This term has become commonly used both by laymen and by the judicial system. It commonly refers to the parent who is not contributing monetarily to their child’s custodial parent. It’s true there are many men and some women out there who feel that the rules don’t apply to them; but there are some justifiably who cannot afford to pay child support in the conventional sense. Perhaps they give when they have it or actively share in the extra expenses. I don’t know and it would be presumptuous of me to assume that I have all the answers. There is one thing that I know…the deadbeat parent is not necessarily a parent who doesn’t pay….what about the parent who pays but doesn’t bother to involve themself in their child’s life because they’re simply too busy or too enmeshed in their own lives? Would this terminology not apply to them as well. I, too well, know the long-term effects of emotional abuse. The abandonment and games that are played are simply a few more issues that play on the psyches of these children. How do they deal with the parent who simply does not have the time or inclination to be a part of their lives? I saw the effect that it had on my daughter each and every day as she was growing into the amazing (and grounded) young lady that she is today. I saw the hurt look when she would wait for the phone calls that wouldn’t come on her birthday or some other major event. I saw the hurt in her eyes when she would look out at a school concert when her father was a no-show after telling her he’d be there. I felt her pain when all she was looking for was a male figure to toss a ball around in the backyard and he had dropped in for a few minutes only to have his cell phone ring and he’d be off again. A few instances of this are acceptable and I explained them to her. Lives get busy and challenging for adults who are balancing work and other factors. BUT, several years of this is unacceptable. Gone are the days when I urge her to pick up the phone and call her dad. If she thinks of it and wants to call, the phone is there for her purposes as well as ours. The plain and simple truth of the matter is that she doesn’t pick up the phone or make an extra effort in regards to her father. Why is that? Could it be the end result of too many years and too many milestones where she looked to her father for emotional support and he just wasn’t there or making himself available for her needs? I think so. We, as humans, have a shut-down mechanism in our brains. When we perceive a threat or indifference; we have a lovely thing that gets triggered in our minds. You’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight” theory. His indifference has manifested itself in our daughter as indifference. What the long-term effects are, who knows? I do know that there are trust issues that will have to be addressed as part of her healing. Thankfully, she has had many positive male role models in her life. Ones that do NOT abandon her. That has been a saving grace for both her and I. Her step-dad is the type of individual who goes to her sporting events (her father has been welcomed and provided a list of all games since god-know-when), tosses a ball around in the backyard and helps her fix anything from a school project to her bicycle tire.
My ex, all the while claiming that “he won’t be a deadbeat dad”, has assumed no responsibility for the emotional well-being of his daughter. I ask you again to re-visit the terminology. I know many a dad separated from the mother who work very hard to not only give whatever they can give monetarily but emotionally as well. Maybe sometimes they’re late with payments or you hit a rough patch, but these guys are at the school concerts, major events and birthdays giving whatever support they can give. I think that we have to, in our minds, re-define this term. In my eyes, it’s the whole ball of wax. Honesty, trust and respect. Any relationship deserves it and so do your children!
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