Do you want everything to be perfect and your child(ren) happy at all times?
Do you try to make wonderful plans, over the top, AMAZING activities each time they come over?
Do you ignore your spouse and other family members during the visit?
If you answered yes to at least two of these questions…then you’re a Disney Dad!
Is this a bad thing? Well – yes and no. It’s great that you love your kids – no problem with that. It’s wonderful that you want to make your kids happy – that’s O.K. too. But is it realistic that you’ll keep them happy ALL the time? Nope.
You are worrying yourself into an impossible situation. You can’t please your child(ren) all the time. If you really want to do this, I recommend divorcing your current spouse, giving up your job, your blended family, friends, hobbies, and possibly sleep too – but I need to warn you- it won’t be enough. Kids sense this struggle, and they will whine and whine, scream for MORE, attempting to get you to “raise the bar” every weekend. Will it ever satisfy them? Of course not- but your kids don’t know this.
What Do Children Really Need?
Children need love, belonging and recognition. They want to know that you love them and they are an important part of your life. How do you show them? By including them in your life.
Take them on your errands. Eat meals with your blended family, and involve them in family activities. It’s O.K. to have some one-on-one time over the weekend, but that shouldn’t be your main focus. Your child(ren) needs to see that they are a part of your family and part of your life. Those of you who have remarried and have step kids living with you – it’s important to show your biological children that they “fit” in this family, and you want them to be a part of it.
Who’s in Charge?
Right now, it’s your child(ren.) They really want structure and leadership from you. It’s time to be their parent and not their friend. They have friends, but they need to see some stability, structure and leadership from you.
It’s not time to eliminate discipline or instruction from you. Your child wants to please you and have you proud of him/her. By discussing your expectations with them, you are guiding them to be more responsible and continue becoming the best person they can be.
How Much Effect Can I Have, 26 Weekends a Year and a Couple of Holidays?
You’d be surprised how much effect a non-custodial father can have on his child(ren.) The role of a father in a child’s life is crucial. Your visits with them are great, but you can also maintain your relationship with phone calls, texts and even communicating with them on Facebook. Children need their father – a male role model in their lives. Don’t minimize the effect you can have on your child(ren.) When your child(ren) visits, show them a normal family, and a normal marriage – not a time where one person overshadows everyone else’s needs because that’s not normal or healthy.
As you are reading this article, some of you are saying, “Well, a couple of those points sound familiar, but I’m not as bad as all that.” Just a hint: if a couple of these paragraphs apply, then you’re a Disney dad. As my husband says, “Walks like a duck, sounds like a duck…..it’s a duck” In other words, don’t deny it – it’s time for change.
Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful, and her book, Blended Family Advice, has been touted as the ultimate must-read for couples contemplating or undergoing such change.