A few weeks ago I sat in child support court for almost an entire day and let me tell you, it was a very ugly place to be. There was anger, pain and brokenness all around me. I have been a single mother, I have gotten child support from two men for my kids and I am married to a man who has been screwed over by his ex-wife for child support by lying about the amount she has gotten from him. All that is to say that I have been on every side of this issue.
When I looked around at the men though, what I saw were people who have been told that they don’t matter. Every single Father’s Day there are women on Social Media saying they are Fathers to their children because they have kids with a deadbeat. Well, no matter how much of that is true, the fact is that you can’t ever be a father to your child. I know this because I have 4 children, one of them is an adult and has a Father shaped hole in his life even at the age of 22. He is taking his anger out on me for that hole since I am the one present to be angry at. I’m still here, even if it is to be the target of his angry, unlike his dads.
And maybe he has the right to be angry at me. I am the one who picked the men that ended up letting him down time after time. But the truth is that this world tells men that they are not needed. Women say that we can do everything without them, including being fathers to our children when we know for a fact that isn’t true.
I watched my kids wait by doors for their dads. I held them in my arms as they cried and asked where their dads were. I have had to scramble to pay the light bill by working 16 hour days that left my children feeling abandoned by both parents. I know that I didn’t even begin to fill the absence of their father in their lives. Not because I lack some kind of superpower but because it is impossible to be anyone but myself. A mother and father are two distinct people in a child’s life. I had a hard enough time being their mother much less be their father too.
Why wouldn’t men abandon their children when everyone tells them that they are not even important? When their dignity as men and fathers is stripped from them except when it comes to their money? When they are reduced down to the wages that can be garnished from their checks and if they work more, they get more taken and then they have even less time to spend with their children? Why wouldn’t they hate everything about being a father?I know that I’m a woman and should be talking about how awful deadbeat dads are, but in my 22 years of being a mother, I have learned that time with fathers is more valuable to children than any amount of money given in child support. Good mothers should know that, but I didn’t. I just followed the crowd that told me that I was boss bitch for doing it all alone. That was a lie. I was tired, exhausted, heartbroken and my children suffered for that. They had everything material wise, but they lacked time with their dads and that was something that I couldn’t see when I was angry and bitter.
Men do have a responsibility to support their children, but the truth is that a lot of times those child support checks do not go towards the care of the children because there is absolutely no regulation making sure that they do. I know, I get child support and nobody ever questions what I spend that money on.
We live in a culture that has stripped away the dignity of fatherhood. How do we restore it? I believe the first step would be for women to honor fathers on Father’s Day. Even if your child’s father is a deadbeat, find a man who is a good father and honor him.
Until we recognize that by dissing men on Father’s day we only add to the problem of fathers walking away from their children, we can’t start to fix the problem. Child support court isn’t the solution. Putting men in jail for not paying their child support isn’t the solution. Alienating kids from their fathers isn’t the solution. Making single mothers seem like the ideal thing to be because they are super heroes isn’t a solution. Honoring men who are good fathers and helping those men who have no idea how to parent their children are solutions. Healing the wounds left by absent fathers is a solution.
We have a Fatherhood crisis, how are we going to help fix it because plenty of us help contribute to it.
*I’m closing the combox because I will be spending the weekend loving my husband who is a great father to my kids and his own and have no interest in having a bunch of people tell me how horrible I am for this post. Email me or share this with all your friends to discuss what a traitor to my gender I am.