Deadbeat Fathers Use Social Media to Present Themselves as Good Parents

Walter Rhein
Image courtesy of Walter Rhein

I have a former friend who was divorced about a decade ago. He has a daughter from that marriage who is now a teenager. He visits her for one weekend a month. If you follow him on social media, you can tell when a visit happens because his profile is flooded with new images.

His profile picture is an image of him hugging his daughter. He’ll caption his photos with lines like, “I had a wonderful breakfast with my daughter.” His friends will comment and tell him what a great dad he is.

But the people on social media don’t see the truth. The truth is that when it’s his weekend with his daughter, he doesn’t spend much time with her. He picks her up long enough to snap a couple of pictures and then dumps her off somewhere.

Those of us who know him, know when his weekend is coming because we start getting the calls. “Can you watch my daughter this weekend?” He frets all month about how he’s going to get away from her. He’s making calls before she arrives, and he makes more calls when she leaves so he’s set for next time.

On social media, he presents himself as a caring and attentive father. In real life, it’s obvious that he considers his daughter a burden. He does everything he can to escape her.

Being a good father is not a once-a-month obligation. You have to be a good father every day. Even if you are separated from your wife, it is still possible to have contact with your daughter every day. We live in an era of communication. Phone calls, face time, and emails are all precious to a child.

This former friend recently got married again. The daughter wasn’t in attendance at the wedding. He, of course, tried to present it as another attack from his ex-wife. However, the daughter’s absence is proof that the relationship isn’t healthy.

Does the new wife see the daughter as a threat?

Has the daughter finally gotten fed up?

I was sitting at a dinner with this friend and a few other people I knew. The latest round of photos had just hit social media and they all started saying what a great father he was.

“You always post pictures, and you call her all the time.”

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and I said. “I guess I don’t call my daughter all the time, but that’s because I’m always at home with her.”

This statement brought down an awkward silence. People rarely say the things that need to be said. If somebody is a bad father, it’s important to say so. At the very least, don’t sit around telling them what a great father they are.

Telling somebody they are a bad father will probably ruin the friendship. But little children deserve to have good fathers. If telling somebody they are a bad father makes them try a little harder, you’ve done a lot of good for that child.

We all know people who flood their timelines with pictures of themselves with their families. Are these images ever legitimate? It always seems like the people who seem happiest on Facebook are the first to get divorced.

If you spend a lot of time with your children, there’s no need to post it all over social media. The world doesn’t need to know that you are a good parent. The only people that need to know if you’re a good parent are your children.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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