Let me start with this, for years I covered for my ex-husband. I made excuses for him and sugar coated everything for my kids. After all he is their daddy!! But eventually I got bitter. I got tired of lying to my kids in the hope that he would eventually see the error of his ways and change. I got tired of them thinking he was a super-hero and I was the mean parent that made them do their homework, eat their veggies, brush their teeth and go to bed on time. I wanted them to know that I was the super-hero!!
So here we go. Notice I said parents, not just dads? There are deadbeat moms out there too. There are so many factors that can put a parent into the deadbeat category (whether you live w/ your kids or not). I'm going to try to keep this as neutral as possible. The purpose of this post is not to vent or attack anyone. My hope is that people will read this and open their eyes, see it from a new perspective and maybe make some changes in their own relationships with their children. Here are the factors I've come up with: (they all kinda tie in together)
There's the obvious one, money or lack there of. When you are blessed with the honor of being someone's parent, you're also being granted the responsibility of providing for them; putting their needs ahead of your own. Your hobbies, vices and other wants get put on a back burner.
Learning to make sacrifices for the well being of your kids is one of those hard lessons, especially if you're already a generally selfish person. There are financial sacrifices as well as social, personal and professional. For example, I quit smoking. This falls into several categories. Sure I needed to quit for my health, but I also wanted to set a good example for my kids. I wish I could say I have piles of extra money just laying around because of it, but I can't. What I can say is, now when the girls need a new pair of shoes or supplies for a big project...I don't have to say "we'll go get them when I get paid."
Children should always be able to depend on their parents. As mommies and daddies, we should be the last ones to ever disappoint our babies if we can help it. They are going to have plenty of disappointments in life that we can't spare them from. Sure, there are gonna be times when things happen that are out of our control, but teach your children that it's important to keep promises. One of my favorite sayings is "Say what you mean and do what you say." Don't say what you think I want to hear just to make me happy for now, if you don't intend to follow through.
There is no such thing as a part-time parent. Just because you may only get your kids every other weekend, does not mean you're off duty the rest of the time. Don't think that just because it's Christmas, it's your right to spend time with your kids even though you've maybe been too busy for them the rest of the year...whether you were working or hunting or playing ball or hanging out at the lake. Be a consistent presence in your kid's lives.
Make time for your kids. If they play sports, make the effort to get to their games. If they dance or sing in the chorus, show up for their performances. As they get older, they're going to be less and less interested in spending time with you. Take advantage while you can. And once they are older and you see them less and less, make occasional dates to just grab a burger and hang out for a little while. If you've remarried or have more kids, make sure your kids still know that they're important!!
Just because they're kids, doesn't mean they don't have feelings and don't deserve respect. In every decision I make, I think about how it's going to effect my children. I consider what kind of example I'm setting for them. Would I want them to make the same choice when they're adults? Dependability, sacrifice and consistency are all related to respect too...and honesty. As they get older, you lying to them or making false promises is more of a slap in the face than you might realize. If you choose to put yourself in a bad situation, think about how your kids might feel or if you'd want them to think it's okay to be in that same situation. Once you get past the selfish part, it's really quite simple.
Your children learn a majority from your example. If you have a bad attitude about something or suffer from road rage, chances are they will too. If you make terrible financial choices, it's likely they will too. If you're kind and thoughtful, hopefully they will be too. In order to raise your children to be responsible adults, first you have to be responsible yourself. Part of being responsible is making the right choices, especially when they're hard choices and not the choice you want. Does this make sense?
Simply existing in your child's life does NOT count as parenting!! Spend quality time with your kids. You watching t.v. downstairs while they're playing on the computer upstairs is NOT spending time together. You dropping them off and picking them up after their basketball game is NOT being an active parent! Stay for the game...cheer them on!! So whether you're the primary parent or not...make sure you're actively participating in your kid's lives!!!