An Open Letter to Absentee Parents

Dear Absentee Parent,

There seems to be a myth that the person who is raising the children should be the person who pays for the children; an idea that if you aren’t there to watch them grow, you don’t share the responsibility. I’d like to unburden you of that lie.

As parents around the globe get ready for the first day of school, I’d like to remind you, your child still has to eat.

Your child does not stop growing the moment you walk out the door. On the contrary, children continue to grow: that means they need new sneakers, shoes, clothes, socks, underclothes; and they probably need them more often than the person who cares for your children tells you they do.

Each day, you eat.

Likewise, your child would like to eat each day. Not only would your child like to eat daily, your child needs to eat several times a day and would like healthy snacks in between meals.
You may not know this: eating is an expensive habit.  It costs money to feed your family, even if you aren’t there; your kids have to eat.

Other reminders: books, paper, crayons, erasers, pens, and other school supplies are not “wish list” items; your child needs these supplies to engage in school.

Buy them.

Instead of asking if the person who cares for your children needs anything; know that they do. Your kids need something every day regardless of whether you are there to see them want or need it. Whether or not you believe they need something does not change the reality that besides love, attention, understanding, nurturing, guidance, opportunities, and all of the other things your children need, they also need tangible items with price tags.

You aren’t getting away with something by not supporting your children. You aren’t punishing the person who left or cheated or hurt you; you aren’t righting a wrong or setting things straight.

You are hurting your children.


If no one else tells you this, I’d like to be the one to remind you to take care of your kids; they need you. Don’t ask if they need something: they do. Send them a gift card, cash, store credit: it’s your responsibility.

You may not have “spare change” and no one is asking you for it.

 It costs real money to raise real people. If you can’t contribute financially, contact the person who is taking care of your children and see what you can do—because there is something you can do; a way you can help; a burden you can carry.

Be a parent.




  1. There are things we don't talk about. Does not talking about something allow people to continue their actions or inaction?

    Am I enabling someone to not be a parent? Are you?

  2. Hear hear. Your child also needs heating, lighting and a constant supply of clothes (children have an annoying habit of growing) and to hear: 'But she had new shoes LAST YEAR' is enough to make you reach for a shotgun.

    And yet the parent who drops in occasionally with a present but is somehow never around for the grind is still often the one who complains that the ex has 'poisoned' the child against him. The picture is pulled out in the bar ('my little princess' sob sob) The fact that he hasn't contributed a penny and can't remember the name of the school she goes to is bye the bye. grrrrrrrr.

  3. Jane, thanks for your comment: you are quite right. Often an ex will complain about his or image with out thinking of the reality. I tell my children the reality: that I provide for them and will always be here for them.

    I don't want my children to have illusions that someone else is helping me raise them. If that makes my ex look badly; it's his job to change the view.

    Thanks again!


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