Kids Need a Parent, Not a Playmate by Don Sinkov{2:54 minutes to read} So what is a “Disney Dad,” you ask? A Disney Dad, in short, is a dad who spends his visitation time entertaining his child like a friend with no rules or boundaries. Visitation turns into a free-for-all party atmosphere. This may be because the father feels he has very little time with the child, so he wants the child’s memory of that time with dad to be a fun one. I get that, but that’s really not what a parent’s role is, is it?

Here is what a client told me. When the child is with mom, there are strict rules. The child can’t have any sugar or keep late hours. The child is on a regular schedule, does her homework at a certain time, and eats meals together with her mother at the dining room table. Positive behaviors are encouraged, like being polite and following the rules.

The client said that this works well the weeks the child is with her, but when the child comes back from a weekend with dad, she’s out of control. She’s on a sugar high because dad gives her ice cream and lots of sugary treats. She stays up until 10, 11, 12 o’clock and comes back exhausted. It takes the mother days to get the child back on schedule. Now the mom dreads when the father spends every other weekend with the child.

I’m gotten so many of these calls. You know what your responsibility as a parent is. Both you and your ex first need to make the rules together, then both of you follow them. Even if you stick to a schedule, you can still have fun, go out and party sometimes, but it’s not all about that. It’s also about sharing in school projects and homework, coming to the school meetings and going to the school plays. That’s a very, very important part of parenting. Just look at how happy the child is when you’re at a soccer game or school event.

Parenting, or as we used to say, being a parent, is not just about buying the child toys and ice cream and taking the child to amusement parks. Don’t be a Disney Dad, be a parent.

About Don Sinkov

Don Sinkov Your Divorce Mediator Westchester County, NY Putnam County, NY Phone: (914) 588-6258 eMail: