Deadbeat dads can be a toxic influence on your children’s lives and put a huge strain on you and your family dynamic.
It’s not your job to change a deadbeat dad, but there is certainly a lot you can do to improve your situation and make sure your child is best protected.
Here are 10 tips explaining how to deal with a deadbeat dad that’ll help improve your family dynamic:
How to Deal With a Deadbeat Dad – 10 Tips!
1. Take a Step Back and Don’t Take It Personally
As with the case of anyone whose actions and behaviors are causing you personal issues, you need to remember that it’s not your fault and you shouldn’t take it personally.
No matter how personal it feels or how personal he’s making it.
It’s not about you. Deadbeat dads have their own issues and act the way they do because of those, not because of anything you’ve done or said.
2. Don’t Engage in Arguments or Conflict with Them
Engaging in arguments or conflict with a deadbeat dad is only going to make things worse.
It’ll just give them more ammunition to use against you and make them feel justified in their actions.
It’s best to just ignore any attempts they make to engage you in conflict and keep the peace.
3. Set Some Healthy Boundaries
In order for you to protect yourself and your children, you need to set some healthy boundaries with a deadbeat dad.
This means making it clear what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.
It also means not letting them have any control over you or your life.
Setting boundaries and sticking to them is one of the main things that will be the difference between a tolerable and an intolerable situation.
4. Keep Records of Their Behavior
Another important thing you can do is to keep records of the deadbeat dad’s behavior.
This means keeping track of any missed child support payments, any times they’ve broken visitation agreements, or any other negative behaviors.
Having this documentation can be helpful if you ever need to take legal action against them.
It’s also a good way to protect yourself against being gaslit or lied to in general.
You’ll have a written record of their behavior and know exactly how they’ve been treating you and what they have or haven’t done.
5. Put Your Children’s Welfare First
No matter how difficult it is, you need to always put your children’s welfare first.
This means making decisions that are in their best interests, even if it’s not what you want or what’s easiest for you.
It’s important to remember that your children didn’t ask to be put in this situation and they’re the ones who deserve your love and protection the most.
We all hope deadbeat dads will realize this themselves one day, but ‘hope’ is the important word there.
6. Realize that You Can’t Change Him
You (most of us) need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t change a deadbeat dad.
You can’t fix him and you can’t make him be the father you want or the father your children deserve.
This is something he needs to do himself and it’s not something you can force or control.
The sooner you accept this, the easier it’ll be for you to deal with the situation.
I’m not trying to be a downer here, there is hope that he will change – but it just won’t be due to you trying to change him.
7. Lean on Your Support Network for Emotional Support
You’re in a tough situation and I’m sure it’s taking a toll on you emotionally.
It’s important to have a strong support network to lean on during times like this.
Whether it’s your friends, your family, or a professional therapist – make sure you have people you can talk to about what you’re going through.
Venting and getting things off your chest will help you to cope with having a deadbeat dad and help you make it through this tough time.
8. Consider Your Legal Options
Depending on your situation, you may want to consider taking legal action against him.
This could mean filing for child support or suing him for back child support.
It could also mean taking him to court to enforce visitation agreements or get full custody of your children.
Of course, taking legal action is a big decision and you should always consult with a lawyer before doing anything and think about how it’ll affect your children.
But it’s important to know that you do have options and you can take action if you need to.
9. Have a Crisis Talk with Him and Explain how His Actions Are Affecting You and Your Children
I’m sure you’ve tried this a number of times but you could try having a talk with him and explain how his actions are affecting you and your children.
It’s important to be calm and level-headed during this conversation.
Don’t attack him or try to make him feel guilty, just explain how you’re feeling and what you need from him.
Listen to what he has to say and try to come to an agreement about how things will go moving forward.
This is where setting boundaries and having clear communication is key.
10. Learn and Grow from This Experience
For the good and the bad that we come across in life, we should always try to learn and grow from the experience.
This situation is no different.
While getting involved with a deadbeat dad is not something we would ever want to go through, we can learn and grow from it.
We can learn how to be better parents, how to better deal with difficult situations, and how to better communicate with our children.
All of these things will make us better people and better parents.
And you never know, as he sees you bettering yourself and handling the situation maturely, it’s possible this will be a wake-up call for him and he’ll start to change his ways.
What Makes a Dad a Deadbeat?
Just so that we’re on the same page here and you’re not giving your baby daddy the label of deadbeat dad when he’s not, a deadbeat dad is defined as follows:
“A father who does not fulfill his paternal role, especially: one who fails to provide financial or emotional support for his children.”
In other words, a deadbeat dad is someone who doesn’t step up and do his part as a father.
He may not be physically present in his children’s lives, he may not provide financial support, or he may not provide emotional support.
Or, in some cases, he may do all three.
Whatever the case may be, if he’s not fulfilling his role as a father for any reason other than he can’t be bothered, he’s a deadbeat dad.
Will a Deadbeat Dad Ever Change?
This is a difficult question to answer because it really varies from case to case.
Some deadbeat dads will change their ways and become more involved in their children’s lives, some will continue to be deadbeat dads, and some will come in and out of their children’s lives.
It really all depends on the individual father and his situation.
However, one thing you can be sure of is that if you’re in a situation with a deadbeat dad, you’re not alone.
There are millions of other women out there who are dealing with the same thing.
You can get through this and you will be stronger for it!
Phil lives in England, UK, and has around 20 years experience as a professional life, career and executive coach. He started this blog to help others find and define their own self development journey. Blogging about a wide range of topics to help facilitate a better future.