Avoid the Disneyland parent label this summer
Any single parent can attest: It's a hard job to balance family and parenting with career and responsibilities. Sometimes it just might seem too tempting to forget all about rules and routines when the kids are over, and have a blast as much as possible. After all, a single parent no longer has unlimited time with the kids throughout the week, so he or she must make the most out of the custody arrangement they have.
Not only that, but working during the summer is difficult when the kids are home from school and need to spend some quality time with each parent after a divorce. Enforcing consequences for bad behavior might seem unfair when the kids are only over a few days a week.
Kids need structure, rules
The above justifications might seem reasonable; however, it's crucial that all children have consistent rules, structure, routines and consequences. This includes the children of divorced parents. It's understandable to feel guilty for not being able to spend more time with the children, but this doesn't mean that a single parent should pack as much fun into a custodial weekend as possible. In fact, this type of parenting style can be harmful, says the Huffington Post. When one parent constantly takes the kids on extravagant outings but ignores the less fun, responsible side of parenting, this is known as being a "Disneyland dad." However, this is by no means limited to fathers; mothers, too, can take this parenting style to the extreme. Being a Disneyland parent may be fun for the kids for a while, but the lack of structure and involvement in the more important aspects of kids' lives can be detrimental to their long-term development. This can include children growing up with low self-esteem and depression, and having problems in their adult relationships.
This doesn't mean parents shouldn't go on vacations with their kids, of course. But to truly build lifelong memories and develop a close bond with children, frequent small moments of quality time are usually best, says Parents magazine.
Summer quality time ideas
What can busy single parents do with kids this summer that count as quality time? PBS has the following suggestions:
- Have a backyard campout.
- Go on a walk or nature hike.
- Create a scavenger hunt.
- Get the kids involved in cooking, housework and home repair projects.
- Play in the sprinklers or a wading pool, or have a water gun fight.
Additionally, each parent should take the time to establish firm rules and routines, and set consequences for the children's behavior. When routines and traditions are established, kids feel more secure and loved.
Contacting an attorney
Creating an agreeable parenting arrangement can also be a challenge. Contact an experienced family law attorney if you're considering a divorce.