I’m paddling into unfamiliar waters here, and to be honest it scares me. Why? Because there’s nothing funny about it. But this post has been clawing to get out for a while and I simply can’t hold it in any longer. I’ve heard too many stories from people close to me lately, so I’m about to empty both barrels.
How do so many dads walk away from their kids?
Before you type out some hateful response, I’m not talking about divorce. There are plenty of great parents who couldn’t stay married, never got married, or live ten states apart.
I mean…How can so many men “hit and run”, leaving a mother and baby(ies) behind? How can they look in the mirror knowing they’re leaving someone high and dry that is literally 50% “them”? And at what point does a dad become a deadbeat? One missed child support payment? Two? Ten? Mortgage sized?
While the technical definition of a deadbeat dad is one who doesn’t provide financial support, does it really end there? Can it include the ones who blow in and out of their kids’ lives like tumbleweeds…who skip out on important events, ballgames, or simply the scheduled weekends with dad? It was funny when it happened to Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights, but in real life not so much.
“But I don’t have the money,” is a common excuse. And it’s usually bullshit. Deadbeat dads are pretty clear where their priorities aren’t. Can’t pay and won’t pay are two different things.
“I’m not givin’ that bitch anything. She won’t spend it on the kids anyway.” Fine. You hate each other. That’s your problem, and the one who pays for it the most is your kid. But since you have such a strong moral compass about what mom should spend money on, how about getting as creative as you were when you were getting into her pants and figure out how to do things that will directly benefit your children. Pony up for braces, school clothes, little league…whatever. Make an effort to be engaged in their lives. In the eyes of the court you’re still technically delinquent, but it could mean the world to your child.
And if you are making a financial contribution, is it meaningful? Are you paying 100 bucks a month when you make $100K a year? That’s not an effort, it’s an insult. What is this, 1925? Bread’s not a nickel anymore, asshole. You basically paid for a few pizzas and a pair of Walmart jeans. Hopefully you don’t have a daughter because she may have to walk around school “tits-out” all day because you were too cheap to spring for a shirt.
For argument’s sake, let’s say it was a one-time thing. You were drunk. She was drunk. You both woke up with heads pounding and not even sure who the person was in the bed next to you. Should you be forced to pay for two decades?
Well, if I robbed a bank and nine months later got caught, the cops wouldn’t care too much if I wanted to take it back. Even if I hardly knew the crew that boosted the bank, I’d be headed to jail. It should be the same way with fatherhood.
But nothing about being a dad makes me feel imprisoned. When I look at my kids, I’m so proud to be their father. I have so much fun watching little personalities grow from what started out as 24-hour eating/shitting machines. Being their dad has made me a better man.
It’s not all fun and games of course. Some days I want to lock the door and take a bath with a toaster. Others, I pour a glass of bourbon to soothe the nerves. The boys don’t like the taste of it much, but it calms them down quick! And they fight constantly, so much so that I’ve wondered which of the little bastards would fare best if I sold him on eBay. But I won’t. I can’t—because they’re my little bastards and I can’t imagine life without them (and no, I don’t really give them bourbon).
I’m sure there are exceptions or circumstances where the arguments don’t fit and my rant is meaningless. But isn’t it odd how we never hear about those?
My hope for 2017 is that more men will WAKE UP and realize that when the end comes, their biggest regret won’t be having unplanned children, but walking away from them.