For many years, I watched single fathers being labeled “deadbeat dads” by society, the judicial system, talk shows, news articles, etc. When I found out I was going to be a single father three years ago, I vowed I’d be different.
I work and provide a good home for my daughter three days a week. But when our parenting plan was being established, it was an uphill battle.
The state of Washington said each parent is responsible 50-50, but it also said visitation every other weekend was appropriate for the father.
How is a father supposed to be a major part of a child’s life in only four days a month? When I said I wanted Victoria three days a week, my lawyer said, “Good luck.” The law office didn’t think that would be a good idea.
I asked why not. Who says a father can’t change diapers, make meals and give love?
I’ve worked at the same place for 10 years. I have a nice house. I cook. I clean. I don’t have a criminal record. I don’t even have speeding tickets. I’m not rich, but I work hard at making things nice and taking care of what I have.
But I didn’t even have a chance to become a deadbeat dad. I was labeled as one right off the bat. They would take my child support but didn’t want me to have fair visitation.
So I volunteered to work weekends at my job and take weekdays off to save on day care and not take time away from Victoria’s mother on her days off.
The state still didn’t know if that was good. But Victoria’s mother agreed to it. Thanks to her, I have my daughter every week.
Some parents have abuse, drug or alcohol problems and the other parent worries about this affecting the child. That can happen with males or females.
But without even knowing me - without investigating the situation, without coming to my home, without talking to any of my friends - they labeled me as not capable of taking care of a child. They had no reason except the fact that I am a man. I thought that was pretty sad.
All I’m saying is: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Everyone - man or woman - deserves a fair chance.
It seems hard to stand up for your rights, but don’t get me wrong. It was well worth the fight.
MEMO: “Your turn” is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a “Your turn” column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write “Your turn,” The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane 99210-1615.
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