An Open Letter To Deadbeat Dads

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This letter speaks for the hundreds of Rim Country mothers who desperately work to scratch out a living without any help from the men who should be called father.

It's Christmastime and once again you are not here. As your children lay in their beds on Christmas Eve they hope they have been good enough for Santa's visit, but it saddens me to think that in their hearts they might believe they aren't good enough for their father to visit.

I often wonder what you are doing during these days before Christmas. Are you wrapping presents for other children? Are you decorating a tree that has a space for a child's homemade ornament you've never seen? Do you wonder if your children are hungry, or if I was able to get extra hours at my second job so I could pay the overdue heating bill?

Where are you?

How can you celebrate or make merry with your friends when your own flesh and blood struggles?

It doesn't matter that you don't love me any longer. But it does matter that your actions scream out that you don't love your own children. The pain this causes them is often buried far behind the eyes of a little boy who tries to be a man, or deep in the heart of a little girl who tries to be strong like her mother.

I try not to let them hear me cry at night when the weight of the world presses down on me. My hands tremble when I must open another windowed-envelope, an empty cupboard, a note from school, or the hood of an aging, broken car.

But I am not defeated, because I will never give up on my children. They are part of me and I will work every day of my life to remind them that they are not something to be abandoned and forgotten.

If you are a father who should be paying child support, pick up the phone and let this Christmas mark the season you made a real commitment to good will toward men -- and let it start with your own children. If you can't afford the judgment amount you're hiding from, commit to something that will help your children each month in the coming year.

Call the Gila County Child Support Division at (928) 425-4464, or for an in-state toll-free call, (800) 717-2629.

The Arizona Division of Child Support also offers an automated interactive voice-response phone line at (800) 882-4151. You can access a database of recorded frequently asked questions by pressing 8.

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