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When do kids figure out their other parent is a Disney Dad/Mom?

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Nature_Girl posted 6/12/2013 20:40 PM

Tesla's plight at having Teslet taken tonight unexpectedly by Disney Dad and the exerienced voices talking with her have made me wonder, when do kids finally get old enough to figure out their other parent is just a Disney Dad/Mom out to buy their affection & loyalty? When? WHEN?

Two of my three openly admit that they see & do more with their father now that we're separated than they ever did before. One of those two is especially resentful of this fact. The third will not see or admit the possibility of this reality. For the time being, though, my three seem thrilled to come home with arms laden with toys galore. Toys, books, games galore. And are happy to be taken to movies & fun places & outings which I cannot possibly afford. I can afford none of it. I scrape the barrel just to come up with money to buy them a new pair of shoes (because STBX will NOT buy them anything necessary like that, will not, will not, will not).

When, oh when, do kids figure out that they are being bought? It's not like I sit around fuming about this. I don't. But Tesla's post tonight has brought the issue up in my mind again.

(No, I'm not going to specify my kids' ages. That they are in elementary school is hopefully age-specific enough. Sorry!)

wannabenormal posted 6/12/2013 20:47 PM

It's sort of a weird thing because while it's apparent to the kids, they still want the Disney parent's affection, so maybe it's not right away, but sadly - they get it. They want DP's attention, so they'll soak it in, and even defend it...but I think sadly - they know.

I wish my kids never realized that, but they do.

As much as their Dad pisses ME off, I wish he didn't also piss them off...and he does sometimes. I wish it were seamless and I could just seem like 'cray mom', but it's not that way IRL.

roughroadahead posted 6/12/2013 21:16 PM

A cousin of mine had a "disney" dad who had quite a bit more money than her mom. The divorce occurred when she was a toddler. The Disney part was worked out by middle school age. The elementary years were all tropical vacations and ballet lessons on dad's weekend only.

As she got older and needed him to be there emotionally, she saw the fail. It was a bumpy ride, but she's college age now and hasn't seen her dad in a year or more.

Snapdragon posted 6/12/2013 21:24 PM

I am a child of divorce. I was 12 at the time. It made me very uncomfortable to be with my Disney Dad. I hated going to stores and him asking "Do you want this? How about this?" His only way to show his love was through spending money. He was never an involved father. After the divorce "visitation" was the way it was. I hated it.

Looking back, I wonder what I could have gotten had I been an opportunistic type of kid willing to take everything he was willing to give. But that wasn't my style. I'm still not good at receiving gifts. Me exWH gave gifts for his own purposes, too.

inconnu posted 6/12/2013 21:26 PM

My kids were older when their dad left, and they figured out the disney dad thing pretty much right away. Now it seems like they use it to their advantage, which part of me can't blame them for, but the mom in me kind of cringes that my kids are so opportunistic.

wannabenormal posted 6/12/2013 21:39 PM

Inconnu - your kids aren't how do I put this, opportunistic as they probably are REALISTIC with their father. They're not grabby, but probably realize dad will pay, so why not be a lil grabby? Hell, I probably would myself if I were a teen right now.

They're good people because you raised them that way.

That's what I am battling at times. Dad can 'do' the big vacations and Christmas gifts, I can't...but if he's willing, why not? It's sorta ill really, but what can you do?

Let the kids enjoy what BOTH of you can provide, even when it's really effing different.

[This message edited by wannabenormal at 9:42 PM, June 12th (Wednesday)]

Bluebird26 posted 6/13/2013 05:49 AM

My oldest is 14 he has figured it out. He no longer wants any contact with his father.

My youngest is 12 he is waivering between no wanting to see him and hoping he will change sadly that will never happen.

KeepOnMovin posted 6/13/2013 10:19 AM

Interesting question.

STBX isn't so much Disney Mom, as far as buying them a bunch of stuff (although she's planning her third trip to Dallas for Six Flags in the past 5 months...). Her DisneyMom stuff is more about limited boundaries, and letting them do whatever they want (DS18 having parties at her house with her not there).

I'm just doing my best to provide a safe and stable envrionment for my kids. I pledge to 'be there' for them, and teach them values rather than buy them a bunch of crap or take them to amusement parks.

I just have faith they will know who they can depend on.

lostmommy posted 6/13/2013 10:24 AM

I'm just doing my best to provide a safe and stable envrionment for my kids. I pledge to 'be there' for them, and teach them values rather than buy them a bunch of crap or take them to amusement parks.

I just have faith they will know who they can depend on.

This. Although sometimes I wonder if I'm the Disney parent, because I'm the one that does activities with J, takes him on vacation, etc. But at the end of the day, I don't really care. I know that J will see me for what I am and will see his father for what he is soon enough. So I just do the best job I can with the resources that I can.

itainteasy posted 6/13/2013 10:25 AM

I was 5 when my dad left.

I was 10 when I figured him out.

I stopped seeing him for visitation when I was 12.

ExposedNiblet posted 6/13/2013 11:42 AM

NG, I feel your pain. I remember thinking those thoughts not that long ago. I am answering this question based on my own experiences with my 2 boys, now 14 & 16, who have essentially had nothing but a Disneyland Dad relationship with their father since they were born. Their father worked out of town for extended periods of time and really wasn't home much.

I think kids learn very quickly, but don't really understand it until they've matured.

Let's face it, who doesn't like being lavished by gifts and treats and travel and all that "stuff"?

BUT, when push comes to shove and those kids need a shoulder to cry on or some advice, they will come to you, NG. They know that you are their rock and that they can count on you, no matter what comes up or when it happens. They won't go to their Dad. You know them better than they know themselves - you are connected to them on so many levels. Their Dad is not.

I think your kids will eventually realize that they just don't know their father and that he hasn't really taken the time to know them. Even though they'll be more than happy to accept his gifts now, there are no real emotional bonds there, and they will lose interest. Once they see that they can get their own "stuff" and go places on their own, there won't be any real need to spend much time with dear old Dad.

Just be there for your kids, in the ways you have always been. Be the best Mom you can be and you'll see that your kids will eventually know the difference between you and their Dad.

It does suck during the early years, though.

Hang in there.


TXBW68 posted 6/13/2013 12:53 PM

As I said in Tesla's post, my boys picked up quickly. Dad never spent any time with them as "just the guys" before we separated. Every time he promised to take them fishing or bowling or or or, something would come up.

They used visitations to their advantage After they called him on it. They said "How come when we asked you to take us to X before you left, you always said Maybe Later?". His response "Now is Later". So, while he didn't take them to Disney World (we actually had already paid for our trip as a family for last summer - I got a refund when he left), he did take them to the arcade, waterpark, bowling, fishing, movies, etc. ALL the stuff the boys wanted to do before - but he never would go.

Now that H is home, the boys get scheduled parent/kid date night with each of us and family time. Exactly what I tried to do for them before he left.

While the boys were milking their dad for every dime he could spend on them, the three of us created an emotional bond together that he will never understand or be a part of. He's been home since Feb and they still don't talk to him about their problems or personal thoughts. They come to me instead. I was the one who didn't leave them. I was the one who took care of them. He just spent money.

It's sad really...waywards give up so much for their unicorns. They don't care about the ramifications to the people that should matter most to them - their kids.

MissMoneypenny posted 6/13/2013 17:13 PM

As the others have already stated, your kids will figure it out and I think it is mostly around the age of 13 /14 that they are mature enough to see the "responsible " parent with the shoulder to cry on versus the Disney parent.
Just two weeks ago my son (almost 13) confirmed this for me when his father was visiting(for the last 2 years WH used to stay with us in our apartment --which we both own still together-- whenever he was visiting for a week in 2 months but I have finally moved to my own place 2 days ago ) . WH was outside in the playground with DD when DS came home from school and was very troubled about a problem he had with the teacher and worried that the teacher would call me.
DS immediately confessed to me the reason why he got in trouble at school and told me he was glad that his father and sister were not there so that he could discuss this with me in private.
He was very relieved that I didn`t shout at him and we discussed the school matter in a very mature and calm way and I helped him to draw up a letter of apology to his teacher. He told me several times that night how much he loved me and how glad he was that we had talked it through.
When I asked him if he had mentioned the whole incident to his father he just waved this off and said that he doesn´t want to discuss anything like that with him.
That just made me realize that yes, DS knows exactly who he can rely on and who will always provide a stable environment for him.
DS also mentioned to me several times that he knows that his father will buy anything for him that he wants but that actually he doesn`t even know what to ask for as he feels that he has everything.
With DD though I very often ask myself exactly the same question as Nature Girl; as my little princess is her father`s apple of the eye and alreday told me clearly that "in Daddy`s house I always get so many more gifts than in your house" -
believe me I was so mad at WH and OW (who lives of WH`s money to buy DD gifts ) and I confronted WH with her statement and told him how this hurts me (DD also tends to completeyl ignore me when WH is around).
His response was that he never does it to hurt me and hardly gets her any gifts nowadays, only clothes and that whenever she is in his house she clearly tells him that she likes it much more in my house and that she doesn`t like being in his house except for her lovely bedroom .

Reality posted 6/13/2013 18:17 PM

Presents are great, but even that evens itself out as time goes on.

It takes knowing someone well to give a good gift. As the divorce moves through, N_G, and this "putting on a good show" phase from your soon to be ex dwindles, he'll choose to be around the kids less and less.

That means the gifts, even expensive ones, will be less and less relevant to who they are and what's important to them as he becomes more disconnected from them.

I've mentioned how I'm pretty sure our ex's were separated at birth. I never saw my ex lavish more "attention" on the kids than in the six months the divorce was processed. The minute the papers were signed, we didn't see him for three months.

Then we didn't see him for six months. Now we see him once a year or so.

The masks can't be used for long without serious maintenance. These men don't bother with maintenance if they aren't getting something out of it - some reward. Spending time with the kids won't be enough of a reward.

My kids knew who/what he was way before I thought they would. Be you. Love your babies. Keep giving them the stability and safety you always have. It makes all the difference.

[This message edited by Reality at 6:19 PM, June 13th (Thursday)]

Ashland13 posted 6/13/2013 20:04 PM

All that glitters, is not gold.

I was very early 20's when my mother abandoned my father and he was always the stricter one. I am by far the stricter one now, often called "Schedule Mom", but you know what? Who I trust now, a lifetime later, is my father.

My mother is very glittery, clingy to DD, loud, full of laughter that's not always real and always, always has a sugar treat and toys--this is Perv now.

Problem is, they can't seem to find a promise to DD they can actually keep and she is aware of it now. She said, "it hurts when someone says something of a plan and it never, never happens." I work very hard not to talk about a plan or outing out loud or something to buy and would rather just do the action and tell her shortly ahead. This has always been my way and I notice since Perv is gone he doesn't do that anymore and is breaking promises nearly every visit.

The short end of the stick in my opinion is, they get it. Whether or not they talk about it seems different for every kid, but it doesn't take long to see through the glitter (dinners out and toys).

I tell DD point blank, "I have no money but want to spend time with you anyway" and that gets accepted with a smile and we do quieter, more every day things.

You know, too, kids figure out who they can count on, whether they tell us or not, they know.

Glitter is very shiny and exciting, but at the end of the day or night, who is generally there with them? Yes, I believe they know. Quite soon.

AppleBlossom posted 6/13/2013 21:09 PM

We have been divorced over five years, and my ten year old said a few weeks ago "I love Dad, and its fun at his house, but he is a crappy parent".

We were having some serious talks with my eldest (twelve) about what would happen if I died as I am making my will. She asked if they could all stay with my current partner and still go and see dad on weekends, as my current partner is "stricter and more organised, and that is much better while we are at school".

I have never, ever denigrated my ex-husband, I have facilitated and encouraged a relationship between him and the kids, even when they were not keen on seeing him when they were younger. I hate him with a deep and fiery passion, but they have absolutely no clue about that.

So yes, you keep being the best parent you can be - and sometimes that means that you have to be a co-parent when you really dont want to be - and the kids WILL get it.

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