Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Few Thoughts on False Fathers

Hirudo medicinalis. Leeches for bloodlettingImage via WikipediaPerhaps I'm going out on a limb here, but what kind of man, one who presumably sees himself as a good and decent man of values, purposely plays with the emotional well being of a child? How does a man bear a child, shirk the responsibilities of raising that child at every opportunity, yet still somehow feel that they deserve, have in some way earned, the right to be called Daddy.

This is not an indictment of the broken home or of single parents, attempting to do their best to raise their children in less than the optimum situation. I am not one of those who believe that a single home devoid of love and filled with hostility and resentment is better than two homes filled with caring and emotionally grounded adults. Anybody who claims to have a handle on what the ideal family should look like is full of shit and arrogance.

What irks me are these Reserve Fathers, these selfish bastards that feel enough of a responsibility that they show up every other weekend and take their kid out for a day, give them an afternoon of fun and frolicking and look how good of a dad I am happy times, just in time to drop them off at home so the single mother can spend another two weeks raising them and disciplining them and struggling to maintain a household on their own, filling in the gaps between brief Super Father appearances with all of the tough decisions and personal dedication that real parenting involves.

Or even worse, these men who leave and raise new families, and instead of simply cutting ties with the young child they left behind and letting them find a new father to care for them, stringing them along with monthly or bi-monthly visits. Or even worse, having them come and stay with Daddy's "Real" Family for a week or two every year, showering them with all the love and affection they can muster for the child's short visit before sending them off to live with their mother again. These selfish bastards spend just enough time with their semi-abandoned to forge a familial bond that will prevent them from ever letting another man into their life as a nurturing parental figure, then avoid any of the real responsibilities that come with being a Father in any real sense of the word. They can't bear the thought of their child calling another man "Daddy," but they can't be bothered to devote as much energy to the role that the poor kid devotes to loving this shadowing figure of a former roommate they still think of as Dad.

These are not fathers. They are not men. They are leeches, sucking a feeling of importance and purpose out of their child's desperate need to be loved by their father, showing up like strung out junkies for a quick fix of a child's admiration and love whenever they feel the compulsion, then abandoning the child for lengthy amounts of time so emotional instabilities and uncertainties that will plague them for decades can firmly affix themselves to their innocent spirits. They are soulless leeches, sucking the life from a childhood that she be filled with affection and love at all times, not played with occasionally like a semi-amusing toy. I personally have more respect for the men who cut all ties and move on, who at least comes to terms and owns his complete lack of commitment instead of stringing the kid along out of a desperate need to feel wanted.

The ultimate insult, what truly separates these so-called men from anything resembling compassionate humanity, is that their infrequent visits and random bursts of attention don't reel these children who shouldn't know better. Instead, the infrequency of their visits and parental presence gives them an enigmatic aura, elevating their importance in the eyes the child so that they actually become more emblematic of a love-worthy parent than the mother struggling to raise the child virtually on her own, the only real assistance being child support that this Super Dad wouldn't even bother to pay if the government weren't somehow involved in the transaction.

If you're a father of a child that you only see every other weekend or twice a year when you fly them in for holidays, and you feel that I've been unfair to your side of the situation, save your time and don't complain to me. I could care less if your pride is injured. Take the time to call your kid and explain to them why you still deserve to be called "Daddy" when you aren't there to fix their breakfast every morning, help them with their homework, or put them to bed every night. Better yet, stop calling the kid all together, and stop giving them the false hope that you actually care about them enough to sacrifice anything other than a few calling plan minutes and an occasional day off.

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