, and is a derogatory label on parents who have less time with their children. A Disneyland parent is called thus because they are accused of taking the kids on fun trips, showering them with gifts and otherwise being the “fun” parent without having any of the responsibility. Your reasons for having fun with the kids can vary. Like many non-custodial parents, you might feel guilty your kids don’t see you as much. You might miss them when they are away and try to pack as much fun during your visit as possible. If you feel left out and resentful, you might even feel some satisfaction in your kids thinking you are the fun one.
These feelings are understandable, but as the National Center for Fathering explains, it is also important for non-custodial parents to enforce rules and structure during visitation times. You do not have to adhere to your ex’s rules – children need structure, and they will adept to reasonable rules at your home even if they are different from the other parent’s. Your children will also know when you genuinely care and when your efforts are shallow. Involving them in chores, taking an active interest in their homework assignments and extracurricular activities and participating in meaningful activities will strengthen your relationship with your children.
You can, of course, build fun memories with your children as well, and this includes taking them to Disneyland.