By definition, the term "deadbeat dad*" is a noun that refers to a father that does not fulfill his obligation to provide financial support for his children. However, there is much more to a deadbeat dad than just money.

Deadbeat dad can almost be classified as a catch phrase. As the statistical amount of divorces accrue, so do the numbers of absentee fathers. Many children grow up with extreme emotional and behavior problems due to their lack of a father. Sixty-three percent of youth suicides occur in households where fathers were not present. Fatherless homes also account for 90% of runaway children, 85% of children with behavior problems, 71% of high school dropouts, 85% of youths in prison, and more than half of teen mothers.

Deadbeat dads don't come to pick up their kids on Friday night and keep them for the weekend. They don't order pizza and play monopoly. They don't take the kids to the park on Sunday afternoon. Deadbeat dads don't invite their children to meet their new fiance before their wedding. Deadbeat dads don't send child support checks on time, if even at all. Deadbeat dads abandon their children. Deadbeat dads are not there. It is like not having a father at all. Deadbeat dads do not claim any responsibility to their children. Deadbeat dads are sperm doners.

In Americana, when you're young, mom and dad are superheros. As a father, you look to provide for your children in the best way possible. You generally look forward to teaching your sons about baseball and keeping all the teenage boys away from your daughter. As a mother, you look out for what's best for your children. You bake cookies and go to soccer games.

Increasingly, in real life, when you're young, you listen to mom and dad fighting downstairs. As a father, you don't come around much. When you are around, you're picking up more of your clothes that you left there or turning in a child support check. As a mother, you struggle to bring enough money to support your family while still making sure everyone gets to school on time and stays out of trouble.

I'm not saying that every divorced father is a deadbeat dad. I personally know many fathers who stay in good contact with their children and take care of them as if nothing ever changed. I also know of several deadbeat moms and know that the roles can be reversed. The situations I have used here are based on stereotypes and statistics.

*Deadbeat Dad as defined by and WordNet 1.6.

Statistics provided by