Your intentions are good. You only see your kids part-time, so you try to make the most of it. You take them to Disneyland, or maybe it’s just many little treats that add up. You relax the rules and shower your children with toys, desserts and other delights because you love them and want to get their minds off the divorce. So what if they skip chores and bedtime, what’s the big deal? It’s understandable that you’re just trying to be a “fun” parent, but you should also put yourself in your ex’s shoes and think about what this does to both your relationships with the children.

It’s not a competition

If you’re the breadwinner paying child support, it’s probably hard for the other parent to compete financially in treating the kids. If you’re still feeling a little spiteful against your ex, that could seem at first like a good thing, but in the long run, it’s just furthering animosity, and worse yet, your children are trapped in the middle.

Don’t spoil them

Realize the more often you treat your kids the less special it becomes. If you buy them video games every month, what gifts can they look forward to during the holidays? Your kids will probably begin to take these treats for granted, and gifts are expensive. You and your ex probably have more practical uses for money than to be in a spending war.

Kids need parents, not just friends

When your ex is the “tough” parent who is always insisting the children obey rules and you are the “nice” parent who doesn’t, it’s unfair and unhealthy. Your ex is going to feel like the bad guy, but they know they’re just trying to protect them and teach responsibility. Meanwhile, your children will have to adjust to two parenting styles as they move between households, and they’re less likely to take the rules seriously and learn the life lessons.

Getting help

Whether you’ve been a “Disneyland” parent, or your ex has, it might be time to take another look at your parenting plan. Maybe you’re considering modifying the parenting time or the child support. Whatever the change, you’ll need to make the modification official in a court order and talk to an experienced Washington attorney who can help your family look for solutions.