Deadbeat Dads And The Women Who Still Love Them

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Shortly after I started this website I wrote an article that remains one of the most clicked, most read, most shared. In that post, A Manifesto On Absent Fathers, I take behind the woodshed single and divorced dads who abandon their financial responsibilities, then offer up an extra-hot serving of contempt for the ones who walk away from their kids altogether. In the concluding paragraphs of that piece I write,

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.

It’s time to elaborate.

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I get lots of email from single moms; some saying ‘thank you’, a few seeking advice; while for others, I’m just an internet shoulder to cry on. And without exception, the notes sent in response to this article have a similar tone,

The ex-husband, boyfriend, baby daddy, ran out on her and the kid(s) and quickly into the arms of another woman. He doesn’t have money for child support; won’t make time for his children, but seems to have plenty of both for the girlfriend.

While it’s easy, and I’d argue righteous, to throw such loser dads under the bus I can’t help but wonder, ‘what about the other woman?’ Why is she getting a morality hall pass? Why, within the larger issue of deadbeat fathers, is the girlfriend never mentioned?

•♦•

It takes time getting to know someone, learning about his or her twitches and discovering the type of person they are. It’s been said, and for the life of me I can’t remember by whom, that dating is the most deceptive time of our life – it’s spent trying to prove we’re someone we’re not. But as I’ve written before, and experience shows, such charades have a shelf life; he’ll eventually come home drunk or she will have a PMS meltdown. This tends to surface after the first three months together. Most can keep up a lie for 90 days, after that we start showing who we really are. But this isn’t the case for single parents and especially single dads. We have a ready-made ‘great guy’ barometer that can’t be manipulated or hidden, for very long. Anything of true importance to be learned about a single dad is summed up in the type of dad he is or isn’t – on this fact there is no exception. I’ve yet to meet a guy, who would be considered a deadbeat dad in specific terms, that isn’t a piece of shit in general ones. The two go hand-in-hand.

•♦•

Every woman reading this should understand something, a father who runs away from his parental responsibilities –especially abandoning his children – is running towards something, perceived greener grass, an addiction, fear, or pure selfishness. But more often he’s running towards someone. That’s important and here’s why. Men, at least those inclined to do so, will only abandon plan ‘A’ (wife and/or kids) if a plan ‘B’ is ready and waiting. Men are far too insecure to attempt something of such consequence alone – i.e. walking out on his parental responsibilities. A deadbeat dad needs distraction; a way to sooth his tender conscience since what he’s doing is wrong and he knows it. He requires something, or more precisely someone, to hide his shame. Which leads us back to that original paragraph.

•♦•

Any woman who knowingly loves and cares for a man who has abandoned his children is no better than he is. In fact, she’s a huge part of the bigger problem. The woman who stays with a deadbeat dad is just as guilty of hurting those children as he is. Why? Her love allows him hide his sin and shame. She is the ready and willing distraction he needs, the plan B soothing his tortured soul. I already know what some are saying,

You don’t understand my story;‘ she won’t let him see the kids, she’s a bitch, she’s kidnapped his kids, she’s taken them away.

That may be, certainly there are mothers so evil; and if that is the case – and that is a very big IF – he had better be moving heaven and earth to get back into his kids’ lives, instead of living as if they don’t exist. He should be doing everything in his power, legally, financially, whatever, to fix that problem. Anything less is empty excuses.

•♦•

A Manifesto On Absent Fathers was written almost three years ago and my attitude hasn’t change one degree since. The reason I feel so strongly about this is because I’ve been there; I know every justification men have for walking away from their kids – and they’re all complete crap. In the end it’s selfishness and any father who abandons his children, casting them to fate, is, in the final analysis, a child molester who has stolen his kids’ innocence and raped their futures. And if a woman knows this, and chooses to remain with him anyway, she is equally pitiful and just a guilty. And just to be clear, don’t be deceived into thinking that ‘deadbead dad’ is merely a financial label; that since he pays child support on time that makes him a good dad. I don’t care how big a check he writes, if he isn’t plugged in, present, and actively available to his kids, he is a deadbeat dad. Period.

•♦•

So here’s my plea, if you know you’re in a relationship with a deadbeat father, a man who has abandoned the children from a prior relationship while trying to move on with you,  end that relationship now. That’s right, leave him today and tell him you’re not coming back until he does the right thing. It doesn’t matter if you think,

  • He’s the love of my life
  • My children adore him
  • I don’t have anybody else
  • I won’t know what to do
  • He treats me so good

And heaven help if you’re already married to or have a child with this man. Make his life a complete living hell until he takes steps towards handling his ‘other’ responsibilities. But that is the real issue, isn’t it? It’s somebody else’s problem. He’s there for your kids; he supports your family, so why should you care about anyone else? There’s a flaw with that thinking. Any man who will reject his children will walk out on anyone for any reason, or no reason. Don’t flatter yourself by thinking you’re that special – you’re not. At one point you were his plan B and if he gets the itch he’ll abandon you for plan C.

But the sad reality is I’m probably wasting my time writing this. Unless we treat deadbeat dads more as deatbeats, nothing changes. So long as these fathers still have the arms of another to fall in and the support and affection of someone else ready to ease their conscience, there will be no reason for change and this travesty of fatherless children will continue. And it starts with the women who love them as these dads move on with their lives. But if you’re not willing to take the first stand, then please, continue loving him, caring for and respecting him, and being for him everything that tells him he’s a good man and dad. But just know this, doing so makes you a deadbeat also.

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