Are you a Disney Dad?
The role of the divorced father has evolved over the last 20 years. In most modern divorces, both parents share in the responsibilities of parenting the children they share, if not equally then nearly so. Florida modified the language of its divorce-related statutes to reflect the change in philosophy — from custody to time-sharing.
The new role of the single father
The traditional model of single fatherhood involves writing a child support check and visiting on alternate weekends and holidays. The term “Disney Dad” emerged from the pattern many single fathers once practiced of only parenting when it was fun. Today’s single father has far more opportunities to parent their children in a more meaningful way. If you are a “Disney Dad” and want to deepen your relationship with your children, here are some guidelines to help you do just that:
- Stay physically close: The best way to stay involved with your kids on a day-to-day basis is to live near them. Many children with divorced parents split the week evenly between homes or move between homes as they wish.
- Stay in the social loop: Make every effort to know your kids’ friends and invite them to join you on outings. This increases the incentive for your child to spend time at your home and takes a bit of the pressure off the parent-child dynamic.
- Do the tough stuff: There is no need to completely eliminate ice cream, parks or beach time, but it is essential that fathers also participate in homework, school conferences, social struggles and emotional issues that affect a child’s inner world.
- Learn how to ask: Most children answer any question with a simple yes or no if those are offered as choices. To elicit more information from your child, ask open-ended questions. For example, instead of “Did you have a good day at school?” Try, “Tell me three things you enjoyed at school today.”
- Communicate with your ex: Share as much and as often as possible regarding your child’s welfare. The amount of effort you put into the relationship is going to pay you back in spades.
The terms of your time-sharing agreement should reflect the level of involvement you desire to have in your child’s life. You might find that divorce affords you an opportunity to be a much better version of the father you were when you were married.
The divorce attorneys at Weiner & Weiss, LLC can assist you in creating an effective and realistic parenting plan, including a time-sharing arrangement that supports positive and involved fathering as a right and obligation.