Disneyland Dad


Why do we find ourselves dependent, gullible, and with so little self-esteem? My heart breaks as I sit and listen to a friend tell me through her tears of her difficulties with her soon-to-be ex.  As I listen to her share her experience and her emotions and her fears, I am all too familiar.  


This was me 7 years ago.  Her words are echoes of my own. Funny how right my counselor was when she told me in 5 years I would see things totally differently.  But I am not so far removed that I cannot remember that pain, those desperate feelings, that agony of defeat.  As I long for my friend to be far beyond where she stands today, I pray God’s peace and comfort for her during this trial.  



Why does she feel worthless? Why does what “he” says still hold so much power?  Why does she feel the need to battle it out with him every time? Believe me, I asked myself those same questions, but when we are in the midst of turmoil, we are unable to think clearly, to see clearly, to hear clearly.


Please be aware that your spouse, soon-to-be ex or ex, knows all the right buttons to push.  Don’t give in; do not let him push those buttons. Why do we care when they say hurtful things to us or about us, and the big one… to our children? Whether we grew up dependent, or we became that way in our marriages, somewhere along the way we lost the ability to stand alone, stand strong, to believe in ourselves.  


Especially when going through a divorce, that person who used to matter the most needs to be thought of as someone of no matter at all.  Whatever comes out of that person’s mouth holds no value to us; it means nothing.


Tonight my main piece of advice to my friend was to STOP answering him. Whether he is calling, texting or emailing; if you can– ignore him. If you must— read; BUT DO NOT RESPOND. He is looking for a fight, and not only are we giving him one, we are more importantly providing him with ammunition he may be able to use against us in the future.  


During heated arguments, we often say things we regret, even things that are not true.  Your ex doesn’t care whether it is true or not; he will construe it to work in his favor. My friend is so afraid her kids are not going to want to be with her, that she will lose them forever. THAT statement right there should scare the dumb-ness right out of you. If we can’t find it within us to stand up for and fight for ourselves, then we should surely be able to stand up for and fight for our children. Set an example our kids can be proud of. Do not let cruel words of someone who is only out to hurt you, define you. You want to live your life so that when others hear the lies he is saying they will stop and say, “no way, that is not the person I know!”


In our legal system, our children do not have a say during a divorce, so be their voice, fight for their best interest.  And once you have a parenting agreement, even if it is not exactly what you think is best, fight to make it work. “Disneyland” dads are everywhere (believe me I see it every day). Dad ends up more financially stable, so he “buys” the kids’ love and attention.  


Mom does not fare as well and feels guilty for not being able to provide those material things.  I still battle with this even now, but I know being a loving, caring, attentive parent is really what all our children want. They may not know it, and we definitely can’t see it, but it is so very true.  


Yes it is fun at “Disneyland” dad’s, yes they get lots of stuff and go lots of places. But when you stop to really really look at them, they feel safe at mom’s, they feel at home at mom’s, and mom is the person they go to with troubles and concerns. My children still say their dad does not care about them. Don’t get me wrong, they still spend time with him, and are part of his family but it is not the same.  


My daughter often asks me why I don’t go to certain events, and my answer is always the same: because that is my time with her. She has recently informed me that it is okay if I go and do, on days she is with me! Way too smart for her 11 years. I simply explain that I don’t want to, during my time with her I prefer to do with her. I don’t tell her, but I will share with you, I only have her with me 50 percent of the time; if I cannot live MY life for me the other 50 percent of the time there, is something seriously wrong with me. I did not choose to only be with her 50 percent of the time. It was a horrible hand dealt to me, and since I can choose, I choose to make her my number one priority all the time. Of course, she only gets to see that 50 percent of the time. There is never a time that she has wanted me to do something or just to share something with me or needed me that I am not there for her. That is something I strive to never change. She sees things like being left with a sitter while at her dads’, being left with her step-mom all the time, and her dad never being around ,versus mom taking her to school events, to tutoring, to ice skating, to birthday parties, on vacations, to visit her brother at college etc.


So let “Disneyland” dad do whatever it is he is doing (as long as it is not putting the kids in danger) and you be the best mom you can be 100 percent of the time.


And to do that, you must learn to stand strong, to see yourself through the eyes of those that love you, not the one who wants to hurt you.


The best revenge is a life well-lived. Really think about that statement. Let it sink in. Say it out loud.


One day in the not-so-distant future, you will stop and realize you are living that life!




Photo Credit: Cody Wiley Photography