It should be pretty obvious and it should go without saying, but dads matter in their kids' lives. Having an active father-figure can make a world of difference to a child, boy or girl. I truly don't understand how or why dads can be so easily let off the hook when it comes to parenting, as if it's solely the mother's job to raise good people and the dad is just meant to be a friend or playmate when it works into his schedule. I call bullshit.
Maybe I was spoiled. Maybe I'm biased. My dad was awesome, still is. He always put his kids and their needs above his own. Hell, he still does and we're all in our late 20s to early 30s with lives of our own.
He coached all of our little league sports, reading up on volleyball rules, learning how to dribble soccer balls so he could teach us the basics, going to cheer leading competitions all over the state, etc. My dad is a badass dad. Maybe that's why I have such high expectations for all dads. He taught *most* of us how to drive and tried to teach us the basics of car maintenance. He still checks in on us and makes sure we are taking care of the cars and that we have everything we need. He'll happily drop what he's doing and come to our aid the second we imply that we need anything at all.
Yeah, I guess that makes me spoiled.
Here's the thing (and the whole point behind my rant): My dad being awesome has helped me to know what I should expect from my husband as a father to our kids and from the other fathers in my life.
It's also why I find it impossible to understand and so thoroughly perplexing when people I know decide to stop being dads to the children they've help raise for however many years. Whether it's your biological child or a child you choose to have in your life for some other reason, when you sign up to be a dad, that shit is for life. Act like it.
Being a dad is fun! Just like being a mom, you get all the joys and pleasures that come with creating a human being and helping mold them into reasonable, responsible, clever, open minded, loving adults. They thrive when both parental units are involved and reliable.
Just because you and their mother can't get along doesn't mean you should stop being there for them. If anything, it should mean that you step up even more! They need to know that just because you aren't with their mother anymore, it doesn't mean you dropped them too.
You and your baby momma broke up? Well that sucks, but you still have a kid together so you can't really cut and run to another part of the country. Unless you don't mind your child thinking "my dad doesn't love him. He left the first chance he got. I guess being a dad isn't that important."
Not only are you bailing on your kid(s) you are teaching them that that sort of behavior is ok. If you're unhappy, just leave. Nothing bad will happen, you just get to start all over and do whatever the hell you want. That's not how the real world should work. If you make a commitment to someone, like "yeah, let's make a baby/raise a kid together" then you need to do it.
Kids from broken homes are considerably more likely to create broken homes for themselves as adults because it's all they know. Before you bail on your kid(s), think about your childhood. Did one of your parents bail on you? How did you feel? Do you really want your child to have a life like that?
I am absolutely not saying you should "stay together for the kids" or get married because you knocked her up. If you aren't good together, you should definitely not force a child to live in that environment. Get married because you love each other. Because you're good to and for one another. Because you couldn't imagine living without them. Don't ever get married or stay in a relationship out of a sense of obligation. No one benefits from that sort of environment.
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Writer and Contributor for the Motherhood Community