Em Rusciano: "I'm the fun parent."

Em Rusciano







I saw a headline today that put the fear of a small furry seal being approached by a great white, into me:

“Mum wins custody case after lunch box battle”.

Holy crap balls, I thought. That’s a thing? I mean that’s a thing they can bust you for or use against you? Instantly I thought back to all the times I’ve put chewy in as a snack or tried to wrap soup in foil. (Yes. I really did that. The result was not pretty – no tiny teddies survived that day.)

As I apprehensively clicked on the article, what I read was much, much worse.

It appears a custody battle has gone down and the mother in this situation felt that her child should not be living with her estranged husband because he did NOT cut up their son’s fruit, allowed him to eat chips and ice-cream and put plastic sandals on him.


The providing of jam sandwiches and clothing issues were also sited as misdemeanors on the part of  the father.

Where are we?

I just can’t. I don’t even know where to start with this one, so I’m going to put it down and walk away from it for now and pick up another angle.


I suspect part of this mother’s issue is fun-parent-anxiety.

Let me explain.

I have a few friends who have separated from their husbands and they inevitably complain about not being the “fun parent” any more.

Em walking to school with her daughter.

Being the fun parent is kinda like being Carrie Bradshaw. What I mean is, everyone thinks they’re the fun parent, even if deep down you know you’re not, you still wish you were.

Most women who like Sex and the City, like to think that they’re Carrie, when perhaps they’re really Miranda (with a touch of Samantha thrown in when cocktails are involved).

If you have custody of your child during the week like “Lunch Box Mum” probably has, then your job is to keep the engine running. The enforcing of routines is your role. The doing of homework is your responsibility. You become nobody’s favourite robot: Nagg-a-tron. (That is what I call myself when I am attempting to discipline my children.)

When Dad comes to get the kids for the weekend (or whatever the arrangement may be) it’s all fun times ahoy. Mum feels as though she has been forced into being Mrs Hannigan doing all the boring yet necessary stuff, while good old Daddy Warbucks gets to take the kid to Awesome Town.

If we move our attention to families where the parents are still together and put on our ‘mass generalisation’ hats, then I would say that MOST of the time, Dad is usually considered the fun parent, as Mum is usually (not always) Captain of the good ship Home.


It may or may not surprise you to know that I am the fun parent.

I really am.

I’m not just saying that.

I. AM.

I happily admit that I find it very hard to discipline my children without cracking a smile. I believe there isn’t much that glitter can’t fix and I try to say yes to most things as I think a lot of parents say no because it’s easier.

I know, I hate me too after that sentence – but it’s what I think. I also think unicorns are real so you can choose to take what I say with a grain of salt.

This leaves my ever-suffering husband to enforce the rules. He monitors the TV watching as I would happily watch She-Ra marathons with my kids if allowed. He ensures that they get out and play after school (see aforementioned marathon).

He yells when the dog has glitter on its bum because it smelled and Odette my youngest was trying to fix it (which I think is perfectly reasonable)… but ok you see why I am not the enforcer in this situation.

I love being the fun parent. I also double as the injury parent and the bad dream parent. It’s win-win!

Em Rusciano is the host of Mamamia Today on Austereo (which you should be tuning into at 3pm every weekday because it’s ace) and regularly appears on Network Ten’s ’The Project’. You should follow her on Twitter here and take a look at her website here.

Are you the fun parent or the enforcer? Perhaps you have mastered both and wish to share your secret here.