With these dads, the weekend is all about junk food, late nights, amusement parks and rough housing. Discipline? That's for the full time parent. The burden of making sure homework is done, rooms are cleaned and balanced meals are served lies with the Mom. The custodial parent.
And its the Dad's right to provide the fun because he only has his kids two weekends a month. Right?
We all know this isn't a healthy environment to provide your kids with. We all know that children need structure to be successful. And all weekend McDonald's binges? Not cutting it.
When I met my husband the only times he had his daughter were for the purpose of celebrating the holidays and the occasional infrequent visit. He never filed for custody and they were never married so this is what he settled for. Because he was afraid of a big scene in court. Because he was afraid of the games. Because the situation was originally amicable and he got to see his daughter on a regular basis without a court order. By the time I entered the picture regular visits had turned in to 2-3 times A YEAR. Then went to one time in 2011.
So time he spent with his daughter? There was presents galore. There was junk food. There was very few rules. Her visits weren't just like Christmas- they were Christmas.
And when we went from this to two Saturdays a month it was natural for the Disneyland Dad syndrome to continue. Our sixteen hours a month were spent going to movies, the park, McDonald's, etc. And the word no? Admittedly, was seldom used.
Finally the court order allowed us a more consistent routine with his daughter. We had a week night and every other weekend. My fear? That the Disneyland Dad syndrome would reign on.
Thankfully my husband wants the very best for his daughter. And early on he was able to see that she needed us to provide structure for her while she is in our care. That means homework and reading must happen at our house. Picking up after yourself is the expectation. Fast food and restaurants are reserved for special occasions (except for Sonic Happy Hour. That's our little secret. Shhh...). He talks to her about her grades, disciplines her when she is disrespectful and volunteers at her school.
And yet things are different than they would be if she were in our household on a regular basis. How could they not be? Your traditional family might eat out twice a month. If we do it one time each weekend we have her- is that wrong? Your traditional family has the entire month of December to celebrate Christmas. We have two weekends, a few weeknights (which are spent doing homework, reading and having dinner) and one day. Naturally this means the two weekends we have are full of parties, lights, festivals, visits to Santa and on and on.
And on Tuesdays? When she has a temper tantrum over having to read? Yes, we correct her behavior. But when her mom is coming in two hours and we won't see her until the following Tuesday? The conversation is tempered with that in mind.
I know her Mom thinks we are the worst. She hears that we went somewhere or we bought her something or we don't have a certain rule in our house and the judgement is passed. My husband is the Disneyland Dad. He is spoiling her to receive her love and affection. He is overcompensating. He is trying too hard. But still she repeatedly refuses to allow additional parenting time. My husband sends requests to add time. He asks for extra days, extra hours even, during school breaks. He reminds her that she agreed they would work together to add more time at our house. Just to be rejected. To be told their daughter isn't ready for more time. To be told that she will be at her step grandparent's home during the day even though my husband is home and would love to spend time with her.
How is this attitude fair? Not to be allowed additional time to parent and develop routine but to be judged for trying to make the best of the limited time he does have?
Stepmoms- how do you help your husband to find the balance between enjoying your children and creating structure for them? Biomoms- do you find that your kids come home from their dad's house "spoiled"?
I'd love to hear any and all opinions on this topic.