Parenting isn’t easy. Anyone saying otherwise has never been one - or at least a good one. When I became divorced in ’05 my children were 10 and 22 months old –that’s young by any standard. And I can still remember the trepidation that initial weekend alone with them. Would I be able to do this on my own?
That first year was frequently agonizing and consistently chaotic. It’s sad to say but early on I regularly dreaded those Friday afternoons and Sunday night couldn’t get here fast enough. This single parenting thing wasn’t something I signed up for and without a local support network I was doing it on my own. The simple act of going out to eat, the three of us, was such a production with diaper bags, strollers and bottles it was grueling at best.
There were lots of times when I wanted nothing more than to unload them both, head south, and never look back. My entire life had been turned upside down and not only was it physcially taxing it was seriously cramping my re-emerging social life. Who in their right mind would date a single dad divorced less than a year with two toddlers in tow?
There’s been seven years of water under that bridge since those first days and I now look back on all of it with a sense gratitude. I’m thankful my kids were too young to remember all my mistakes and I’m still amazed to have even survived with my sanity. Those close to me at the time readily admitted the whole thing was a tragic situation. Today I wear those years like a badge of honor because I know what I’d be missing without them. I surely wouldn’t have the kind of connection with my kids as I do and I wouldn’t have those past experiences to frame today’s decisions. Lastly, and arguably most importantly to me, I rest confident in the fact that the majority of men would have bailed the first chance possible.
This post was prompted by a single mom blogger’s recent article about the disappearance of her ex husband from his responsibilities and his children. It’s a heartbreaking read indicative of the current state of so many single fathers. She ends with these words:
“So like that, with the plague of child support haunting him, he’s gone . And as I’m finishing up this post, I have Claire sleeping next to me after crying herself to sleep, asking why he can’t come back and be with us. And I quietly ask myself, “How does he deserve these tears?”
With every ounce of composure I could muster I responded:
“Let me give you my first reaction after I finished this post “I want to find this man and personally beat the shit out of him”. I now understand where your response came from to my post about single dads. As much as I push for father custody, its guys like this that make me consider murder for hire. I’m going to say this…”he’s a loser”. Not only is he not a man but he isn’t worthy of the designation of being in the same conversation as a daddy figure.”
As hard as I try to put myself in other people’s shoes I just don’t have it in me to understand how a boy (he isn’t worthy of man) can so blatantly walk out of his children’s lives. I can think of no other human act more selfish nor is there a solitary excuse that would justify it. This is made even more infuriating for me because I’ve been there; I’m familiar with the many options that could pull a single father away from his children but in the final analysis there is nothing that condones leaving. I don’t care if…
You may fabricate any reason you like but the fact remains if you walk out on your kids you’re a disgrace and deserve little more than a rope and a tree. Frankly the term ‘deadbeat’ isn’t a strong enough reference and jail isn’t a sufficient enough punishment. An absent dad is a child molester – you’ve abused your children’s trust and stolen their innocence because you decided comfort and self-interest were more important than sacrifice and parental responsibility.
It’s because of your dishonorable behavior that little girls grow up with a distorted view of boys and ultimately men. Because of fathers with your miserable character there is now a world of women searching for love and affection in destructive ways. I now have to prepare my daughter to be wary of the sons you left behind because you’re not there to show them what true manhood looks like. And worst of all because you felt being a single dad was too much work there’s now an abyss in your child’s soul and you’ve forced them to believe that your absence is somehow their fault.
It’s because of your irresponsibility that I have to fight for extra time with my kids. On account of derelicts like you court systems automatically award custody to the mother while I’m downgraded to ‘visitation’.
Let me ask you a question, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?!?
You think that you can just walk out on your duties without consequences? You think that you can simply create a whole new life for yourself while those you left behind fend for themselves without ramifications? You might be able to leave, but you can’t out run your conscience. When you lay your pathetic head on the pillow you know what you’ve done and you know what kind of person you really are.
And ladies how could you be with someone like this? If you know that the man you’re with has walked out on his children and you continue to stay with him – you’re not an ounce better than he is! Through your acceptance he can come to grips with his behavior and is able to hide his shame and disgrace behind your love and affection.
I don’t have an easy answer that will stop men from walking out on their kids. But in a society that regards abusers of mistreated animals with more disdain than the parents of mistreated children the first place to start is with us. Michael Vick got almost two years in prison while these losers freely roam the streets every day. Public opinion equates deadbeat dad with money but an absent dad is a deadbeat.