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The problem with being a "Disneyland Dad"

25320706_S.jpgThe common school of thought is that the cards are stacked against men when it comes to being awarded custody of their children during divorce proceedings. While this has often proven to be true historically, recent data suggests that this trend may be reversing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of fathers who had custody of their kids rose from 16 percent in 1994 to 19.6 percent in 2016. Yet even with this increase, it seems that mothers might still be favored in custody proceedings. This may cause some men to become bitter and push them towards becoming "Disneyland Dads." 

A Disneyland Dad (or "Uncle Dad," as such fathers are referred to by Solo Parent Magazine) are those non-custodial fathers who are all about their kids having fun. Their visitation time is often spent at amusement parks, movie theaters and restaurants, while actual time at home is occupied by the kids playing video games, watching whatever movies or TV shows they want, and staying up all night. Many non-custodial fathers act like this in order to perpetually be viewed as "the fun parent," leaving all the actual parenting to this kids' mothers. This may be an attempt to undermine the mothers' authority, or simply to keep the fathers from become further alienated from their kids than they already are. 

The trouble with the Disneyland Dad philosophy it often produces the exact opposite effect; while kids might go to such dads when they want something, they rarely seek out their assistance in dealing with important matters. That is because these dads have built themselves up to be their kids' friends more than authoritative figures. While acting parenting may not always be fun, it typically is what kids (particularly those in divorced families) need in order to maintain any sense of normalcy. 

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