I recently happened on a debate raging in some social media groups about the appropriateness or even legality of allowing a father who is not financially responsible for his children’s welfare access to them. The key word here is “financially responsible”.
Most women that contributed to the arguments, especially those in situations where the father has declined to provide for his children even after pronouncements by a court of law were adamant in their position that he should be refused access.
The stories from most of these women are painful to read and understand. It is quite difficult to understand why some men will turn their backs on the children they sired, why they will refuse to have a relationship with them or close their eyes to the sufferings of these children mainly because of problems with their mothers. They want to make the mothers suffer in every possible way by burdening her with the responsibilities of nurturing and caring for the children, knowing that she cannot turn her back on them.
I know of a man who reported his wife to her employer for engaging in side jobs she was doing to augment her salary, when he refused to pay school fees and maintenance for their children even though he could well afford to do so.
It is natural when you hear such stories, to absolve the mother from any wrongdoing when she denies the father access to his children, after all, if the child is not well taken care of, he or she will not be alive for the father to have access to. I understand the anger women feel when they see the man waltzing around town obviously enjoying himself, free from the burdens of taking care of the children, the injustice they experience knowing that they can’t afford to turn a blind eye to the needs of the children and behave like the father especially since the children live with them
As I said, the emotions are very understandable but the questions to ask are what gives a father the right of access to his children and what makes a woman abrogate to herself the decision as to whether or not a man can acess his children?
In answering the first question, I believe that a man’s right to his children stems from the fact of fatherhood itself and not that he is financially responsible. He is called father because he fathered the children and that fact alone gives him a right to be involved in his children’s life. This is the reason why the courts do not hesitate to share custody of the children between spouses or award visitation rights when a marriage breaks down because, the Law recognizes the right of the father to be present in the lives of his children and the right of the children to have their both parents play an active role in their lives.
The answer to the second question I believe, stems from the fact that most women think that if they are carrying all or most of the burden of nurturing the child, they have the right to choose who has access to the child. For some it’s the fact that some fathers are not only irresponsible financially but also emotionally and they want to spare the children such pain like; missed pickups, visits and promises wrought in the child who looks forward to a father that never shows up or makes good on his word.
For those women who think that because he is not financially responsible he has no part in the child, please be aware that It is generally agreed by psychologists that children need both parents in their lives and that to deny anyone of them access to the child is detrimental to the wellbeing of that child.
The truth is that no matter how deadbeat a father is, he is still the father of the child and the child has need of him in his/her life. Women tend to think we are all our children need and that if we play the part of mother and father ( most often we think in terms of the financial only for fathers) our children will have no need for their father’s input in their lives. But such thinking is a fallacy and that’s why even though women do all they can to lessen the impact of the absence of a father in their children’s lives, those children either sneak off to know their fathers whilst they are under your roof or wait till they are grown and you can’t do anything about it.
For those who want to shield their children from the emotional pain of an irresponsible father, I understand the pain you feel when you watch the children suffer yet from another broken promise but please know that no matter how painful it is for them especially as they become older, they need to come to the decision themselves that they don’t want anything to do with their father. It’s not a decision you can make for them except if the emotional abuse becomes overwhelming and if you make that decision prematurely they are likely to misunderstand the rationale behind it until they grow up and sometimes by then your relationship with them may have suffered much harm.
The relationship you have with your spouse is different from that with your child and both relationships can run parallel to each other. Children will never understand why a quarrel between their parents will jeopardize the relationship they have with any one of their parent and it is selfish when parents think only of the pain they are feeling rather than the child’s pain at being left out from the parent’s life. No amount of apologies can buy back lost years, memories or opportunities when one is grown up.