We are all familiar with the image of an irresponsible father – the one that is all too happy to forget about his old family after the divorce and would avoid paying child support given half a chance. But what about another situation – when a previously loving and caring father cuts all ties with his children after the divorce?
He goes on paying child support without a hitch and sends his kids Christmas presents, but otherwise is virtually non-existent in their lives? This phenomenon is much more widespread than one may believe and has even earned a popular nickname of a Ghost Dad Phenomenon.
But why does it happen? Of course, each situation is unique, but there are major principles according to which they develop. Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons fathers abandon children after divorce.
6 Reasons Fathers Abandon Their Children After Divorce
1. Feelings of Loss
It may sound counter-intuitive, but quite often the main reason why a father in a role of a non-custodial parent chooses to fade away from the lives of their children is the feeling of loss that is exacerbated by occasional visits. When one gets to encounter physical representations of what has been lost, it suddenly gets much harder to deal with the issue than when they exist elsewhere out of sight.
2. Shame and Discomfort
Divorce is a painful and destructive procedure, often resulting in bitterness, especially if parents separate on unfriendly terms. Divorce is perceived as a major failure by society, and every new contact reminds the father of that failure, which may be made even harder by a number of additional circumstances: mother’s disparaging remarks about the father, especially in front of the children, presence of a stepfather virtually replacing the father in children’s lives, supposed court bias toward mothers, never-ending battles over child support and child custody. All this creates a situation in which the father feels that it would be much better to provide for the children at a distance.
And now for something completely different and quite mundane. Divorce means that parents go their separate ways, and may end up in completely different places. No matter how much a father loves his children, he usually cannot afford to allow his entire life to revolve around them. He is supposed to have the best job he can find and look for better opportunities to improve his own life. When a father ends up in a different state, it gets quite hard to maintain regular contact. It may sound like a trivial a reason to check out of a child’s life, but then, most reasons are.
4. They Want Nothing to Do with Their Former Wives
When parents no longer live together, sharing custody of their children requires extreme levels of cooperation and mutual trust. Unfortunately, these are often in short supply with people who, most likely, just emerged from a legal battle and are still resentful towards each other. As a result, seeing their children while at the same time having to interact with their ex-wives causes some Dads to check out of what they feel is conflict that just isn’t worth it.
5. Law Makes It Difficult for Them to Perform Meaningful Parenting Roles
A non-custodial parent, by definition, has a very limited impact on the life of a child. Usual visitation arrangements being something like one evening a week and alternating weekends means that the father is no longer a parent per se, but rather a visitor. He doesn’t take part in routine activities of his child, the law removes his parental authority if he doesn’t fight for his right to parent his children and forces him into a position of an entertainer rather than a parent – which is unfulfilling both for the father and the child.
6. They Define Their Parenting Role in Economic Terms
Especially if prior to divorce the father in question considered his main purpose as a parent to be that of a provider for the family. Such fathers tend to compare themselves to “deadbeat” fathers who don’t pay child support and don’t care about their children at all. Rather than seeing their own lack of contact with their children as a departure from what is normal, they perceive themselves as doing better than the majority of divorced fathers and are content to define their participation in financial terms.
Of course, each particular case has its own distinctive features, and no two scenarios are the same. However, it is important to understand the other side of the argument – and these are the reasons that most often that men check out of their children’s lives.
FAQs About Divorced Dads Who Abandon Children:
What is a ghost dad phenomenon?
Ghost dad means a father, who doesn’t meet his children after abandoning them, but keeps paying child support and sending Christmas presents uninterrupted.
Why is my father afraid of visiting me?
Why your father is afraid of visiting you may relate to the peculiar circumstances of your relationship or the relationship of your mother with your father. However, many fathers do not visit their children because it exacerbates the feelings of loss when they see them. Children become physical representation of what has been lost in divorce for many fathers, and they avoid coming face to face with them.
What keeps fathers from visiting children?
Your father may not be visiting you because of the stigma attached to divorce. People perceive divorce as a failure and your father may be reminded of this whenever he visits you. Fathers are also known not to visit their children because of mother’s sarcastic remarks against them in front of stepfathers, custody battles over child support and child custody, etc.
Do fathers stop visiting children after divorce because of their jobs?
Yes, jobs do play an important role in keeping fathers away from children after divorce as the former try to make life better in search of greener pastures. Visiting children after divorce become more difficult when fathers are required to move to another state because of a better job opportunity. It may sound like a trivial reason to check out of a child’s life, but then, most reasons are.
Does my father not visit me because of my mother?
It’s possible that your father doesn’t visit you because he finds it difficult to face your mother after a bitter divorce battle. Parenting after divorce requires a great deal of cooperation and trust, which, unfortunately, is scarce among former spouses emerging from bitter divorce battles.
Do non-custodial fathers abandon their children?
Non-custodial fathers may not abandon their children, but law limits their role to visitations to an evening a week or alternating weekends. Unless a father fights his way to becoming a more active parent, he will end up confining his role as an entertainer rather than a parent.