(Addresses the failure of fathers to utilize the visitation system to become an active part of their children's lives.)
We all know a brother like this. He`s not the deceitful cowardly stereotypical deadbeat dad who hops from job to job or state to state to avoid child support authorities, or the one so strung out on drugs he`s unable to support himself or his kids financially. He`s not the the ignorant low-life sperm donor who reproduces like a rabbit never looking back at his kids or the mothers who raise them.
No this character holds some respectability, usually in his community, family and with peers. He may even pay child support, and think himself relieved of his other duties to provide emotionally and physically for his child or children. He normally holds down some type of job, be it as a laborer or in the boardroom,on or off the books. Sometimes he`s not even missing or could easily be found. So how can he be called a Deadbeat Dad, he confidently believes to himself and will even share his story with others?
It usually goes something like this:
"I love my kids so much , it`s so unfair I can`t be a part of their lives,
OR I`d do anything to be a part of my kids lives,
OR I would be a great father except" SHE`S A *bleep*!
They might not use the vulgar term, but the sentiment is the same. We have a rash of African American "fathers" who don`t utilize the visitation system to get access to their children, then turn around and blame this irresponsible behavior on the custodial parent, rather than their ownlaziness or unwillingness to submit to the court system, so they can be involved in their kids lives.
While everyone knows that it would be better if you could count on the other parent to be reasonable and give you access to your children, that doesn`t excuse any father from simply dropping out of his child`s life because it ain`t so easy. Yet time and again I will hear brothers using this excuse to explain, why they "can`t" see their kids.
Every state in this nation has visitation laws which allow the non custodial parent quite liberal vistiations, unless there is a previous history of abuse, or a real potential for abuse by the non custodial parent. It doesn`t matter whether the mother wants the father to visit or not, if you seek this opportunity out, it will be given to him 99.9%.
"But the mother gets angry when I come around and takes it out on the child, so I decided not to visit at all" one father recently lamented to me.
"Well that`s emotional child abuse," I explained to him, "If this woman is so mentally ill that she would use your child in that manner, why aren`t you seeking child custody, instead of just dropping out of your child`s life altogether?"
"I just want to make things easier for my child," was basically the reason he cited.
But is it really easier for the child, to not have his/her father in their life and be trapped with a vengeful mother, or is it easier on the FATHER to just not deal with the situation altogether?
I suspect the latter, even though very few drop out fathers will admit that.
The effects of a missing parent far out weigh the trauma a child might experience if the two parents simply don`t get along, yet the child still gets to know each one first hand. If there is TRULY a problem where the mother is abusing the child so badly for visiting with the father, that father`s last thought should be to drop out of his child`s life, rather he should never stop trying to be there to make sure there is at least a balance in the kid`s life and at most he made need to take custody, until the mother learns better parenting skills or maybe forever.
But the dropout dad, who thinks he can escape his duties simply because he`s not in love with, can`t stand the sight of her, or wants nothing to do with the mother anymore is has no excuse in the 2000`s with liberal visitation laws that allow you to see your child regularly without having to ever interact with the other parent if you ask the court to make it that way.
Brothers if you recognize yourself in this description, please for your kids sake, become determined to be a parent to your child, NO MATTER WHAT IT TAKES. Like my favorite line from Alice Walker`s "The Color Purple", when it comes to your kids, allow "nothing to keep me from you."
Submitted by: Michele Drakeford *
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