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Balancing the "No Parent" & the "Fun Parent" After Your Divorce


One of the most difficult aspects of divorce is learning how to share custody with your ex. No one wants to be the “mean parent,” but what else can you do if your ex is acting irresponsibly as the “fun parent.” The fun parent buys your kids whatever they want, takes them to theme parks, rarely enforces a structured routine, and generally has the pleasure of spoiling them rotten. To your children, visiting your ex is like a trip to Disneyland.

Money Doesn’t Raise Children

As the primary caretaker, it’s difficult to afford your daily necessities on top of providing for your children’s needs. When you’re living off a single paycheck, you need to balance rent, insurance, utilities, etc. It’s easy to feel conflicted—and even angry—when your former spouse is financially stable and able to buy your kids anything and everything their little hearts desire. Suddenly, you’ve become the “mean parent” or the “no parent.”

If your children are old enough, you may be able to explain your financial circumstances. This will help them understand why you can’t be as frivolous as your ex. Your pride may take a hit, but you have absolutely nothing to apologize for. You’re making the responsible decision and ensuring that your children grow up to be considerate adults. If anything, your children can learn how to handle money appropriately from your example. The way their other parent is living does not reflect real life. While it’s tempting to spoil your kids after a divorce, they don’t actually benefit from it.

Unfortunately, there is little you can do about your ex’s spending habits, so it’s best to let the negative emotions go. Instead, focus your energy into caring for your children and proactively starting this second chapter of your life.

Rules & Discipline

Rules and discipline are essential in building a child’s character. Your children need to learn how to establish positive social and professional traits that can serve them for the rest of their lives. However, it’s not easy for your children to constantly jump between the fun house and a home defined by structure and restrictions. Perhaps your ex lives by a “no rules, no chores, no discipline” policy. What child wouldn’t love living in that house? What doesn’t work is when your children expect that policy to carry over to your home.

While you have no say over what happens at the fun parent’s house, your children need to understand that your house has a different set of rules. Rules, chores, and discipline are the building blocks to becoming a responsible adult. You can’t give in and let your children live only by your ex’s rules, even if this makes you the “no parent.” This expectation can only hurt them as developing adults. Just think of every movie or book you’ve seen that has a “rich kid” that needs to be reformed. You don’t want to set your kids up for failure. Your children may not see or understand the big picture yet, but one day they will.

Have Custody Issues or Concerns? Contact Experienced Legal Professionals

If you’re currently going through a divorce or need to modify an existing parenting plan, contact the Fresno child custody attorneys at Arnold Law Group, APC. We can guide you through each step of your legal journey and protect you from inadvertently making a concession that restricts your parenting rights. We also understand that it’s impossible to predict the personal and financial changes you’ll naturally experience in life. If necessary, we can help you pursue a child custody modification that safeguards your relationship with your child.

Contact Arnold Law Group, APC at (559) 900-1263 to schedule a consultation.

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