June 6, 2014 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
It’s still nine days until Fathers’ Day, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start disrespecting dads. Every year it’s the same thing. On Mothers’ Day, no amount of praise is sufficient to honor mothers and, of course that’s pretty much in the spirit of the day itself. The whole idea of Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day is that we honor the men and women who care for our children. All year long we take their work for granted, so we reserve one day to give Moms and Dads a verbal high-five.
That would be great except for the huge disparity in how mothers are treated on their day and how fathers fare on theirs. On the former, we never hear a discouraging word, and again, that’s as it should be. But when it’s dads’ turn to be acknowledged, about half the messages are negative and some of them are outright hostile. It’s far past time when we should have started treating mothers and fathers the same on their respective days. Our refusal to do so is yet more proof of the anti-father zeitgeist that’s proven so difficult to correct.
We all know that not all mothers are the saints they’re depicted to be on Mothers’ Day and fathers are no better. But we manage to overlook the fact on Mothers’ Day, so the least we can do is give Dad the same break.
Some men in central Pennsylvania are protesting a text message they received from a county agency urging them to celebrate Father’s Day by paying child support.
One recipient, Ricardo Reyes, tells the paper he was offended by the implication that all dads are deadbeat dads. Another, Jesse Mauss, says it also implies that fathers are only good for money and no other parental responsibilities. Both say they are up to date on payments.
Agency director Theresa Gross says the message wasn’t meant to offend but was an effort to use innovative ways to encourage child support payments and was intended for people who are behind.
Both Reyes and Mauss are right. To be told by an utterly impersonal text message that the way to celebrate your special day is to pay money to the woman who likely divorced you is outrageous. To send the same message to all fathers whether they owe support or not is all the worse. And of course Mauss hits the nail on the head. Even on Fathers’ Day, when family and loved ones are meant to give Dad gifts and treat him specially, he’s got to be reminded that, whatever he thinks of himself, the government thinks of him as a source of cash. Nice.
One wonders whether the same message was texted to all mothers in the area on Mothers’ Day. After all, scarce as they are, some mothers don’t have custody of their kids, so why not? As long as we’re being rude and belittling to one sex, why not the other?
Perhaps it’s because non-custodial mothers are a lot more likely to pay their child support than are dads. Nope. Actually the opposite is true. Not only are non-custodial mothers barely half as likely to be ordered to pay support (28.8% of non-custodial mothers vs. 54% of NC fathers), and they’re ordered to pay less, they’re still less likely than are dads to pay what they owe. According to the latest figures from the Census Bureau, fathers pay on average about 63.1% of what they owe while mothers pay 54.5% of their child support obligations.
So by rights, central Pennsylvania mothers should have gotten the same message before their day as dads did before theirs. If anything, it should have been more strongly worded. But of course they didn’t. The zeitgeist doesn’t include the concept that mothers should be judged by the same standards to which we hold fathers. That’s true not only of child support, but of parenting, visitation, domestic violence and the like.
So to all the dads out there, Happy Deadbeats’ Day! We don’t care how loving you are toward your kids; we don’t care how depressed you are at only being able to see them 14% of the time. We don’t care that the judge set the child support amount at a level you can’t pay. We don’t care that Mom denies you even the meager visitation the judge gave you. In fact, even though we say we want you to support your kids, just to make sure you didn’t miss the message, we’re going to pretend you didn’t pay even when you did. The message of course being, as Jesse Mauss understood all too well, that you’re a wallet. Cease the flow of cash and, in our opinion, you’re as well off dead.
It’s just our little way of celebrating your day. We thought you’d like to know.
National Parents Organization is a Shared Parenting Organization
National Parents Organization is a non-profit that educates the public, families, educators, and legislators about the importance of shared parenting and how it can reduce conflict in children, parents, and extended families. Along with Shared Parenting we advocate for fair Child Support and Alimony Legislation. Want to get involved? Here’s how:
Together, we can drive home the family, child development, social and national benefits of shared parenting, and fair child support and alimony. Thank you for your activism.
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