Why do Drop-In Dads Drop Out?

long distance parentingI was talking with a gal earlier this afternoon about single parenting and the involvement of both parents after a divorce. In my case, my ex and I are both quite involved in our children’s lives and regularly communicate about medical, sports, school and many other issues. For me, that’s the norm.

Other single parents I know have a different arrangement, however, where one parent is the decision maker, while the other parent occasionally adds their two cents. Or doesn’t: In at least one case I know, it’s the Mom who makes 100% of the decisions and the Dad agrees with everything, and in another case the Dad is so far out of the loop he lives in another state and sees his child sporadically, at best.

But back to the gal in the café, because it was a situation similar to the latter that she started sharing with me. Her ex lives almost 90min away and shows up in the children’s lives randomly, sometimes two weekends in a row and other times two months without a visit.

What most surprised me, however, was when she stated that it had been that way when they were married: He just did his own thing and even when they lived in the same house, he’d constantly be gone for business, leaving her flying solo with the children.

Her response to the situation is one every parent will understand: She took a deep breath and got on with the job of raising their children. And eventually she realized he wasn’t really adding anything to the family other than money in the bank.

What I cannot fathom is why a man would do that in the first place. Yes, there’s the 50’s “I work more to provide more to show my love” mentality, and I quite understand the mom vs. dad tension that leaves many men in a disadvantaged position, unsure of themselves in the parental role and told again and again how they’re “doing it wrong” because they aren’t doing it the way the child’s mother would, but even with all that, to bail on your children because it’s hard?

What gives, guys?

I’d really like to hear from some fathers who have ended up in this sort of situation, or have consciously chosen to extricate themselves from their children’s lives. What caused you to make that decision, and what consequences do you think it’ll have on your kid’s childhoods and, eventually, their own expectations of both motherhood and fatherhood?

Me? I just don’t get it.

2 comments on “Why do Drop-In Dads Drop Out?

  1. Wish I could help Dave, but I’m at least as involved as you. I know some less involved dads, but none that are low or no involvement.

  2. I wonder sometimes if it’s out of sight, out of mind. Or the ex makes contact so painful that they just extricate themselves from the situation. If you try to call the kids) and you have to get through being bitched at for X minutes, then I guess you’re not apt to call often. Much less see the kids.

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