The Right to be a Deadbeat

There is an interesting but upsetting debate that has been rekindled in America this week. I will refer to it as “Father’s Rights.” The National Center for Men are arguing that child support laws victimize men in cases of unintended pregnancy. I guess Deadbeat Dadhood just got a new freshman class.As a purely intellectual exercise, the concept of “equal” decision-making power in the event of unintended pregnancy is actually interesting. On the surface, men are 100% powerless in the decision to have a baby once conception has occurred. Let’s compare:

What a woman may choose:
Have the child
Abort the child
Raise the child after birth (alone or with the father)
Seek adoption for the child after birth
Abandon the child after birth

What a man may choose:
Raise the child after birth (with or separate from the mother)
Abandon the child after birth

Looking at sheer numbers, the women definitely have more options.

Often in the case of unintended pregnancy, men start counting nickels as well. They may often fiscally abandon both the child and the mother because they do not want the baby. I guess the argument here is that this is “unfair” since if the mother didn’t want the baby, she could have an abortion and it would be a “done deal.” This is a blatantly irresponsible and immature view that completely disregards the proven and documented adverse health effects of abortions. But aside from that, the reason that child support laws are on the books is to [at least attempt to] lessen the negative financial effects of a failed parental relationship on their child. What that means is that when a parent defaults on child support, they default on the child. THAT’S WHY IT’S CALLED CHILD SUPPORT!!!!

The problem with the arguments of the National Center for Men is that it’s goal is to punish women because they have more choices. This is simply asinine. In a blind and irresponsible reactionary fury to a feeling of powerlessness at the time of being made aware of an unintended pregnancy, these dudes decided to fight for the right to make a their own kid(s) suffer. Wow

Maybe they don’t see it that way. Maybe their motivation is, “I give her child support money and she spends it on everything but our child.” Well, there are two options to avoid the aforementioned scenario:

1. Stay together and [at least attempt to] maintain a functional relationship
In this scenario, the money is both of you all’s anyway, so where it goes is more transparent. In no way am I implying that the only drive to attempt to make a mother-father relationship flourish is money. I actually think quite the opposite, believing that trust and understanding can form foundations that will overcome monetary challenges. I simply present this as an option for those who don’t want their money “wasted.”

2. Think before you smash
The person who made the decision to get on the trifling’ female was…you.

So what is my conclusion? Don’t drink the careless. Let’s not look for excuses to abandon reasonable responsibilities that so many already disregard. We need a re-definition of black fatherhood, or fatherhood period. Nowhere in that definition should there exist a man who is jealous of his woman’s “abundance of options.”

“Men cannot afford to be careless.”
– Vito Corleone


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

4 responses to “The Right to be a Deadbeat”

  1. Free says :

    Brilliant. I definitely agree that the most empowering & important option is the one we all make before having sex. Most people just aren’t thinking about the “what ifs” at that time.

  2. Anonymous says :

    Brilliant is right. This is a really good post. What’s unfornate is, that deadbeats are deadbeats before woman actually lay down with them. Men & women have got to understand that making the decision to have sex can alter lives so many ways.
    Children don’t ask to be here…

  3. ms mimi the mocha soulchild says :

    I agree with everything that has been said. I would take it up a notch. If the person you are laying down with is not someone you would want to be linked with forever, don’t do it.

    A good friend once told me that a relationship ends where sex begins. I’m not a conservative, but I believe in abstinence.

  4. field negro says :

    All these comments are right-on. As someone who has worked in this field for the past twelve years, I have seen first hand the unfortunate consequence of sleeping with the wrong person.

    Unfortunately, this type of behaviour by single individuals has a a negative impact on the black community as a whole. The lack of an intact family often leads to other social problems, such as poverty and crime.

    This topic needed to be touched, and we should be trying to keep it in the forefront of our discussions and thoughts.

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