My Ex Has Now Become a Disneyland Parent & I Feel Like the Bad Guy!

Often in a divorce or child custody situation, one parent compensates for feelings of guilt by being overly generous with the children.  Sometimes it is simply a matter of the parent trying to "buy the children's love."  This is usually accompanied by a lack of discipline at that parent's house in an effort to become the favored parent or to make the time with the children "special."

When you are the custodial parent, it can be extremely frustrating.  James Lehman, MSW at the Empowering Parents has an excellent article on this situation here.  The thrust of Mr. Lehman's article is that, as the custodial parent, you should shift your focus away from the other parent's behavior.  Do not make the shift so jolting on the children.  When they return from the Disneyland parent's house, give the children half an hour or so to unwind, unpack,  maybe watch a little TV or get a snack rather than immediately ordering them to start cleaning up their room.  Do you absolute best to be an outstanding parent by keeping a routine for the children including bedtime, family meals, chores and homework.  Whenever possible, encourage family activities as well as individual time with each child.  Have a game night (there is a reason the families on the boxes of those board games always look so happy).

If you still have the relationship where you can, you should try to talk with the other parent about how their actions are affecting the children.  Sometimes a person who has never been the primary caregiver is completely lost as to how to handle situations when the children come over for the weekend.  They compensate by spending a lot of money.  This parent may not even realize there is a problem.  The more the two of you can do to present a stable united front to the children the better it will be for the children.

Stability and consistency help ease a child's feelings of anxiety and loss over the breakup of his/her parents.  It is not easy to be the strong one and you may often feel like "the bad guy," but you have to think about the long-term good of your child.  If you have more questions, contact the Alford Law Office.

Photo courtesy of Andy Castro

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