web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Dead Beat Parents


Blended-Family-logo

Certainly most of us have heard the term “deadbeat-dad” used in relation to fathers who fail to be financially responsible for their children. There is also another type of “deadbeat- parent” (I prefer to use the word parent in an effort to avoid gender bias and with the understanding that this phenomenon can occur with mothers as well), and the phrase is used to depict parents who are emotionally unavailable or inattentive to their children’s emotional needs after the breakdown of their marriage.

A “deadbeat” is defined as someone who does not pay his or her debt – a loafer or lazy person; in general someone who does not meet their responsibilities. Now, responsibilities come in many forms. Raising children is a costly endeavor and being financially dependable is one of the main concerns we parents have. So many hours are dedicated to securing the fiscal needs of our families. After a divorce when financial burdens are increased, and there are additional debts from attorney and court fees, as well as the cost of dividing up a household and starting over, making ends meet can be overwhelming. Today, our court system views a large part of parental responsibility as being financially accountable to your children and providing for their basic needs – food and shelter, education and healthcare. If a parent falls behind in his or her child support obligations there are consequences, and if a parent fulfills his/her monetary requirements they are praised for being “responsible” and “caring” parents.

Well, what about those parents who meet their legally set forth financial obligations but not the emotional needs of their children; parents who do not go the extra mile necessary to ensure their child’s wellbeing, both physically and emotionally? According to the “law” these people are defined as good and responsible parents simply because they have found a way to support their children’s basic humanistic needs.  However, we cannot overlook the harm being caused their children – harm which is not only damaging but long-lasting.

As Torah-observant Jews we must keep in mind that the Torah way of parenting is not to think of our children as possessions that we own and are free to do with as we please. They are special gifts on loan to us from Hashem, from G-d, and we are responsible to raise and care for them, with His help. This means that children cannot be divided up like other assets during a divorce. They cannot be sold like a house or traded in like a car. We are responsible for them from the moment they arrive and, hopefully, throughout the rest of our lives.

Being parents of a blended family my husband and I have had “real life” experience with my children from my first marriage and his children from his first marriage. I have seen parents struggle and fight to stay connected and involved in their children’s lives and succeed in maintaining the loving, warm relationship that should exist between parent and child. I have also seen parents who unfortunately do not take their responsibilities and obligations to their children seriously. Parents who caused more harm than good in their too few, half-hearted attempts to stay connected, parents who continue to put their own needs above those of their children.

Divorce can add an almost insurmountable challenge for the non-custodial parent trying to stay involved in raising his/her children. If you and your ex-spouse had differing parenting styles when you were married, chances are you are not going to agree on how to raise your children post-divorce either. When there is a lack of good communication with the custodial parent, the non-custodial parent can feel out of sync with their children, making involvement that much harder. For some, the challenge may seem so great that the non-custodial parent will simply give up and move on with their lives.  They would rather leave their children behind instead of patiently staying the course until emotions settle and new norms emerge which would allow them a greater ability to play some role in their children’s lives. Often standing back and taking on a lesser position is the answer rather than putting the children in the middle of a chaotic situation.

Ultimately there are consequences for the emotionally deadbeat parent just as there are for financially deadbeat parent.  In fact the consequences are often greater and more life altering.  I know that my children from my first marriage unfortunately have had a roller coaster relationship with their father since our divorce. Years of disillusionment, broken promises, undelivered gifts, missed visits and false hopes of a true relationship have taken their toll. I wonder after each disappointment how long it will be before my children begin to believe again that next time will be different; that next time he will actually come through. We all would like to trust that his intentions are good, but there is never any follow through on his part; he is just not able to give them what should be their birthright. Fortunately, they have grown from the process of learning how to deal with their father and maybe those lessons are the best gift he has been able to give them.

In my humble opinion, if you cannot be a positive force and partner in raising your children, at the very least pledge that you will not cause any additional harm to them. Be true and honest regarding your limitations. Do not make promises you cannot keep and do not string the children along on false hopes. If you are unable to participate in raising your children, support those that are; that may prove to be the best contribution you are able to make for the welfare and wellbeing of your children.

At the end of the day the children will come to understand that each of the adults in their life was acting responsibly and participated to the best of their ability out of the deep love they felt for them. Choosing to play a less active role does not necessarily equal a less meaningful one; remember sometimes it is the small supportive characters that receive the greatest applause.

 

Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com 

About the Author: Yehudit welcomes and encourages input and feedback on issues relating to the Blended Family and can be reached at blendedfamily@aol.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Dead Beat Parents”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
A general view of the Bat Ain community at Gush Etzion.
US Pushes PA Agenda and Tells Israel to Cancel New Gush Etzion Town
Latest Sections Stories
LBJ-082914

What better proof do we need than the recent war with Hamas in Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” that transformed the pain and suffering of three families into a sense of unparalleled unity and outpouring of love of the entire nation of Israel?

Katzman-082914

So many families are mourning, and all along we mourned with them.

Astaire-082914

In addition to his great erudition, Rabi Akiva was known for his optimism.

Kupfer-082914-Chuppah

She told me that she was busy and that he could sit in his wet clothes for the rest of the day. It would teach him to be more careful.

What can we do to help him stop feeling so sad all the time?

Children with dyslexia or dysgraphia frequently have problems in social relationships.

Israel’s neighbors engaged in hostilities from the onset. The War of Independence was a hard-won battle. Aggression and enmity has followed for 66 years.

The contest will include student-created sculpture, computer graphic design, collage, videography, PowerPoint and painting.

David, an 8-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, recently attended a Friendship Circle event. As he entered he told his Dad, “I love coming to the FC programs ‘cause everyone loves each other.”

Goldsmith himself went on his own “voyage of discovery” to the places where his grandfather and uncle landed and were sent.

Frank proclaimed himself Zvi’s successor and the reincarnation of King David.

You’re probably wondering why the greatest advocate of fast and easy preps in the kitchen is talking about layer cakes, right?

Almost immediately the audience began singing and clapping and continued almost without stop throughout the rest of the concert.

As of late, vintage has definitely been in vogue in the Orthodox community.

More Articles from Yehudit Levinson
Blended-Family-logo

Since I did not know much about divorce in those years, I just assumed that this was the “norm.” I learned later on how exceptional this family really was.

Blended-Family-logo

Although my ex-husband was unable to attend we still wanted to include his family members who lived here is Israel and were very happy that we choose to do so for our son’s sake.

This particular article has been on my computer for quite some time now – incomplete. What compelled me to complete it was my son’s 19th birthday. Born of my first marriage and raised solely by my husband and me for the past seventeen-plus years, my son has only a few memories of time spent with his biological father. My children have made me acutely aware of Parental Disconnect issues. I hope that sharing my thoughts on it will help save others from the pain and confusion we have had to work through.

Family court, visitation and child support are all unavoidable realities for divorced parents. One particular rule that would be wise to heed is that child support should be less about dollars and cents and more about dollar and “good” sense.

Journaling, putting your feelings down on paper, is a well known method of coping with difficult or traumatic experiences. In fact there have been studies done that seem to prove that people who “journal” live happier, healthier lives. In his book Writing to Heal, James Pennebaker, Professor and Chair of the Psychology Department at the University of Texas at Austin, explores this concept. He stresses that when we write about trauma, emotional upheavals or difficult issues we are struggling with, the “heart rates slow, blood pressure drops and immune systems strengthen.”

In all honesty, I really do feel blessed. Interestingly though only someone in a family situation like mine could possibly comprehend this particular “blessing,” and many would not consider it a blessing at all. You see I feel fortunate to have not one, but two wonderful women in my life – both of whom happen to be my mothers-in-law, one from my first marriage and one from my second.

Recently a popular Jewish weekly magazine featured a story depicting the life of a young boy whose parents were divorced. Each parent had re-married, establishing new families. Their shared custody of this son, and he spent substantial time with each of his parent’s new families. Giving a voice to the child of divorce was the intention of the story. It highlighted the distress children feel as well as the confusing messages they often receive from the adults in their lives.

When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/dead-beat-parents/2011/11/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: