The Fun Parent Syndrome and Co-Parenting in a Divorce

The Fun Parent Syndrome

August 2, 2017
BY: Francesca O'Cathain, Esq.

Recently I felt like watching something funny and easy, so I ordered the film Daddy’s Home, thinking it would be your typical Will Ferrell movie. The movie was pretty funny but unfortunately, on a night where I was exhausted and just wanted to tune out, it got me thinking about one of my biggest divorce attorney dilemmas:

The fun-parent syndrome.

For those of you who have better movie taste than me, and have not seen the movie, it’s about a Mr. Nice-But-Boring Step-Dad (played by Will Ferrell) and Mr. Bad Boy-Dad (played by Mark Wahlberg) competing for the children’s affection.

I spent most of the movie cringing over what I call “fun parent,” syndrome, and how unfair it is, and how there is no right answer.

The Weekday vs Weekend Parent

Fun-parent syndrome is when Parent 1 has parenting-time Monday through Friday and makes the children do their homework, eat healthy, go to school, etc., and Parent 2 exercises parenting time over the weekend, when it is all fun and games, junk food, presents, etc.

Even worse is mid-week parenting, when Parent 2 takes them out to dinner, keeps then up late, etc., and Parent 1 has to make them take a bath, do their homework, etc.

The problem is there is no easy answer here. Of course if you only have your children limited time than you are going to want to do fun-stuff. Makes total sense. On the other hand, I have seen so many parents get frustrated and hurt because they are doing the day-today heavy lifting but all their children want to do is see the “fun parent.”

To a lesser degree, this takes place in intact families, including my own. We have all come home late from a work meeting and riled our kids up just as the other parent has spent half-an-hour getting them to bed. In divorced families, this can be an every day occurrence.

How to Deal With It

If this bothers you, my advice is to try to talk to the other parent about it. They might not realize it. For example, if they are picking up the children for Wednesday night dinners, maybe they can (and they may want to) try coming earlier and doing some homework at the library first. Communication is key here so both parents can be on the same-page. However, ultimately if communication does not work-just remember that children love parents for all different reasons and although they won’t always appreciate it, they will love the guidance and stability you are providing them.

And try to address the fun parent syndrome issue before this November. That’s when the sequel, Daddy’s Home 2, arrives in theatres.

New Jersey Divorce Lawyers Here to Help You

Going through a divorce and co-parenting is simply not easy. At Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC, our New Jersey divorce lawyers want to make the process as simple as possible for you and your children.

Contact us today for a legal consultation.