Negotiating a Co-Parenting Plan with the “Fun Parent”

Negotiating a Co-Parenting Plan with the “Fun Parent”

There is a common – and natural – phenomenon that occurs when one parent only sees their child on weekends or certain months of the year. Because they only have a short time together, this parent makes great effort to fill their custody time with happy experiences and thrilling adventures. Over time, you become the “no parent” who enforces discipline and a structured routine, while your ex is the “fun parent” who takes them Disneyland, buys them expensive toys, and lets them eat ice cream for dinner.

Unfortunately, you can’t control how your ex decides to use their parenting time. What you can do, however, is manage your own feelings and reactions, and recognize that you’re playing the long game of parenting.  

The Money Problem

You likely have many financial concerns now that you’re separated from your ex – and their regular paychecks. As a primary caretaker, you need to balance your daily necessities on top of rent, utilities, insurance, etc. It’s easy to feel frustrated and infuriated every time your financially-stable ex takes your kids on vacation or one-ups your birthday present.

Again, you can’t control your ex’s spending habits, so it’s best to release those negative feelings and focus on your attention on caring for your children. If your kids are old enough, you can explain your financial situation and why you can’t be a 24/7 Disneyland parent. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but you have nothing to feel ashamed about. If anything, you’re being the responsible parent and taking steps to make sure your children grow up to responsible and considerate adults. The way your ex lives on the weekends and holidays doesn’t reflect real life. While it’s tempting to go tit-for-tat with your ex in spoiling your kids rotten, it’s better to teach your children how to manage money appropriately. Also, there is one golden rule you should always remember: money can’t buy love.

A Break in Routine

As a responsible parent, you’ve worked hard to establish a daily routine that runs on bedtime rituals, chore assignments, and homework time. Being the “no parent” isn’t fun, but discipline is essential in building a child’s character and preparing them for adulthood. Of course, if it’s hard to establish rules when your ex is simultaneously encouraging a “no chores, no rules, no discipline” lifestyle. What child wouldn’t want to live in that environment? However, even if it’s emotionally satisfying, you can’t just give in and set your child up for failure.

If you have a contentious relationship with your ex, your best option is to be firm about the “my house, my rules” policy. However, if your ex is open to communication, you may be able to develop a co-parenting strategy that allows you to stand as a united front when it comes to discipline. This can provide a modicum of stability for a child who struggles to reconcile two different household guidelines.

Follow these 10 tips to create a stable foundation for your child:

  1. Work with your ex by discussing common parenting goals.
  2. Always keep your temper in check.
  3. Talk to your ex in a level-headed manner.
  4. Resist the urge to play “bad cop.”
  5. Set aside “co-parenting time” so that you and your ex can catch up about your child’s life
  6. Don’t undermine your ex if you feel that they’re too lenient.
  7. Fair is fair: you can’t break the rules your ex wants to enforce.
  8. Follow through with disciplinary procedures.
  9. Don’t let your child pit you and your ex against each other.
  10. Be wary of your child leaving one house to avoid disciplinary actions.

Have Custody Issues or Concerns? Contact Experienced Legal Professionals

If you have questions or concerns about your existing parenting plan, contact the Panama Beach child custody lawyers at The Virga Law Firm, P.A. We can review your marital settlement agreement and, if necessary, help you pursue a modification that reflects your current circumstances and the needs of your child.

We accept calls 24/7! Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A. at (800) 822-5170 to schedule a consultation.