New Year’s Message for Absent Dads

Matt Haviland and daughter
Gail’s editorial as it appeared in The Port Arthur News, January 6, 2013

A New Year has arrived and millions of single mothers are struggling to pay for Santa. Dads are too often absent.

There are 22 million children in single parent homes. That’s a bunch of expectations from a Santa without a workshop.

A great number of single mothers do not receive child support even though in Texas there are 1.3 million cases being handled by the Attorney General’s office. Custodial parents who do receive child support due have declined to about 40 percent in the last few years. This makes paying the electric bill and buying kids new shoes very difficult.

The facts are disturbing.  Almost one-third of single mothers live below the poverty level and that number is increasing.

Some children never see or even know their fathers. Their hopes of a consistent Daddy are not met. Disappointments sting when they return to school after the holidays and friends are sharing what Santa brought them.

“Child support income is especially important to families in poverty, and reports show that increasingly, custodial parents find themselves below the poverty level,” said report author Timothy Grall, a survey statistician in the Census Bureau’s Program Participation and Income Transfers Branch.

I know dads can do better. I know that some want to do better. If you know an absent daddy perhaps you could cut out the following section . . .

Dads, I have a suggestion for you that could make a difference in 2013.

Why not buy your teen-age kids a pair of shoes? Boys like running shoes; girls love boots. And you could add a pair of socks. Jackets are also nice this time of year. Younger girls love dolls and boys collect trucks. If you need more ideas, the clerks in stores are happy to help a man in distress. Just ask. Shoeboxes are easy to wrap and don’t forget a gift bag for the jacket or trucks. It could be an after Christmas surprise or a New Year’s gift.

Just think, every time your son or daughter puts on the shoes and jacket he or she will think of you. The young kids will brag to their friends about the gifts “Dad gave me.” It may even open a door that has been closed for a while. A New Year with new shoes, jackets, toys, fewer disappointments, and some child support would sure be nice. Seems like a good way to start 2013.

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