Would you say that the guy in the picture is a ‘dead beat’ dad? I would and I bet you he actually lives with this child.
I wrote this article to encourage folks to think a bit differently about the labels we put on people. In this case it would be the moms or dads who may or may not have the financial means to contribute to the care of their kids as we think they should. My views have stayed the same over the years: If you have participated in creating a life or bringing a life into this world then you had better assume that that life is as important if not more so than your own. Step up and do what is necessary for that little human being to make sure that he/she has the best possible chance to thrive and succeed. If it can’t be with money it can be with your time, interest, your love and energy. It can be by demonstrating a desire to be an integral part of your child’s life and to help them feel valued whether you live in the family home or elsewhere.
Here’s where it gets to be more tricky unfortunately. Often times the law gets involved and sends the egregious parent to jail or levies some kind of sanction on him making it more difficult to earn money to pay what he can’t pay. This logic escapes me. If he can pay and just chooses not to certainly that is a different circumstance which requires a different response.
Having said that I, for one, am tired of hearing about all the ‘dead beat dads’ out there as if there aren’t any ‘dead beat moms’. How about dead beat parents?
What is a dead beat dad anyway?
What does a dead beat dad look like?
Are all dads dead beat dads if they stop paying or can’t pay support?
I’m not suggesting that dads can just run off when the going gets tough, hook up with another partner and forget about what they left behind. Similarly, there are those instances where single moms get involved with other partners, often move them into the home expecting ‘junior’ to get along with the new guy. The new guy has all the rights and privileges of a permanent fixture. He may contribute to the fridge and the cable bill-maybe-and ‘dad'(the real one) is stuck supporting a life style that he can’t afford for himself. Should he continue to pay? Or lets say mom gets married again and finds true happiness. Does the ‘real dad’ still need to pay as much? Perhaps the ex and her new man get to go to Florida in the winter for a ‘break’ and the ‘old’ man gets to live in a three room walk up with rattling pipes because that’s all he can afford after paying alimony and child support. What if all he can do is see his kids once a week for an ice cream cone and a walk in the park. Is that enough if that’s all he’s got to give or does he still qualify as a dead beat dad?
Emotions, often raw ones, can get involved in the decision making process especially around how the kids will be treated.Yes you can see them or no you can’t–screw you can be a common refrain. How this goes often depends on how the relationship ends between mom and dad and who was responsible for the break up. In either case those emotions need to be put aside for the betterment of the children left behind instead of “I’m going to clean him/her out of every red cent they have”. Acrimony is a poor substitute for responsibility.
What about single mom’s who become dead beat moms–(taken from a site called: Canadian Children’s Rights Council a few years back). Apparently dead beat moms exist as well. Using just a percentage figure there are more dead beat moms out there then there are dead beat dads (don’t shoot the messenger). According to this study 57% of moms out there who are required to pay child support actually do pay some or all of what they are responsible for. That compares to 68% of dads who are required to do the same.
The point is there is enough bad news to go around for the children who are most affected. Dead beat parents are just that. They are those who, for whatever their reasons, choose not to support their kids financially. But for me, money is just one way. There are other ways of providing for our children besides dollars and cents.
We know what is NOT working well and we need to understand that we cannot legislate morality. We cannot force people to do what they don’t want to do or at least not without spending a great deal of our dwindling resources.
When considering certainties we know that as long as we are content to vent our anger and our self-righteousness, or to judge and label others with this or that instead of encouraging those ‘bad moms or dads’ who may not be able to pay but are willing to be a part of their children’s lives in some way, the kids will continue to suffer big time. That, for me, is the real tragedy here.
That’s how I see it anyways, Jim
Pass this along to friends, clients, family or anyone else you think may benefit from considering this.