Heart & Mind:  Top Ten

10 WAYS TO AVOID BECOMING A DISNEYLAND DAD

By Richard A. Shulman, Ph.D.

Being a divorced father has a great deal of internalized stress associated with it. There's a strong desire to make your children like you and want to spend time with you, especially if you only get to see them a few days a month.

Studies show that what kids remember growing up is not the extravagant birthday parties or the expensive vacations. It's the ongoing consistent events that create memories and bonding experiences. 

Therefore, here are 10 ways to avoid becoming a Disneyland Dad. 

  1. Be involved in your children's life. 
    Remember to celebrate birthdays, significant events, and celebrations. Also make it a point to attend their ball games, recitals, and school functions, even if it's not your "day", because it will make your child's day.

  2. Promote good communication between you and your children. 
    Employ an open door policy and allow your children to come to you whenever they need.

  3. Be consistent. 
    Make it a point to keep to every promise. Whether it's as simple as I'll call you tomorrow at 5 or following through with rewarding them for their accomplishments.

  4. Don't be afraid to implement natural consequences for misbehavior. 
    When your child misbehaves, enforce natural consequences. Studies show that children respect and love parents who hold them accountable for their actions. Also, understand that children need a parent more then they need a friend.

  5. Spend quality time with your children. 
    Make it a point to clear off part of your busy schedule to spend one-on-one time with your children. Remember your children are coming to see you, not your toys.

  6. Send small tokens of your love and affection.
    Send little notes or cards to your children. Remind them that you are thinking about them and love them. This will also let them know that you are always there for them.
  7. Never pass on your time with your children. 
    Sometimes in today's society we get sidetracked by our busy lifestyles and are unable to see our children on their visitation days. Spending time with your children is the easiest way to tell them that they are more important than anything else.
  8. Ask your children what they want to do with you on their visit. 
    Incorporate your children's needs. Make this a mutual and respectful time together.
  9. Don't burden your children.
    Burdening your children with thoughts and discussions of hatred towards your ex-spouse or about the financial conflicts associated with the divorce will only spoil the time that you have together. Understand that your time with your children is precious and should be untainted with hatred and anger.

  10. Parent out of love not guilt.
    Being a loving parent requires consistency and holding your children accountable for their action and behaviors. Avoid decreasing consequences or adding rewards because you are feeling guilty. 

By implementing these 10 simple skills, you will notice that your time with your children will be of better quality and will improve your relationship with them more than opening your wallet.


This Article 10 Ways To Avoid Becoming A Disneyland Dad was written by Richard A. Shulman, Ph.D