When you don’t spend as much time with your kids as you’d like, it’s easy to get caught in a cycle of what some experts call Disney parenting. Your North York divorce lawyer has likely seen several cases in which the non-custodial parent tries to make each visit top the last. While it’s okay to have a blast with your kids, it’s not okay to set them up to expect every visit to be a giant play date; that isn’t reflective of real life, and it’s not what your kids need.

Disney Parents: What Makes Them Tick?

It’s natural to want to have fun with your kids. In fact, it’s good for the whole family if you keep things upbeat, even if your child custody agreement allows you very little time together.

People who are considered Disney parents might go a little overboard, though, doing things with kids that the other parent can’t. Often, one parent is unable to go all-out because of financial constraints, work obligations or other issues.

In some cases, Disney parents go out of their way to make themselves seem more fun to be with than the other parent; some do it to compensate for the amount of time they spend apart.

Why Disney Parenting Can Do More Harm than Good

When parents try to “wow” kids with constant entertainment, lavish gifts and lots of trips to fun locations, they might be sending the wrong signals. Kids thrive on rules, schedules and knowing what to expect. While getting the latest game system or taking an adventure-packed vacation is fine, they need regular parenting, too—even when it’s not as much fun.

Even if you’re feeling a little animosity toward your ex, becoming an overindulgent parent can do more harm than good. Kids quickly learn what to expect, and when you run out of steam, your kids will be disappointed. Likewise, if you have to mete out discipline, your kids might be more resentful of you than they would the other parent in the same situation.

Reeling in Your Overindulgent Ways

Spending quality time with your kids is what counts, especially if you don’t have the quantity you’d like. Ten years from now, you want them to remember that you were there for them when they needed you. You want them to remember your emotional support, your reliability and your willingness to set limits that made them feel comfortable.

Your kids will love you whether or not you buy them the latest high-tech toys, take them to theme parks or let them stay up all night watching movies. What they really want is the same mom or dad they’ve always known—not a new, improved version.

If you think you or your ex is becoming a Disney parent, talk to your North York divorce lawyer. Your lawyer might be able to suggest a local professional who can talk to you, your ex and your kids to help them understand that love doesn’t have to come in the form of gifts, trips and constant fun.