Recently, I noticed a Twitter exchange about fatherhood between one of my followers and another person. My follower, who I will call Jeff, posted an innocuous article about the changing face of fatherhood. The story explained how dads are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. Although I applauded the article for its positive portrayal of fathers, one of Jeff’s followers didn’t feel the same way.
She started sending him links to stories about fathers whose kids died after being left in hot cars, articles on abusive fathers, and statistics on absentee dads. Jeff didn’t understand why she was sending him this information. He replied one of her messages to ask her about the point she was making.
“You need to stop sending these articles,” she tweeted. “Because the majority of fathers are deadbeats.”
She and Jeff entered a heated debate and it turned ugly quickly.
As I watched the events unfold, I wondered why this woman was so angry towards fathers. Did her father abandon her? Did your husband leave her with the kids and refuse to pay child support? Many scenarios ran through my head. To some extent, I can understand her point-of-view. As someone who grew up with one of the so-called deadbeat dads, I know why she would have such strong emotions. However, I don’t agree with her assertion that the majority of fathers are deadbeats.
Most of the men I know are striving to be great dads. They don’t always hit the mark, but they learn from their mistakes and try to do better next time. Jeff is an example of this type of father. I’ve followed him on Twitter for three years now and his tweets reveal a deep love for his family and a dedication to being a positive influence in his children’s lives.
But dads like Jeff are rarely highlighted. It’s easier to focus on the dads who are not taking care of their responsibilities. If you search “deadbeat dad” on Twitter, you will find a wide array of passionate and disparaging tweets. I’m disappointed by the men who chose to abandon their kids, but I also know that there are two sides to every story. I spent many years being angry with my father and hating him because I thought he didn’t love me. However, I learned to release the hate after he explained the reasons why he couldn’t be the father I needed.
I hope that the woman Jeff was debating with learns the same lesson I did. The actions of a few men aren’t representative of all fathers. Deadbeat dads do exist, but so do caring, involved dads. These are the men we need to tweet about.
Join the conversation: How can we influence media conversations to focus more on good fathers?
photo by Graham Crumb