Who is responsible for the deadbeat parent?
Do parents who walk out on their kids deserve to be looked after later on in life?
One source defines a deadbeat parent as ‘obligor parents of either gender that have freely chosen not to be a financially supportive parent in their children's lives.’
A friend of mine, Mark, told me recently that his deadbeat dad hinted to him that he might need some financial assistance since he has retired. The dilemma that Mark is in is that he was raised by a mother and step dad because his father would have absolutely nothing to do with mother and child. As a young adult Mark reunited with his father and they have an amicable relationship.
However Mark does not feel responsible for his father’s welfare as he feels that his younger half siblings, brought up by his biological deadbeat dad, have a moral obligation to look after the old man since they are the ones who benefited from his hard work. He is of the opinion that his obligation is towards his mum and step-dad.
“I left, but now you have to look after me”
I come from a back ground where some deadbeat parents have a culture of wriggling back into their children’s lives at an opportune time, especially when the children have finished school and have little need for any financial need. Once these deadbeat parents have gotten over their initial guilt they expect financial and other assistance from the same children they may have disowned at one time. Most of them love to use the “blood is thicker than water’ card.
One recent case which comes to mind is that of a man who claimed to be South African politician Julius Malema’s father who was interviewed by DRUM Magazine. He is on record for saying: “…he (Julius) doesn’t care about me and when he passes me in the street in one of his big cars he looks at me as if I am a stranger…I want to reconcile with the boy – he’s my flesh and blood, but he wants nothing to do with me. It hurts.”
“I love you, but only when it suits me”
One gets the idea that some deadbeat parents only want to reconcile with their children when it would be convenient for them to do so.
But then should an adult child retaliate for the unfair treatment that they received from an irresponsible parent? Just because a parent was deadbeat does it necessarily mean that the adult child also has to be neglectful to the parent who may now be in need.
There are differing views on this topic. Yousuf, a respondent to expert questions on Parent24 website, had this to say: “Blood ties should always be maintained and the least you can do is be civil”
Lee, another respondent, had a different view when she wrote “You don't need this useless waste of skin in your life. People don't change quite as dramatically to assume that a dead-beat dad will transition into a loving, compassionate father desperate to make up for these deficiencies. Once a deadbeat, always a deadbeat.”
To all the deadbeat parents out there- beware. What goes around comes around.
Read more by Sipho Yanano
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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Is “blood thicker than water”, or should we be ignoring deadbeat parents?