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3 signs your ex is trying to be “the fun parent”

On Behalf of | May 10, 2024 | Child Custody |

One common form of co-parenting competition is when one parent does everything they can to be the fun parent. The fun parent – also called the “Disneyland parent” – avoids discipline and aims to be more like a cool friend than a parent. They try to win their children’s favor, often because of their own feelings of guilt. However, how do you know if your ex-spouse is acting like this?

1. Everything they do with the kids involves money

Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending money to have a fun day out with your family. The issue arises when it goes to the extreme, or when that is all your ex-spouse does. Some signs of this may include constantly:

  • Buying your children the newest gadgets or expensive toys
  • Taking the kids on trips
  • Packing their visitation or parenting time with events

Their spending usually will not involve meeting your children’s needs, but instead focus on their wants, and trying to impress the children.

2. Your children start acting differently

Even if your ex-spouse’s behavior is not to the level of parental alienation, their efforts to gain your children’s favor may still influence how your children behave. For example, you may see:

  • Younger children exhibiting signs of being spoiled
  • Children of all ages vocalizing that they “like the other parent better”
  • Children disregarding or disrespecting you and your rules

Pay close attention to your children’s behavior. These signs might start appearing slowly, and catching them early can help you manage the issue sooner.

3. Constant comparison

“I never have to wash the dishes at Dad’s house.” “Mom lets me stay up late.”

Hearing phrases like this during your parenting time is also a common sign that your ex-spouse is doing their best to win the children’s favor. It may indicate they are not enforcing any rules or discipline that provide children with the routine that can help them thrive.

It can be stressful to hear your children say such things. After all, no parent wants to be seen as “the bad guy,” even if they are not “the fun parent.”  However, it is important to take a step back and not react emotionally to these statements.

You made a parenting plan in your custody arrangement for a reason, and you can enforce the terms you agreed upon. It may help to have an open conversation with your ex-spouse about the situation, but you can always involve a North Carolina legal professional if communication does not work to resolve the issues you face in your co-parenting journey.