An Odd Disney Couple...single mom and teenage son.


Earning My Ears
Aug 7, 2015
Even before I was divorced, I was making an annual trip with my son to Disney World and Universal Studios. After my marriage ended, it took on a greater meaning as it was a much needed respite from the stress of raising a son on my own. Not to delve too deep into personal details, but my ex-husband exited stage left and hasn't returned. My son is now 16 and thankfully our relationship has grown closer over the years.

Disney World was a place of magic and wonder when my son was small and now it is filled with nostalgia and warm memories. I worried that he would lose interest and, to be honest, now enjoys Universal Studios as much as Disney, but he throws himself into the experience and the years roll back.

Not to turn this into a boring story about my personal life, I wanted to share a few of the tips that many trips to Orlando have helped me turn this experience into a truly amazing one for my son and I:

  1. Allow teens to take “phone” breaks. In general, I don't want my son to be on his phone while we are at the parks. I have learned that allowing short periods where they can get their social media fix really soothe the savage beast. It isn't a perfect situation, but my teen can't go cold turkey. Even in the most magical place on Earth.
  1. Definitely don't press the character interaction. My teen has gotten “too cool” for character dining and interactions. I just don't press the issue and he is happy. Teens are a touchy lot and you don't want to make a mountain out of a molehill.

  2. Do insist that you compromise on rides and shows. Are there rides that he doesn't enjoy? Sure...that's too bad. I still enjoy roller coasters, so I don't have to sit those out, but he is required to ride Peter Pan with me. With no eye rolling.

  3. Gauge the shopping situation individually. My kid doesn't like to all. Not even a little bit. Your teen might love it. Hey, it saves me money staying out of the shops and he doesn't have to be seriously annoyed. However, I absolutely believe that if shopping is an important part of your vacation, either do it when they ride a thrill ride or just make them do it. It builds character.

  4. Negotiate issues before you arrive. We talk about experiences that are important to us and what we aren't willing to give up. Everything is a compromise. The important thing is time together and I try to make that my bottom line. I don't have many years left where he is in my home and I absolutely value time more than any ride or restaurant.

  5. After so many trips, we are pretty set in our restaurant choices. I have a kid who gets crabby when he is hungry. Like scary hungry. Dining reservations have saved our vacation. I know where we are going and eat and when. No wandering around looking for a place while he turns quickly into the Incredible Hulk. Do we have favorites? Absolutely. He loves the Sci Fi Drive in Diner, the 50s Prime Time Cafe and Monsieur Paul's. A weird trio, but there it is. I make sure we have those reservations. At 6. It is essential.

  6. Enjoy each other!! Gone are the days where he was always amazed. Now, he is filled with conversation and so many secrets have come out while waiting in lines at Disney. It has been a blessing.

  7. Savor each moment. No more strollers, no more diaper changes...time slips by so quickly. I can't thank Walt enough for these memories that I have been given. They are precious to me. Don't let you teen tell you that they want to stay home, they don't. Disney can help soothe the savage teen beast and take them out of their high school nonsense.

  8. Your mileage may vary!! Every family is different. For a while, I thought of my single parent household as less than. I realized that the only one I was hurting was myself. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Appreciate what you have. It took me a while, but my life changed when I did.


Life's too short to wear pants all the time
Jul 24, 2013
Love this!!! Thank you so much for writing this, I am newly single and taking my kids--a 6 year old daughter and 15 year old son--for our first family trip post-divorce. I'm trying to balance the character interactions and little kid stuff to keep her happy and keeping my teenage son happy too. Wish me luck please. Sounds like you had a great trip!


A rockin' mom and her sweet princess
Nov 19, 2007
I LOVVVVE number 8.

And I stress this to my daughter (who is only 7) as well. Not just in dealing with divorce, but families come in many varieties. I am thankful she knows that she is loved by both her father and myself, but she knows that the two of us don't get along. Sad, but a part of reality.

Anyway, I love your post. Thank you for sharing.


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