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Real Dads Don’t Leave

[sigh] Today is another Single Dad Ranting post.

I am admittedly very upset right now over a heated conversation that just took place, and I don’t know where else to release that steam. 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.

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 boy 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 his 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 fathers. 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 okayletting 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 realdad 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…

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1831 comments
Karen Whitaker
Karen Whitaker

According to the U.S. Census Bureau Out of 12.2 million single parent families in 2012, more than 80% were headed by single mothers.

Sophia Ava
Sophia Ava

hello Dearest I'm Sophia new to this Facebook Stuff and want the best out of it. I am 28years old ,single and never been married.looking for long time relationship that can lead to marriage...you can add me up

Mindful Dad
Mindful Dad

I'm the dad in the picture, with the makeup all over my face, and I run a blog called Mindful Dad, where I write about how to be present for our children today, to make memories to last a lifetime. Stop on by and check it out!

Brooke Abernethy Schwartz
Brooke Abernethy Schwartz

Thank you for this. And, sadly, mothers do it too (more often than I dreamed possible). So let's think of it as "Real Dads and Moms Don't Leave" and leave it at that. Other than that, it's beautifully written and thank you for being the kind of dad that every child deserves.

KD MacDonald
KD MacDonald

That's why I can't be friend with my bio-dad. For a quarter of a century, I chased after him, trying to get any sign that he could ever learn to love me (and my brothers and my mom). So I gave up on him and went on with my life. When I first became a mom, he suddenly decided that he wanted to be part of my life -- and was surprised when i told him that I didn't consider him my "REAL DAD", and that a far better man than himself (namely, my grandfather) had stepped in on the day I was born, to fill that spot that my bio-dad had walked away from. My grandfather had always wanted to raise a daughter but had never been blessed with that opportunity until his son threw away that opportunity.

joepublicva
joepublicva

Momof5greatkids ur situation is probably rare. Wats not rare is no one stands up for the under served parent that want involvement in their children's lives. Ie when the Kennedy was simply taking his baby from a hospital....where were those pro-parent movements. I hav distain for the meaningless pomp of those espousing one virtue and secretly pushing a hidden agenda......MANIPULATIVE HYPOCRITES and their secret lives.

momof5greatkids
momof5greatkids

My sons father is the first one , once he found i was pregnant he hit the high road , and now my son is 16 and has never met his father and he paid $14 a month in support for 13 years and now i am finally getting more that i fought in courts for 2 years , jumping forward my first marriage that man walked out on my 2 daughters when they were 2 and 4 and now they are 12 and 14 and I get zero support and he is useless , being single for 6 years I met my husband we have been together for almost 10 years and he is the last one , he is incredible he loves my kids more then anything and will do anything for them ,we have twin girls together and he cant stand being away from any of them longer then a day , he lives and breathes these kids and I am so happy to have him in my life , he is in my opinion the best father in the world :)

Julie Tran
Julie Tran

My ex-husband is a 'Disneyland dad'. He fights for extra time when it's convenient for him and spends that time visiting McDonalds, buying toys, and playing. He's fun dad and I've accepted the role as possible 'mean' mom because I want her to learn and grow. I can't give her everything she wants, but I can give her everything she needs. For her sake, I hope he grows into your version of a real dad someday.

joepublicva
joepublicva

Well ms. Hurt bc he cheated......perhaps the relationship was hanging on by a thread. If there were warning sign the the marriage was in peril perhaps that was the time to fix the marriage or realize that its not gonna get better. So the make it worse by blaming the father for moving on and punishing him by not facilitating ur child's relationship w him places most of the blame on the angry custodial parent.....nothing wrong w being hurt...its what u do bc of it that determine the true parent.

Mercedes Alarcon
Mercedes Alarcon

there are good dads in the world, unfortunately most of those leaving are men. i m glad to know many of you

Roz Jensen
Roz Jensen

A father shouldn't have to FIGHT to see his children. How often do you hear about a mother having to FIGHT just to be part of their child's life? The reality for many men is that the BEST they can hope for (if they have thousands of dollars to pour into the court system) is equal time with their child. For mothers, that is often the WORST case scenario. And if a man gets behind on child support, there are free agencies in every state to help the mother get that child support - as there should be. But why then, should a man who is being denied his court ordered parent time have to again spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to have an order that already guarantees him the time he is being denied enforced? Shouldn't there be a free state agency for that, as well? Isn't the emotional support of time spent with both involved parents every bit as important as financial support? Write an article on that, Dan.

teener
teener

My ex kind of falls into the divorced dad category even though we were never married. It was very refreshing to hear you call out other so called "dads" on their BS!!

My first sons father was very controlling and abusive towards me. I chose to leave him while my son was only a couple months old. I did end up having a restraining order for my safety and sanity but I told him he could always have supervised visits by a third party. Well long story short I met my now husband who has been there for my son since he was a baby (we were good friends). After we were married my husband petitioned to adopt my son. My ex fought it doing the whole "I was ripped off I love my son" song and dance when the truth is he never even tried to see him once in 5 years! We ended up settling on a open adoption where he was allowed 2 visits a year by letter, phone, or supervised visit. I had to track him down so my son could meet him. He then continued to shirk his responsibilities by cancelling meetings for no good reason and then moved a state away without so much of a phone call. He has now moved back and wants to be apart of his life after causing him so much pain and that is a very hard pill for me to swallow. I set up a meeting for him myself and husband to be on the same page and he proceeded to be a complete drunk the night before and not show up the day of our meeting. My son was yet again heart broke when he didn't show up and now I am DONE!! I pray that I am doing the right thing. I pray I am able to forgive him for all the hurt he has caused but I just cant keep letting him hurt my son. My son will be 13 this April and he has never once even called or sent a birthday card. He still claims he loves my son and wants to be in his life. He tells me he is so thankful for my husband stepping in for him while he couldn't be there?? I don't understand why he could never be there for my son! That was his choice and I don't get! On a happier note my husband has always loved my son as his own and Austin has always known him as Dad. He is a loving, kind, caring man who is always there for his children. He has been involved in ever aspect of all of our children's lives and I am so happy and blessed. I thank God for giving me the man who was willing and more than happy to be Austin's forever Dad. My son has a man who treats his wife and kids with love and respect. He can show him how to be a real man. He teaches our children the love of God and what it means to be a father, husband, son, and friend. I pray that my son will not have spot in his heart that is empty because of his bio dad. I pray that his Dad has given him enough love for him to know that he is worth a fathers love and the only person who missed out is the bio dad. I was young and dumb and put myself in a bad situation and I pray that my son will not always feel the pain from my mistakes!!

Tammy Appleby Fulk
Tammy Appleby Fulk

i used to beg and cry for my ex to come visit my son( my ex rarely visited or called). i call our son...MY son ...cause i raised him alone i had no emotional or physical help from my ex (and very little help from my family) my ex claimed he "he did his part when he paid child support". needless to say my son hates his father . my son is 26yrs old and and grew to be a wonderful young man....i am proud of who he grew to be.

AnuRose
AnuRose

My dad was sadly Dad #3.  The hardest part was that he prioritized alcohol over his family.  It pains me to think of all the memories I have that are so negative -- and negative because my dad was drunk, or stayed at the bar until way too late.  Or being told there's no money for college when he had spent tens and tens (possibly upwards of hundreds) of thousands of dollars on booze alone over the years.  Physical and mental scars that won't ever fully heal that my father has no memory of because he was drunk at the time.

Sue Ann Rogers Roberson
Sue Ann Rogers Roberson

My kids Dad is a Disneyland Dad I feel sad for him he has no idea how much he is missing out on watching them perform and shine and he won't go because it's too far or not his weekend your loss buddy these girls are amazing

Linds
Linds

  I love this. I could read it over and over again.

My Dad was a Dad who was always at work, and absent that way. After my parents eventually divorced when I was ten it only took three more years for him to leave the country with his new girlfriend because "my Mom was too much and he thought if he left it would make things easier". I don't care how many excuses any Mom or Dad has for leaving..you left and I am so happy someone is speaking out about this. There is too many people worried about stepping on some "Moms/Dads" toes to hurt their feelings people often forget how much of a loss the child feels. I really wish more people would step up and speak about this.


"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 his 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"

That right there, says more then I ever thought anyone who hadn’t had a parent leave them could understand.

Jamie Prescott
Jamie Prescott

Sometimes dads don't have a choice to be around or not. This post is ridiculous. All your posts are. You realize who your audience is right? This isn't a page to build up dads like you portray. Its a place for you to act like you are better then everyone. You obviously have no idea how hard some of is "single" father's work to maintain the relationship we have with our kids. The funny thing is my daughters mother turned me on to you. I don't usually take the time to posts when something bothers me like this I usually just unfollow the page. But this time I think I'll do both. Do yourself a favor and be a man and stop bashing others who don't live up to your parenting expectations. There are skeletons in everyone's closet......even if they have a blog for the world to see and have the appearance of self proclaimed transparency.

Masha Bizjak
Masha Bizjak

That was beautiful. Really. And for those who ask "what about mothers that leave? Or mothers that won't let fathers see their children?". I think this post was about both, mothers and fathers. He was just writing from his perspective, as a father. But there are also mothers that leave, mothers that give up. They are the same as those fathers Dan is talking about.

Ben Hodgens
Ben Hodgens

If only I could be there myself; the courts seem determined to keep bad parents present, even when the detriment is greater than the benefit for the children.

Naomi Plomp
Naomi Plomp

This post got me to tears.. One week before my Bday, 2 weeks before my fathers. He just tried to connect via (yet another) Facebook profile, probably just noticed I booted him off. April, the time of year to get in contact. And it hurts. It hurts so much, I realized last year I need him as much out of my life as I can endure. I have always longed for him, his presence, only realizing at 35 what kind of dad he actually is (half a #2, pun intended). Now I just need to figure out how not to let this spoil the fun of my Bday but I'm not sure if I can make that happen.

hannah_p
hannah_p

Jami Lewis (below) has it 100% right. Don't be naïve enough to believe the ex never makes these situations what they are. How many husbands are begging for more time with their kids? We asked THREE WEEKS ago for some time with his boys over Easter... and now we wait. And wait. Such a crock.

Jacqueline Eberli
Jacqueline Eberli

My parents divorced when I was young and I am blessed that my Dad fought for us, always came for us when we needed him, taught us, was there for us. Thank you for including the fathers that check out while still married because I think there are men like my uncle who do that and somehow escape the negativity that has been thrown at my father over the years.

Larry Nicolaides
Larry Nicolaides

He can go on like a mister know it all sometimes, like take a walk it the auto parts or something.

Amy Stewart Brower
Amy Stewart Brower

Thank you for reposting this - unfortunately it's true for both men & women. I know a few single dads that are major superstars!!! They definitely deserve the recognition!

Heather Holland
Heather Holland

My mom was sick when I was little so I was raised by my dad. He was awesome - wish there were more like him. He painted nails and taught me how to fish :)

Peggy Ress
Peggy Ress

I almost never comment on here, but had to with this post. Thank you for discussing a topic that needs to be addressed, but is often swept under the table, because it is so painful to talk about. My ex has had no communication with our son in almost 4 years.....how do I explin that to my precious, wonderful dude? Some days, all I can do is hug him and cry. I will never, ever understand.

Craig R Harper Jr.
Craig R Harper Jr.

I wish more people understood that mothers are doing the same damn thing. My soon to be ex wife up and left our daughter (3) and myself to be able to do what she wants when she wants. Today marks a month of her not living in the same household or even offering to help out. Just visitation when it's convenient for her.

Jena Dunnahoe Brown
Jena Dunnahoe Brown

Sums it up in our case. Disneyland dad all he way. I know a lot of wonderful dads, for sure. Dated one. But my ex, ugh. He has so many chances and just blows them. For his friends, for drinking, for his girlfriend. Pathetic.

Don Collett
Don Collett

James, we're in the same club. My ex left me and the kids eight years ago. One's now grown and married, the other is in his junior year in high school. It's been very, very hard at times, but I would never have abandoned them.

Amanda Fox Fillmore
Amanda Fox Fillmore

I don't think there is such a thing as usually. I think the scale would be pretty level. I am not spiteful. I have returned child support so that he would have money to take them. He fights addiction, however, he has been sober going on 6+ months, got baptized a few weeks ago, and yet still cannot be bothered to pick up the phone and call his kids. When he sees them it is because I call and say, "Your kids are asking to see you." Then he may take them for a night. Once every few months. He couldn't take them this weekend so he came by to visit for a little bit and that was a big step up for him to even bother. He lives with his mother and her husband and often shoves the blame off on them. She is busy. He is in a bad mood. What does that have to do with YOU taking YOUR kids?? He got custody of his youngest son (not mine) after that child's mother went AWOL herself with addiction and abusive boyfriend issues. My problem is if you have your 3 year old son, why not let the 8 year old son hang out too?? My daughter, 7, doesn't really seem to care. She misses him sometimes, but she also cries for a hamster she accidentally killed 5 years ago. Our divorce was final when she was less than a year old. This is her normal. I am so glad Dan has reminded me again my kids deserve better and I shouldn't give up. I think I will print Dan's article and mail it. Thank you, Dan, for sticking up for my kids since NO ONE ELSE WILL.

Doug Bird
Doug Bird

I spent every penny I had. I live in a town where I have few friends. My childrens mother put me through hell in many ways. ~ We have lazy days at the beach. Read silly books at the library. We sleep in a pile and dance the jerk to The Feelies. ~ I would do it all again and again to see my three childrens smiles and squish their breath out with my hugs. I wish that every child had a father who adored them as they should.

Brittany Ritenburg
Brittany Ritenburg

Dan, I've read this post at least twice before and again today. Each time it makes me feel sickened and sad but humble at the same time. I think a huge part of this is a society issue and society must change before this improves. I agree with so much in your post. Thanks for sharing again!

Lawry Miller
Lawry Miller

Was going to share this post until it hammered Dads like myself who do weekends and dinner during the week because 50% is logistically and finically impossible and ex would fight it all the way in court for no good reason. This post has left me angry as I have shed many tears, lost much sleep and regretted so deeply ever walking out that door in the first instance. Walk a mile in my shoes and it will wipe that self righteous smile off your face. Really pissed off.

Strong Without Him
Strong Without Him

My sperm donor as my Mamma, my Step Mama and I call him now was a divorce dad. The only reason I say him when I was younger was because of my Step Mama. She tried to get him to care and it never worked. When I got older and visited his house it was to see my little brothers and Step Mama. I didn't care if he was their or not. But I watched him with them and he was the "Dad that was their but wasn't". Now my brothers are going through divorce Dad and one doesn't see him for what he is, but one does.

Now he wants to be in my life... I have no place for him anymore. I have told him so. He never truly cared about me. I just pray he doesn't do the same thing to his new wife and step son that he has done and is doing to the families before her.

Brad Timmons
Brad Timmons

I am a lucky one to have custody of my kids, but recently got out of a relationship that lasted a lil over 3yrs, she was pregnant when we met.. I helped raise her son, loved him as my own, still do. He called me daddy, and I considered him my son. Not being blood though, I have no rights, I've asked for visitation, like trips to the park or ice cream.. But she isn't going for it, this has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to accept. I can only hope she finds someone that loves him as much as I do. And pray for her and him!!

rilbrianne
rilbrianne

@joepublicva It's not rare. It happens every day. Men who want to be involved and deserve to be involved are the rarity. (IE: not alcoholic, abusive, or trying to play good dad so their new girlfriend won't know how much of a piece of crap they really are.)  If you are going to marry her and have children with her, at least put some effort into the relationship or leave before you damage her and your children. 

momof5greatkids
momof5greatkids

Listen I never put my info up to be attacked all I was posting my situation at certain points in my life and how I met a wonderful man that adopted and accepts my kids because if the type of men their real fathers were ,I made no personal attacks on anyone except the 2 men involved so please don't assume I am catagorizing all men !

rilbrianne
rilbrianne

@momof5greatkids I hear you.  My 2 daughters (just under 2 and 4 at the time) were awarded $66/month total.  That would have paid for their diapers and preschool snacks.  And we get labeled as being pathetic because we are single mothers. Infuriating.

joepublicva
joepublicva

@rilbrianne @joepublicva  I noted this " or trying to play good dad so their new girlfriend won't know how much of a piece of crap they really are". Its sounds like shame and guilt on the part this absent parent.  All kinds of emotions become exaggerated in these moments which is y i commend any parent (custodial or not) that make fair-minded decisions. 


My ex 20 yrs ago said and did horrible things and as a result my relationship w my child has been destroyed.  Noted too is the family court in Queens NY were parties to this sham.  Outing the bad parent is as important as outing the bad judge.


Re my earlier post.....I was on a subway train yrs ago and a dad turned toward two passengers who was sitting next to his child and lambasted them for the type of degrading language being used while the child listened.  The two conversationalist were not backing down until I, sitting across from them, yelled w a stern voice that he (the dad) was correct in defending his childs and y would u continue using that language.  I didnt kno either party and it may have been none of my business, but my feeling is wrong-doers continue doin wrong if society never challenges them on their conduct.....they will cease, find another avenue, or resist. WHO, IN ALL OF THESE POSTINGS, WOULD STAND UP FOR PARENTS W/O HAVING AN ANGLE OF THEIR OWN TO PROMOTE?


joepublicva
joepublicva

@rilbrianne @joepublicva  I noted this " or trying to play good dad so their new girlfriend won't know how much of a piece of crap they really are". Its sounds like shame and guilt on the part this absent parent.  All kinds of emotions become exaggerated in these moments which is y i commend any parent (custodial or not) that make fair-minded decisions. 


My ex 20 yrs ago said and did horrible things and as a result my relationship w my child has been destroyed.  Noted too is the family court in Queens NY were parties to this sham.  Outing the bad parent is as important as outing the bad judge.

joepublicva
joepublicva

@momof5greatkids The attack was not on u.  I've seen many pro-parent movements and none were jolted into action during the many high profile parental issues. Keep reading the past nuances of the publisher of this site and the supporters of his narrow perspective and his tangent issue.  Its a ploy and he is selling ad space $$$.  Despicable....and i hope he reads this post.  He's promoting him not a cause for non-custodial parents.  Read on to ur own dismay at irresponsible pseudo journalism or undefined advocacy.


There r parents on both sides of the parental custodial issue that make the best choice their situation allows....they should be commended.  Where r the supporters, the advocates, the just pissed off that run to the aid of those fair-mind parents?  This site, as w many others, fail.