Let's Get More Creative With Deadbeat Parent Punishments

Jeanne Sager

DeadbeatsIt's one of those absolute truths of the parenting world. Deadbeat parents suck. Flat out. Now that we've got that straightened out, here's the bigger problem ... how to deal with them.

Because a proposal in one Georgia county that would take away the license plates of parents who have taken off on their kids and aren't paying their child support sounds great on the surface. But like so many of the options meant to punish the bad parent, it's the kid who gets hurt in the end. Simple fact: people without cars in many places can't actually get to work. No work means no money. No money means no child support, ya dig?

Like throwing a deadbeat in jail, which has the effect of punishing the parent but likewise making it impossible for them to work AND keeping them away from the kid who could use a parent around, it's one of those well-meant but not necessarily well-designed plans to solve a problem that affects one in 14 families. Even the act of public shaming, posting the names, photos, and vital statistics of these crappy parents on the Internet, has a way of biting the kids in the butt as their family's dirty laundry is aired in public ... and then on the playground.

So what does work? One of my favorite plans takes away a deadbeat parent's right to obtain a hunting or fishing license. Provided they don't make their living as, say, a commercial fisherman, it's quite perfect really. It takes away something most folks do for enjoyment. It forces them to think about what kind of enjoyable things their kids miss out on because money's tight.

Too bad you can't also revoke their Netflix membership, ban them from bars, and/or bar them from making purchases of any video game-related paraphernalia. Maybe add a "deadbeat parent" line on the driver's license akin to the big red UNDER 21 that New York State kids bear on their license until their 21st birthday? That's a guarantee no bouncer will ever let them into a club.

Personally I've always thought forcing the deadbeats to volunteer in local schools would be a good one. Ultimately it would be their own kid's school, but in case that would just make the kid more upset, any school will do. Forcing them to face the reality of what it's like to be a kid will be a nice slice of humble pie.

What do you think? Get creative here people -- what's the best solution for deadbeat parents ... that won't in turn hurt the kids? Is it possible to come up with any?


Image via milesgehm/Flickr

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