For millions of men Fathers’ Day means gathering with family, firing up the grill and enjoying what makes Fathers’ Day special; spending time together and reflecting on life with your children and family. For millions of kids this special day is set aside to say “Thanks Dad,” you are appreciated. Your presence, guidance, good nature, care, nurture, generosity, love and wisdom have helped shape our lives in positive ways too numerous to count. From you we learned empathy, perseverance, dedication, sacrifice in the pursuit of goals and the value of hard work. That’s the reality of Father’s Day for millions of men in America this June 18th.
For millions of other men however Fathers’ Day has a different meaning. For these millions of fathers, and their children, Fathers’ Day is not a time of joyful reflection and sharing, but a day of sorrow. These millions of Fathers have either limited, or lost, contact with their children and been forced to endure life at the hands of a legal system that insists their value to their kids is most importantly expressed by how much child support they pay.
These fathers live in a world where government has effectively told them your first priority is to pay up. For the lucky ones, paying up might mean they will get to see their children for a couple of days each month. For those less fortunate, the obligation to pay up is there, but the hope for contact, much less significant involvement with their children, has long since been extinguished.
The sad fact is this: Billions of government dollars are spent each year to insure fathers pay up. By comparison, virtually nothing is spent to help fathers denied contact with their children retain a role in their kids’ lives.
Recent changes to Illinois’ Child Support guidelines reinforce this priority of fathers as first and foremost a wallet. The new guidelines attempt to recognize children need, and want, a greater relationship with their father’s, how they go about expressing that recognition is somewhat suspect.