So I’ve been recently touched by a situation that has really hit home for me and reminded me of a few things I get frustrated with or that are important to me and my priorities in life.
Hopefully most of you will understand what I am saying isn’t directed at any one person in my life, but has been something I have witnessed in others lives as well as my own.
I’m jumping right into the fire with the subject of deadbeat parents. Yup, I’m going there.
Now before we get too far into this I want to explain what I consider is the definition of a deadbeat parent, because I truly feel that most people relate the term “deadbeat” to a father who doesn’t take care of the monetary needs of their child. I realize this is the standard definition, but for me, deadbeat has more depth and emotion behind it.
Allow me to explain. A parent should be someone who is there in a child’s life through up’s and down’s, happiness and sadness, good times and bad. The idea of being a parent, whether by choice of accidentally becoming one, once vested into a child, should be like a marriage. You are hereby tied to said child for life. Not until 18 and that’s it, but through graduation, marriage, grandchildren, hardships and days of glory. This is a life long commitment.
Divorce from your spouse doesn’t take away your responsibility to that child emotionally, monetarily and spiritually. Not wanting to deal with your spouse does not give you the right to just ignore the situation and be vacant because it is easier than coping and (excuse the gendered term because this goes both ways) manning up!
Remarrying does not mean you get a gigantic do-over that allows you to walk away from one life and into another. Your child deserves you there as if you were still living in the same house full-time and as if nothing in this world, not your new spouse, or any children or family they bring along, is more important than them! Your child didn’t chose you as a parent and your child certainly didn’t say, “hey mom, dad, could you hate each other and end up divorced so my life is torn to shreds and I can watch the turmoil of you fighting for the remainder of my 18 years of adolescence. That’d be great, thanks!”
Now this is also not for me to judge anyone based on what the courts decided they could have for time with their child. If you are a parent who ended up with the standard parenting time of every other weekend and some breaks, plus your 6 weeks of summer, and you do exactly that, without hesitation or cancellation, I’m not talking about you. I know the court system sucks, and the way we have to conform to a “parenting plan” isn’t the best answer for the emotional well-being of parents or children involved, however, it is normally a standard separation of time, putting the child’s school and standard schedule as a priority.
If you are however a parent who has scheduled time, and chooses to do other things instead of spending time with your child, I AM talking about you. If you think you can call in sick on your child, I AM talking about you. If you think working on your buddies car is more important than the time with your kids, I AM talking about you. If your party plans take priority to your child, you bet you ass I AM talking about you. If your work schedule interferes with your children, start looking for another damn job, or work with your Ex in order to facilitate equal visitation with your child(ren). This whole I have to work to pay my child support therefore I can’t see you is not acceptable. There are plenty of jobs out there, find another!
Now with that being said, some of you are piping up as you read this, getting frustrated or angry because you feel your Ex controls the situation too much, won’t work with you to change the schedule or is “raking you over the coals” with child support which makes it impossible for you to take time of with the kids. I would like to visit these issues too.
Let me preface this next portion with the monetary issue and get that out of the way. You mated and created your child, your responsibility. Court systems have decent calculations to make it fair and you have a right to challenge things if feel it is too much for your income. If the court keeps things at the same monetary amount, then that’s what you should be paying.
Stop whining and take care of business. For the full-time parent receiving support, you too made this child and took on responsibility. If the child is in your full-time care, and you find yourself not getting support, that child still has to be cared for. Yes it sucks, but you made the same choices, and what if your Ex was suddenly passed, it’s all on you. So while it sucks, stop whining and take care of business, and BTW, feel proud and strong for doing it, because you should!
Now with that out of the way, if you are the primary child care provider and you are with your kids 12 of 14 days straight like a typical parenting plan sets, don’t be a control freak. Work with your Ex. Let me remind you, this isn’t about you and the inconvenience to you. This is about your kid! Being the full-time parent, I know full well there were times I couldn’t make the adjustment happen, and I’m not talking about that, nor am I talking about a parent who doesn’t do their part to do what it takes to see their kids. Your Ex is grown and yes, he/she should step up and provide transportation for the child’s visitation and do his/her part to get the child to or from points of visitation. I’m saying, if your Ex calls and says, hey, I got my schedule and I’m off Thursday and Friday instead of Saturday and Sunday, can I have the kids a couple of days early work with them as long as the children to school. Or if your Ex says, “hey the family is having this special event, I know it isn’t my weekend, but if you don’t have plans could I take the kids to it,” be thankful it is offered! Your kids deserve that family interaction (assuming it is healthy).
So many times as hurt divorced adults we allow our anger and emotions control how we behave regarding our children. Your child is an innocent party who just wants to be with both of you and feeds off the anger and hurt that you are both feeling. Buck up, raise that chin, put on a smile and work together to give the child what he/she needs.
Now, there are those of you sitting back going, “hey you don’t know anything, my Ex is a drug addict, there are reasons I control things.” Listen, whatever the reason is, if the children aren’t safe with their other parent, and that does sadly happen, I’m NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU. If there was a restraining order, or not contact order due to violence, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU.
I’m truly talking about those of us who are pretty normal and could spend time, but don’t spend the time. We all know that the every other weekend gig sucks, it’s not enough time. As the full-time parent, even I could accept that. My 11 year old child missed her father every day, and there was frustration from my side regarding the fact that he wouldn’t call her to see how her day was, or to wish her a goodnight. If it wasn’t his visitation day, he was too busy for her. As time went on this got worse and worse. Then he met someone and her world was more important than his child. Now he talks to our daughter maybe twice a year, maybe sees her for an hour. She’s not little anymore and has distanced herself because it hurts too much. One of my other kids (I have many community kids), has a parent who spends tons of money on nonsense, but never has the money or means to drive to pick them up. This leaves her feeling insignificant in her parents life… she has developed depression, anxiety and has crossed into self-mutilation because it gives her release from her pain. One of the two people in her life who should have been there at her side, simply had more fun, better things to do.
As a full-time parent, many of you will understand the joy of seeing so many monumental things happen in your child’s life, only to know that the other parent is in many cases, choosing to miss it. I remember being the sole person in my child’s life to share joyous triumphs or on the opposing end, the only shoulder she had to cry on. Even worse, to be that shoulder when her father let her down or hurt her again and again. We were supposed to both be her protectors from that pain, not the creators of it.
I remember once he argued with me about how close he was to her, while only seeing her once or twice a year. I sat back and thought (didn’t say even though I wanted to), “really, what’s her favorite band right now? Who is her best friend? She had something exciting happen last week, what was it? What was her grade in science?” Not one of which questions he could answer. I think about what he missed out on when she does something silly like crack a joke, or when she finds something that makes her giggle uncontrollably. I’m so thankful to see each and every silly moment or quirky behavior, or even her strong headed temper tantrums.
My perspective on these things is, well, just that, mine. I’m sure on some levels I will upset people by what I say, but I want to make something pretty clear, I’m not doing/saying any of this to upset anyone or target anyone. I’m merely attempting to make a point that there should be NOTHING in the world more important than your child or children. If you can look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself and say that you truly give your child your every ounce of being as best as you can, then maybe like me, you see others out there who frustrate you and could use some improvement.
No child should ever have to make the choice to distance themselves from their parent because it is less painful than seeing them. If your child is distancing themselves from you, you need a longer appointment with that mirror and a little truth serum.
Please feel free to comment and I will try to respond to any comments you might have. Lets keep the comments and conversation non-attacking and healthy. A good debate is very helpful, cruelty and harassment isn’t welcome.