If you and your spouse have joint custody, you may recognize the “Disneyland Dad” even if you’ve never heard this slang term before. Essentially, it means a father who lets his children have a lot of fun and freedom when they’re with him.
If that sounds fine — why shouldn’t a parent make his children’s lives fun? — then you have to consider how it actually can make life harder for the other parent.
For example, one woman with three kids had to work two different jobs just to keep food on the table. She had custody of the children most of the time, but her ex took them on every other weekend and one night a week.
Her ex was, according to her, a Disneyland Dad. He did not force the children to do any of the homework they had on Wednesdays. He let them eat candy and pizza. He allowed them to stay up late, watching movies and playing video games. Basically, he just kicked back and had a good time, rather than enforcing any rules.
It worked fine for him, but the problems for the mother continued to mount. Her kids were disappointed to come back to her house, where they had more rules and less fun. They were disrespectful because of it. They resented her and would complain when she was strict because Dad was so much fun. They would fight and cry and life got a lot more stressful.
To ensure that both parents do their part, it’s wise to look into all agreements that can be worked into a parenting plan in Maryland.
Source: Empowering Parents, “The Disneyland Daddy,” James Lehman, accessed Nov. 19, 2015