In honor of Father’s Day, which is Sunday, let’s take a moment to recognize some folks who seem to get little to no attention in the normal course of human events.
Let’s talk about deadbeat moms, the underpublicized subset of irresponsible Americans who do not make required child support payments.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most current data, deadbeat moms can be just about as irresponsible as deadbeat dads. (FYI, the bureau doesn’t use the term “deadbeat moms,” defined by me as moms who do not make the full, required payments to dads with custody of their kids.)
In 2009, the year studied for a 2011 Census Bureau report, 42 percent of custodial moms received full child support payments due from the non-custodial dad. Thirty-four percent of custodial dads got the full child support payments due from the non-custodial mom.
Who knew moms could be just about as irresponsible as dads?
The Census Bureau included the child support numbers in its Father’s Day news release, which also tells us there are 15,000 hardware stores where one can “buy hammers, wrenches, screwdrivers and other items high on the list of Father’s Day gifts.”
Deadbeat dads owe a lot more than deadbeat moms because far more dads are required to pay child support. About 82 percent of custodial parents are women. In 2009, custodial dads got $1.9 billion of the $3.5 billion due them. Custodial moms got $19.5 billion of the $31.7 billion due them.
All in all, the Census Bureau’s “Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support: 2011” report is a concerning look at the state of the American family, a concept in transition from the notion portrayed on TV many years ago by “Ozzie and Harriett.”
We still have some Ozzie and Harriet families and we have some Ozzie and Ozzie families and we have some Harriet and Harriet families. Any of these combinations can work (or fail). The larger problem, I’d guess, would be Ozzie families or Harriett families. Having done it the two-parent way, I can’t imagine a challenge more daunting than doing it solo. My hat’s off to all who have succeeded at that. Thanks.
In 2010, according to the report, 13.7 million American parents had custody of 22 million kids under age 21 in situations where the other parent lived elsewhere. That, of course, does not mean there’s not another adult living with the parent and the child or children.
Those 22 million kids represented 26 percent of all of the nation’s 83.8 million children under 21. The report notes the situation in 2009 wasn’t much different than it was in 1994. Some of the included demographics are interesting: 22.4 percent of white kids lived with a custodial parent compared with 49.2 percent of black kids.
Let’s end with a more upbeat note about how one of everybody’s favorite presidents is responsible for making Father’s Day an annual national celebration. The concept was conceived in 1909 by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., after she heard a Mother’s Day sermon and wanted equivalent recognition for her dad, a widowed Civil War vet who raised six kids on a farm.
The mayor of Spokane chose a June 1910 Sunday for that city’s first Father’s Day celebration. In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day across the nation. But it was President Richard Nixon who, in April 1972, signed the federal law that made it permanent (impressive for a guy who at the time also probably was busy with details for the fast-approaching June 1972 Watergate break-in).
That law asks presidents to annually issue proclamations urging “the people of the United States to offer public and private expressions of Father’s Day to the abiding love and gratitude they have for their fathers.”
I’m sure that Nixon, if alive today, would want you to head to the hardware store in search of that perfect hammer, wrench or screwdriver, maybe one suitable for breaking into a national political party’s headquarters.