Forget Child Support, Dads; Your Kids Just Want You

Writer Eva Haldane and her father in 1983 (courtesy of Eva Haldane)
Writer Eva Haldane and her father in 1983 (courtesy of Eva Haldane)

A man's role as provider is ingrained into American society, but Columbia University doctoral student Eva Haldane writes at Parlour magazine that, whether or not they receive child support, kids usually just want to hang out with their dads.

To all the fathers who don't live with their kids; your kids don't care if you pay child support, they just want to spend time with you. Men get caught up in being a provider and forget that it's more important to be there for their children as a supportive role model. Fathers must get over their egos. Your child is not going to remember whether you bought them a Tickle Me Elmo, but they will remember when you didn't come to their basketball game, which was free. …

Americans should stop acting like the single parent family isn't increasingly becoming normal and problematic. If research shows that kids who don't grow up with both parents are more likely to drop out of school, have risky sex, not make any money and have multiple children, then we need to take this phenomenon seriously.

When I worked at Columbia Professor Ronald Mincey's Center for Research on Fathers, Children and Family Well-Being, I analyzed surveys about child support completed by nonresident fathers. None of those men wrote 'I don't like my kid,' they usually wrote they weren't around because they didn't have any money or didn't get along with their child's mother. Still, the kid almost always thinks there's something they can do to bring their father back or fix that relationship. That's frustrating because it seems simple to spend time with your child but the 'I have to be a provider' idea starts so early in young men that its tough to break. Recently, I interviewed male college sophomores and they were already saying 'I have to take care of my family' though they were students with no income.


Read Eva Haldane's entire article at Parlour magazine.

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