Coparenting with Disneyland Dad

Riding the Rollercoaster - Co-Parenting with Disneyland Dad 1

I know I’m not the only one who feels like I’m failing in the popular parent contest.  My ex constantly takes the kids to theme parks, buys them cool toys, and in general, lines himself up for parent of the year by bribing the judges.  Do you ever feel like you’re co-parenting with Disneyland Dad?

“Disneyland Dad” is more interested in fun than responsibility. He’s all about fun for fun’s sake. He thinks he’s creating happy memories so that the children will bond more closely with him. In effect, he’s bribing the children to like him more.

And sometimes it sucks to have to be the responsible parent. To always be the one who makes sure they’re getting to bed on time. To always be the one who insists that their room is clean and their chores are done. But part of my job as their mother is to make sure that when they leave my “nest,” they’re ready for the next step. And the next step carries a lot of responsibility.

I’m not saying that there’s never any fun in my house. We have fun all the time. But it’s balanced. Some of the time we have fun and some of the time we have to be responsible. Sometimes responsibilities can be fun too – if you make them that way. Put on music when you do the vacuuming. Dance while you’re dusting. Have a race to see who can get their toys put away first. Play games to learn school concepts. Use laundry to learn about sorting. Write out a grocery list to learn to spell. Use a trip to the store to learn about math and saving. Get out of the house – go for a bike ride – exercise. Even eating broccoli can be fun if you add enough cheese.

This post originally apppeared on Live By Surprise on March 13, 2014. It has been edited.

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