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The danger in becoming a Disneyland Dad

Many fathers in Indianapolis may feel picked on during divorce proceedings. That may be due to the perception that the processes generally favors mothers. According to the law, no preference is supposed to be given during divorce proceedings (particularly when coming up with a custody arrangement) on the basis of sex. Yet statistics show that this standard may appear to be more of an ideal than an actual practice. Indeed, information shared by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that as of 2013, only 17.5 percent of custodial parents were fathers. 

The perception of bias when determining custody may prompt some fathers to become bitter towards their ex-spouses. That bitterness may then lead them to try to undermine their ex-wives' authority with their children by not enforcing any rules with their kids while the children in their custody. Parents who do this are often called "Disneyland Dads," in that the kids come to expect that time with them will be filled only with excitement and diversion rather than guidance and discipline.

On top of trying to upstage mom, Disneyland Dads may also be motivated to try and buy their kids' love and affection. They may believe that spoiling them makes up for the lack of actual time they have with them. The trouble with the Disneyland Dad philosophy is that rather than creating a perception of dad being the better parent, it actually can lessen the role he has in his kids' lives. Per the Good Men Project, kids are recognized as needing the following from their parents: 

  • Examples of strong life skills
  • Counseling to help develop coping strategies 
  • Consistency in expectations and discipline

Those that experience consistent overindulgence typically only view the parent to does so as a friend, rather than an authority figure that should be respected. 

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Robert Schembs
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Indianapolis, IN 46204

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