The title “Disneyland dad” seems to get thrown around quite a bit these days. Too often, one angry parent will accuse the other of being a Disneyland dad when upset that he seems to be having too much fun with the children or feels that he isn’t stepping up to his parenting responsibilities. However, Texas residents should understand the true sentiment behind this disparaging title, as well as how to avoid being a Disneyland parent.

Either Mom or Dad can be a Disneyland parent, but because most noncustodial parents are fathers, dads traditionally get stuck with this moniker. What exactly is a Disneyland parent? The National Center for Fathering defines this term as one given to a parent who focuses on being the “fun” parent, usually ignoring or passing off the less enjoyable parenting duties – such as disciplining poor behavior and enforcing rules – to the other parent. Often, the accusation is that a Disneyland parent takes the kids on fun outings, such as going to Disneyland, during visitation, and avoids responsibilities.

There are many reasons a noncustodial parent may fall into the role of Disneyland parent, including the following:

  • Feeling guilty for not having as much time with the kids
  • Wanting to spite the other parent
  • Lacking the skills to effectively co-parent
  • Acting uninterested in the “less fun” aspects of parenting

It is understandable that one parent would feel frustrated and upset when feeling the other parent isn’t pulling his or her weight, regardless of how true these sentiments are. However, both parents need to realize that children benefit most when their parents are equally involved and invested in their well-being. It may be nice for a while to be seen as the “cool” parent, but ultimately, children will understand when their parents took the time to ensure they grew up feeling secure, safe, well-adjusted and loved.