Hey dads — why don’t you see your kids?


By far, the most popular post I wrote on WealthySingleMommy in 2015 was January’s The real reason your ex doesn’t see your kids.

The reaction to the post highlighted what a devastating issue of absentee fathers we face in the United States. I am ashamed to admit how eye-opening the comments and shares were. Living in progressive New York City where my own hyper-left social circle is, increasingly made up of untraditional families, nearly all of whom include very involved fathers, including my own ex.

A bubble I live in. And the stats support my naiveté: According to Pew Research, nearly half of fathers who live apart from their kids see their children “several times per year” or less. Just 22 percent visit their kids more than once per week. That, in my book, means that 78 percent of dads who do not live with their kids qualify as absentee fathers.

I hear often from mothers who parent children with uninvolved dads their explanation of the men’s absence. These include mental health and addiction issues, incarceration, being selfish jerks, remarrying controlling/jealous women, blame of the mother for keeping the kids away/ turning them against the dad, inability to deal with responsibilities, and so on.

But I want to hear from dads: If you are not regularly involved with their children’s lives: Why? I want to understand. I will not judge you. I just want to hear your side. Please share in the comments. 



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14 thoughts on “Hey dads — why don’t you see your kids?

  1. My boyfriend only sees his daughter a couple times a year, and although I wish it were more, I understand why. When he was 19, the girl he had been with throughout high school became pregnant shortly after he discovered she had been cheating on him. Although he did not want the child, she thought it was a sign they were meant to be together. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, and he was miserable. He tried to be involved in her life for her first two years, but he became extremely depressed and suicidal, knowing he was missing out on his own dreams and experiences (and trying to coparent was an painful reminder of the betrayal). As a woman who doesn’t want children anytime soon, I understand this and empathize. If it had happened to me, I would have had an abortion, because I have a choice. He didn’t. I know her cares for his daughter, but he cares for his freedom even more. Women simply can’t be forced into that situation, and sometimes men can and are. I would be miserable if someone forced me to have a child I wasn’t ready to have, especially as a teenager. Perhaps this falls under the “inability to be responsible,” but surely it’s understandable to a degree. So often we are quick to point out the gender stereotypes than women face, and inarguably they are more frequent and difficult to overcome. But isn’t the idea that he should just “man up” and “do what’s right” subjecting him to the same imprisonment of gender roles that women have been trying to break?

    1. You offer an interesting perspective on your boyfriend’s experience. Thank you for your insight

  2. My son’s father didn’t want to comment personally, but allowed me to comment for him. He states one reason only, and it has nothing to do with our son. His reason was: “It’s too hard to see you (being me, the mother) when we hand our son off. Even seeing him reminds me of you so I would just rather not do it.” I don’t think this is necessarily true of the majority, but may be true for a minority of dads where relationships did not end with a clean break. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Sorry, I’m not a dude, but I’ve heard their BS stories on this one. I just wrote a post about my top three warning signs to run from the relationship, and this is #1: If your guy has accepted that he just won’t see his child, ask yourself how much he’ll prioritize a child he has with you. And then run, don’t walk, the other way.

  4. For most of my daughter’s life I have been an active and involved father. But a couple of years ago her mother and I seperated and eventually filed for divorce. A process, unfortunately, that is still ongoing for almost 3 years now. Even though I managed to maintain an active relationship with my daughter through out the seperation and impending divorce she is now starting to distance herself from me and resists spending much time with me unless she has to. She just turned 13, so I suspect much of this is due to being just a teenager, but even though I have 50/50 custody my soon-to-be-ex regulary flaunts the court order and unless I want to make big scene or fight it in court there’s not much I can do about it. It doesn’t help that my daughter is more or less okay with staying with her mom and not me and isn’t really making much of an effort to spend time with me. So I’m left with trying fight the battle because legally I’m in right and just create more stress, more drama and more confrontation, or just letting it go for now with hopes that the situation changes in the future when my daughter is more open to spending time with me. So in answer to your question, contrary to common belief, sometimes the choice of being the ‘absantee father’ is not an intentional one.

    1. Interesting perspective. And I agree that a lot of these situations are simply about kids being kids, teens being teens, and people wanting simple lives uncomplicated by schlepping between homes and dealing with unreasonable people.

      1. And how interesting would your perspective be if it were the father being the ‘unreasonable’ person and flaunting court orders and not allowing his child to spend time with her mother. Would you still hold the same laissez faire, live and let live attitude?

  5. Life on the other side of the fence.
    Hey moms why can’t dad see his kid as much as you. I’m willing to go as far as moving in the same neighborhood so it’s easier for everyone. Mom won’t commit to staying in a neighborhood. Doesn’t make much sense to me.

    Frustrated Dad:(

  6. I don’t see my two kids very often because when we separated, she moved the kids out of state and even commented that she would probably take a job overseas. She’s gone out of her way to make it difficult for me to see them. And has influenced them against me and badmouthed me for years. The kids will now rarely speak to me. It’s because they feel if they talk to me then they are betraying her. I’m still being punished for divorcing her. The kids and I have suffered greatly as she relishes in victory. Her selfishness is part of the reason I left. She didn’t learn anything. All cases are not deadbeat Dad/cut and dry. Plenty of times I called to talk to the kids and she wouldn’t answer. One time I came for a visit, the kids told me to park on the street as she didn’t want to see me. Kids pick up on stuff like that. The ex-wife’s have a huge influence and can play nasty games. Readers here speculate all you want…but that’s how it is for some fathers. My experience/two-cents.

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