Like a double-edged sword, the parenting standard for men and women, especially in the minority communities, across the country has been proven bias. The concept of a deadbeat dad in our society is one that labels a father who is not in the child’s life as a second-rate citizen. But what are the circumstances behind this estranged relationship? Is it deliberate? Is it intentional?
How did we get here? For many fathers with whom I’ve had the opportunity to speak with throughout the years, they’ve expressed that the label inappropriately describes them. Some feel that such a label only seeks to tarnish the image of good men by hiding behind the premise of a deserter. From these men’s perspective, a deadbeat dad is someone who fathers a child and actively chooses to distance himself from the child.
Contradictory to many fallacies presented as fact, most men want to be active in their children’s lives. In many cases, the woman and man separate sometime after the woman becomes pregnant or sometime after the birth of the child. Men often report to me that the reason that they are not in their child’s life is because the mother chooses not to allow it. The mother strips away visitation and scares the man away with threats of going to court for child support.
The woman, in many cases, wants desperately to be with the man but because he refuses her terms, she uses the child as a token or bargaining chip. Using the child as leverage is quite common however; many do it without knowing what the implications may be, while others know the consequences but do not care enough to avoid those outcomes. There are no winners in such situations.
Men in minority communities often do not understand the legal system, they do not understand their rights as a father, or they are simply petrified of legal proceedings. One man told me once that he did not know that the court could appoint him a lawyer in a support or custody case. Another man assumed that the mother has total authority over the child and anything regarding the child. He did not understand that he had equal parenting rights as the mother, therefore he simply gave up.
Another concept that people tend to ignore is that women in the child’s life who makes the child suffer because of a broken relationship with the father is hurting the child with selfish reasons. Should that woman be not labeled as a deadbeat mom?
What about the so-called “independent” mom who claims that she does not need a man to help her take care of her child, is she a deadbeat? Any parent who deprives a child from having a relationship with the other parent is a deadbeat. If a parent is taking care of a child, then that parent is parenting argumentatively, if a parent isn’t taking care of a child, then that parent should be referred to as a deadbeat.
What do I mean? Sometimes men are reluctant to give women money for the child because men believe that women will spend it on themselves and not the child. While this is not accurate in many cases, some women tend to neglect, beat, and abuse their children because of extreme hatred for the father, irresponsible behavior, and being financially illiterate.
Not giving money to support your child because you are skeptical of how the other parent would spend it is not an excuse not to give. If you help to create the child, it is your duty to help maintain that child until that child is at an age where he/she is able to maintain self.
Conversely, a child should not be used as a pawn and withheld from the other parent because the other parent isn’t contributing of because the other parent is not interested in pursuing a relationship.
The natural order of things is that men take care of the home (financially and so forth) while women takes care of the children. It’s a philosophy that has worked for hundreds of years. In modern society with the family dynamic changing, it is difficult to revert to such philosophy.
It seems that women are more content with being a single mother than they are with being adult about situations when it comes to parenting. Likewise, men tend to avoid responsibility by blaming the mother for her lack of co-operation.
If the pair would realize that the child is not a dollar amount and that the child needs the mom just as much as the dad, many issues with parenting or co-parenting would not exist today.
The unfair practice of labeling a dad a deadbeat if he does not have the financial means to support his child must end. If the dad is able to provide support in other ways like taking the child while the mother works or doing the child’s laundry, taking the child to practice etc, there are many ways the father can be supportive and play an active role in the child’s life.
Mothers can be supportive by realizing that the father does not want to pursue a relationship. It is often difficult to get over a relationship especially if you have committed time, money, energy, and tears, however, for the sake and developmental well-being of the child, those issues must be put aside, although it is difficult, one cannot blame the child for their relationship missteps and must not use the child to get back at the other parent.
I hope this essay provided some talking points that can be used in a healthy debate to further assist the parenting and upbringing of children raised in a single parent-home. The term deadbeat is hurtful, harmful, and degrading and children see all. Children in harmful situations, such as the ones previously described herein, are victims of both parent’s inability to nurture the child.