Do you ever feel as if your ex is acting like the proverbial grand marshal of the parade at Disney World, fiercely entertaining and wooing your kids, while you are the one who is left pushing the stroller and carrying the diaper bag?
If this sounds familiar, you might be dealing with a “Disney Dad”! Disney Dad is defined as the “fun parent” or the person who does not worry about the day-to-day grind.
How to Cope When Your Ex Is The Fun One
A Definite Lack of Fairy Dust
It may appear your ex has set up shop in The Happiest Place on Earth and turned you into the villain, but think about it this way: He feels terrible about the fact he is not home when the kids go to bed each night and is incredibly focused on making up for that in any way he can. Now, realize that some of these feelings may be intensified and heightened if he is the one who was responsible for your split or who initiated the divorce.
I can guarantee that while a forty-eight-hour, all-inclusive trip to the Magic Kingdom is a lot of fun in the heat of the moment, when they are tired and done at the end of the day, they just want to fall asleep on Mommy.
How to Avoid Feeling like the Runner-Up
This new dynamic in your life can be hard—and it can feel bad. I am quite sure you have thought, “Well, I could be ‘Fun Mommy’ if I had to parent only every other weekend, did not have to worry about homework getting done, and did not have to think about a million other responsibilities day in and day out.” However, your life right now requires you to care about the minutiae—“the stuff that is not fun.”
I encourage you to think about your role in your children’s lives and what that means to them. Remind yourself that love cannot be bought and that children understand when a parent is there to support them, nurture them, and comfort them. Learn how to cope better by creating a barrier and not worrying about what happens when your child is on Disney Dad’s time. This might go against your most basic instincts as a parent, but for your sanity, I encourage you to master this.
Yes, Disney World is a very fun place to visit, but at the end of the day, a child craves stability and consistency. As your children grow, they will develop an appreciation for the parent who got it done, day in and day out.
They will admire the parent who took time out of her day to get them to soccer practices and ballet rehearsal; they will appreciate that Mom helped them with their homework and made them brush their teeth before bed. Take comfort in the thought that while a weekend vacation might be nice, there is no place like home.