Elite Deadbeat Dads

Thanks to Court TV, most of use can define the term “Deadbeat Dad.” We know the dismal reality that over 50% of single moms do not receive the financial support they are owed by their children’s fathers. Our country is united in the belief that fathers must support their children, financially at least.


However, there is another kind of deadbeat dad that doesn’t get the seamy TV coverage.  In fact, our country tends to glorify these fathers.  They hide in plain view as our neighbors, husbands, fathers and idols. We elect them as presidents of our country and cheer for them on football fields and basketball courts. They run our major corporations. 


I’m talking about Elite Deadbeat Dads. When you picture a deadbeat dad, it’s pretty rare that your imagination puts him in a suit and tie.  These fathers ooze money, and are much sought after as husbands because they are so-called “good providers.”  True enough they have money -- but on the time and attention scale, they shortchange and sometimes cripple their children and wives emotionally in ways that are just as serious as scofflaws who disdain caring for their offspring financially.


Let me clarify before the Stay-at-Home Dad movement eggs my house: I’m talking about SOME dads. Certainly not all of them.  Men, in general, are becoming more and more responsible to their children with every generation.  Dads today spend more than three times as much time with their children on a daily basis as their own fathers did, according to University of Maryland time-diary research.


And of course, there are Elite Deadbeat Moms as well, wealthy women who neglect their children because of work or social ambitions, and wound their children with voluntary inattention.  (Although most of our country’s most illustrious working moms, women such as Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman, either had no children or only had one child.) But for the most part, the perpetrators here are men who, in my view, could take the gift of fatherhood more seriously, to everyone’s benefit.


I have a mom-friend whose husband leaves their home every morning before their three children wake up - because he needs to get in a quick work out to stay fit and alert before hitting his law firm desk by 7:30 a.m.  He rarely gets home before 9:30 p.m. and he travels every week.  She works full time too.  They had to hire a special AM nanny to help get the kids ready for school, because my friend was running herself ragged getting herself ready for work and three kids to three different schools by herself five days a week. This employee works every weekday from 6 a.m. - 9 a.m. and then comes back on the clock at 3 p.m. when the schools let out. 


Fortunately this couple has the money to hire help - but I wonder if their children would agree on the “fortunately.” I bet they’d rather see their dad in the mornings instead of someone paid to pour their Cheerios, even if that meant a smaller house, car, and college fund.  Any kid will tell you that money is no substitute for love.



I married one of these guys. Two years after the kids came, we both had full-time jobs, but he was always at work, the gym, the home office, etc. He saw the kids on the weekends. Wondered why I was always tired or too busy to be supportive of his "needs," to not understand the time he needed to fulfill his dreams.

Post-divorce, I am still tired all the time and crazy-busy, but I figure the kids see their dad about the same amount of time they would have if we'd stayed married, and I don't have to spend my time taking care of him as well as them. I also don't have to listen to people telling me what a great dad he is anymore. Works for me.