Awhile ago I was upset sensing the hurt of a woman that was suffering the events in her life she cant control. I’m sure I’ll step on some toes in the process. I usually do. Frankly, I don’t care this time. Dads need to stop leaving their kids, and I’m tired of men not being the ones to say it. I’m tired of the world tip-toeing around these guys’ feelings. I’m really tired of society acting like such behavior is now “normal” or “expected”. I’m tired of the media making light of it. I’m tired of the emails and comments from endless mothers who’ve been thrown under the bus. More than anything, I’m tired of dads not taking their responsibilities and duties seriously. So I decided that even if it costs me some dollar. I am going to try to help someone find her “smile”
As far as I can tell, there are three kinds of dads who willingly “leave” their kids.
The first simply leaves. He packs up, he walks away, and he wants nothing to do with his child or his child’s mother.
This man is not a man at all. He is a coward. He is a lazy and an ignorant little child who cares nothing for those whom he has been enlisted to provide for and protect. His self-centeredness and narcissism rank him among the most selfish human beings on the planet. He is a quitter, a deserter, and a weakling.
Sadly, he’ll never fully realize what he left behind. His own rationalizations and reasoning blind him to anything but a life of justification and attempts to forget his wrongful deed. He’ll never know of the hundreds of Saturday morning snuggles that could have been his. He’ll never know of the hundreds of colorful drawings his child would have handed him over the years, made with tiny loving hands just for him. He’ll never realize that he left behind so many trips to the park or the zoo. He’ll never know of the camping trips, fishing excursions and soccer games that without doubt would have filled him so much happiness. He’ll never realize that his self-absorption caused him to leave behind every bedtime story, pancake breakfast, bike ride, and tuck-in.
Even more sadly, he’ll never realize that he left behind a tiny person that would have looked at him as his hero. He’ll never know that he left a child who would have trusted him and loved him more than any other person reasonably should. And he’ll also never know that he left a child who would have done anything to be like him. To be like her daddy.
He’ll never understand or take responsibility for the giant hole in his child’s heart that will never be patched. He’ll never understand the anger and tears that his child will experience as he tries to comprehend a father that would vanish, and without sensible explanation. He’ll also never understand just how much harder his child’s life is going to be because of his absence.
No, fathers like this never realize, understand, or comprehend any of it. They can’t. A person can’t miss what they don’t know they never had.
Maybe it’s wrong of me, but I have neither room in my heart, nor in my ability to understand these types of men. I have no compassion for them. In my best attempts to fathom their decisions, I have only found anger.
But there is another kind of father who leaves as well. This dad leaves in disguise. He works to make it appear that he’s not leaving at all. He, like that first man, cloaks himself in rationalization and reasoning. He shows up just often enough to pull off his ruse, and he goes to bed each night feeling good about himself as the dad that he thinks himself to be. This second type is the divorced dad who by choice becomes nothing more than a weekend or a summer dad.
I cannot comprehend fathers that do this. I don’t understand how they can be okay with their choices, and I don’t understand how they can be okay offering such trace amounts of time and support to their children.
A dad like this is okay being a dad every other weekend and a couple weeks every summer. He’s okay spending such minimal and limited time with his child. He’s okay letting his child’s mother do the vast majority of the raising, and he is often okay watching another man step into the picture and be the dominant father figure for his own children.
He doesn’t fight to constantly be with and near his child. He doesn’t fight to be a real dad to his child. He doesn’t really fight at all.Though, he probably claims that he does. He probably spends a lot of wasteful hours telling the people in his life that he did and is doing everything he can for his child. He probably has painted a picture so pretty that even he has started to believe it.
Many of these dads hide behind phone calls and text messages to their kids. They believe that a quick check-in every so often is sufficient enough to brand themselves as “there”. They lie to themselves, they lie to others, and they lie to their kids.
Many of these dads can be wrapped under the label of Disneyland Dads. They have their children so infrequently, that when they do, it’s nothing but fun and revelry. These dads really never parent at all. A dad like this convinces himself that as long as his kid is spoiled and happy when she leaves, he’s a good dad. He’s doing his duty. After all, his kid loves him.
Real divorced dads don’t do that. Sure they find ways to do all of the things Disneyland Dads do, but they also understand how important it is to be there as often as they possibly can. They understand that their kids need their fathers’ examples and discipline. They understand the unbalance that happens when their child is fatherless most of the time.
These dads, these real dads, they fight for their children.
They are not content simply stepping to the side during a divorce. They do whatever they must in order to maintain their parental rights. They fight every battle that needs fighting, and they spend every penny that needs spending, even if it means putting themselves into a momentary financial nosedive. Real dads make their kids the prioritizing factor in every decision they make. They make sure that nothing and nobody takes precedence over their children. If needs be, they give up careers, homes, and dreams to be where there child is. They do it, and they do it at any cost.
You see, they know the crucial role they play in their children’s lives. They know that nothing is more important than their children growing up with a fighting chance at life. They know that divorce has already stripped their children of countless fundamental necessities. They know that the reality of a broken home is a greatly lowered potential and ability for future success. So, real divorced dads do something about it.
They make sure they’re there, and they make sure they’re good men. They make sure they get equal amounts of time with their kids. These real dads are never satisfied with anything less. They never settle. They never cave-in.
And as much as they understand the role that a good father must play, they also understand the vital role of a good mother. They understand the nurturing and the emotional support good mothers will give. They understand the soft shoulders that their children will need to cry on sometimes. They do everything they can to support the mother of their children, and to encourage love and respect for her.
And let’s be clear about something. Real divorced dads never get caught up in parent-bashing with their children. Ever.
And, while they are simultaneously fighting for their share of their children’s lives, they never try to take a child away from a good mother. They don’t fight so hard that their children miss out on the balance that having a good mother will always offer them. They are invested in the health and development of their children, and they know that Mom is a vital part of that.
These real dads also never shirk their duties. They don’t skip out on child support payments or constantly find ways to get out of “their turn” with the kids. A man who does this is barely better than the self-centered deserter that walks away completely. He makes the mother of his child spend far too much time and money collecting child support or forcing him to spend time with his kid. He feels safe in the fact that she usually won’t have the time or the money. He is a selfish ass who in my opinion doesn’t deserve to be in his child’s life.
And strangely enough there is a third dad who leaves as well. He is the father who somehow leaves without ever leaving at all. He is the dad who leaves while he is married and present in his family’s life. He has no intentions of ever physically walking away, and why would he? Life is “good” for dads like this. They are content. They are fine.
Personally, I believe a married man has the ability to abandon his family just as easily as a divorced dad or a deserter dad does, and from what I have seen, such an occurrence isn’t exactly rare in our society.
These dads check-out mentally. They begin putting the bulk of their priorities on everything but their children. They leave the burden of their entire families’ routines on the mothers, whether it be getting the kids up and dressed, helping them with their homework, going to parent teacher conferences, or enforcing discipline. They don’t feel the slightest twinge of guilt as they sit happily in their apathy. And what’s worse, they often have no clue that they’re even doing it.
These dads find their children to be wasteful nuisances; pesky flies that are theirs for the swatting. These dads rarely speak kind words or use soft hands. They constantly gripe about their kids not being good enough, their kids not being smart enough, and their kids not being quick enough. They turn their children into wageless employees who are expected to be at Daddy’s beckoned call, or suffer the consequences. These dads are rarely appreciative of anything, and the power of praise is a at best a foreign concept to them.
There is no place for men like this in an improving society. There is no place for men who are found sitting in boats fishing, trying to perfect their bowling hooks, or swinging their new set of golf clubs with far more frequency than they can be found sitting at family dinner or helping their children build birdhouses.
Just like their abandoning equivalents, these men are not real men, and they certainly aren’t real fathers. They are selfish and weak. They are arrogant, coarse, and crude. They crush both the hearts of their wives and the hearts of their children, and they don’t give a damn that they’re doing it.
Real married dads, on the other hand, have no part of such horse manure. The very thought of ignoring, abandoning, or loathing their children pains and sickens them. The mere mention of a business trip or being gone away from home troubles them. They take no joy in the difficulties that their absence will place on their counterparts, and when they do leave, they count down the days to their return. Real married dads aren’t just there physically; they’re there mentally and emotionally. Period.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a married dad who leaves, a divorced dad who leaves, or some guy who had a fling with Mom. The truths of leaving remain. The greatest moments of life will be altogether missed and dismissed when a man does.
A divorced dad who leaves will miss out on the trust that is built when he is actually there playing the role of father instead of friend. He’ll miss the daily stories and struggles that his child will bring home and recount. He’ll miss the nightly bear hugs before bed, and the heart to heart talks of which he could have been an integral part.
A married dad who leaves will miss out on the thrill of being a true teammate with his child’s mom. He’ll miss out on the affection and appreciation that would have been his. He also misses out on almost everything the deserting father misses out on. The only difference is that his child sleeps in the next room.
It really doesn’t matter which kind of dad a man is if he leaves. It’s all the same. It’s all tragic, and it’s all wrong. It’s a man’s refusal to put God’s greatest gift before himself. It’s indolence at its finest. And it has to stop.
It’s time we stand up and demand more of the fathers of this world. It’s time we stop buying into their rationalizations and their sorry explanations. It’s time we give our kids a fighting chance.
Why is this not the number one topic being discussed in this world? Good fathers, and by that I mean real fathers who are there, have the ability to change almost every social problem we now find ourselves facing. I’d be assumptive enough to say that there isn’t a single type of crime or a single problem so big that it couldn’t be fixed or wiped out if fathers would just step up.
Hopefully, if you’re one of these dads, it’s not too late to be that real dad. I pray to God it’s not because your kids need you. Fight for them, dads. Give up everything for them if you must. Just be there. And do it now.
If you are reading this, feeling angry or saddened because you yourself have abandoned your child, do yourself the greatest favor you ever will, and assume that someday there still can be a place for you at the foot of your child’s bed. The road back to trust might be impossible. But, it might not be. Not if you make yourself a truly good man first. You’ll never know if you don’t try. And, try you must, even if that trust is never to be yours again.
If you are reading this and you are no longer able or allowed to have a part of your child’s life because of court orders or criminal activity, I pray to God that you spend the rest of your life demanding that other men step-up so that they never have to walk through the hell you now face. Think of the good you could do.
And if you are a mom who has watched your child’s father leave, my heart goes out to you. I also pray that you had no part in it. I pray that you didn’t make it impossible for him while he was there. I pray that you didn’t try and force him to live up to impossible expectations. And, I pray that if he is a good man and he wants to be there in his child’s life that you love your child enough to let him. Even if that seems impossible to you.
I’ll discuss more of that in an upcoming post. I believe a few more dads would stick around if we can all be real about how some good dads are pushed until they give up. Damn it, moms. If you want the father around… if you want him to really be there for you and your kids… you’re going to have to let him. You’re going to have to make some things possible. You’re going to have to let go of your pride and fight for it as much as he does. And dads, if you want the mothers of your children to want you around, you have to earn it. You have to be there. You have to be good men. How tragic is it any time an era of trust ends between two parents! How heartwrenching is it every time a man who was once thought to be a good man suddenly becomes an abhorrence or a plague to his family! How calamitous is it when men simply give up or take the easy way out!Married… divorced… separated… never together… what does any relationship status have to do with a man’s parental duty? Once you’re a father, you’re always a father. There is no you in the formula of life anymore. There is always at least one other person standing beside you in that equation. Always. Own that. And never leave that behind.
PS. I understand that there are millions of different and complex situations. I understand that this couldn’t possibly apply to every one of them. I understand that mothers leave their children too. I understand that some parents are dangerous and must be allowed no part of their children. I understand that some women have booted their man to the curb with every good reason she needs. I hope it goes without saying that this post is not about those men or those situations. This post is about men who have every possibility and potential to stay in their children’s lives, but for some selfish reason they don’t. That’s all. For them I have no feelings.