There are plenty of ways to sabotage your child’s relationship with your ex following a divorce or separation. Many are overt and deliberate, like openly denigrating the other parent in front of your child. Some are more subtle, and even occasionally inadvertent, like contradicting the rules or boundaries that were set for the child during the relationship.

One such method of undermining your child’s relationship is Disneyland Parenting. This is when one parent goes overboard to indulge a child in an attempt to “buy” his or her affection. This isn’t necessarily a trip to Disneyland or a new pair of Nikes, it might be movie marathons and ice-cream every night or scrapping bedtimes altogether. The aim of this method is usually some combination of:

  1. Wanting the child to indicate to the other parent that they enjoy spending time with you or increase the amount of time they spend with you
  2. Wanting the child to draw a negative comparison with the time he or she spends with your ex; and/or;
  3. To cause friction in the relationship between the child and your ex.

As lovely as the term sounds, Disneyland parenting is one of the more insidious ways of undermining your ex’s parenting. Experts and the Judiciary in family law take a dim view to this approach to parenting. What might appear a victimless crime at first, actually has the potential to cause enormous harm to the parenting relationship and potentially to the child.

It is important to remember that the experience of a child in the care of a Disneyland parent might be fairy floss and rainbows, but it’s artificial and ultimately unsustainable. It is also extremely disruptive and disorienting for a child whose affection is being treated as the subject of competition between the parents.

It is important to remember that the end of the romantic relationship between you and your ex, marks the beginning of a new chapter in an ongoing parenting relationship. The relationship doesn’t have to be friendly, but it must be functional and cooperative for the sake of the child.

Competition is the enemy of co-operation.

Maintaining boundaries for your child might not always be fun, but parenting isn’t supposed to be. Overindulging your child as a means of winning their affection or weakening their bond with your ex will end in tears when the sugar high wears off.

If you’re having trouble cooperating with your ex and you would like to explore techniques for building a healthy and cooperative parenting relationship, consider speaking with one of FGD’s in-house Family and Child Specialists. You can reach us on 03 8376 7000 or send us a message.