Let’s Give Dads a Break!

Best Dad ribbonThe third Sunday in June is observed in many countries as Father’s Day. Other nations choose a different time of year. Whenever and wherever possible, we honor fathers and their contributions to family life. They work their tails off to provide for the wife and kids, and often the extended family, too.

In some cultures in the U.S., fathers are conspicuously absent from the home and shirk their responsibilities. Or they may have died, too often from service to their country. Men who have tried valiantly to be father substitutes are rightly given respect in their place.

Religious and other leaders of many persuasions decry the absence of the father and their failure in homes because of it. Yet few recognize the long list of reasons why Dads can’t always be there.

Obviously, there are scumbags who don’t know the difference between creating a child and being man enough to be a father to him or her. Stupid and/or criminal behavior, drugs and other addictions can take a father out of the lives of his wife and children. And so can illnesses. But what of the wife who hasn’t been faithful? Should the husband have to support children he knows are not his? Apparently, some courts in the land think he should. So the husbands run and keep running.

A few men stay in the home to protect the innocent child from the stigma of being illegitimate but they are few in number and have no obligation to do so. In today’s world, a huge number of births – more than 40% in the U.S. – are out of wedlock anyway. (Recent numbers for the U.S. can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.) And then the mother gets pregnant again with some other man’s child. Time for the husband to leave? Probably so, unless he’s a glutton for punishment.

Of course, deadbeat dads should pay their reasonable child support obligations. Yet, one of the more ridiculous laws in many states is that of taking away a man’s driver’s license and even his vehicle, when he falls behind on child support payments. How that helps his children is beyond my ability to fathom!! If a man has neither the means nor the legal ability to drive a vehicle, just how is he supposed to get to his job that is usually a great distance away from where he’s able to find a room to rent. Public transportation in this country still stinks! And few men are healthy enough to ride a bicycle 30 to 40 miles each way for a job! Every day.

Fortunately, my husband never missed a child support payment, not ever. I know because I’m the one who wrote the check every month for 12 years, and before I met him, he had kept his record of money orders sent to his “ex”. He had no control over how the money was spent. He only had the legal obligation to make the payments.

A frequent reason a divorced father may be “absent from the home” is having to move to remain employed. Sometimes that can mean moving hundreds of miles away, and then spending every vacation and major holiday driving down to see the kids, or having someone drive them up during summer vacation. At least until their mother moves the family hundreds of miles in the opposite direction to follow a new job herself. Some routines just can’t be continued when that happens.

We honor our fathers in many ways. They’re not perfect men and are frequently just doing the best they can to love their kids and provide for them. Their hearts break more often than their children ever realize, sometimes fatally. Some Dads are there for every broken bone and failed class in school but not all men have that privilege.

There are so many reasons we need to give Dads a break!

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