Can A Deadbeat Dad Have ‘Family Values’?

Representative Joe WalshIllinois Representative Joe Walsh is a lesson in contradictions. He’s a Congressman, which I consider to mean that he’s an upstanding citizen who values morals and responsibility. (Yes, I realize that I’m operating under a rather antiquated view of politicians, but I prefer to think of it as optimistic.) He’s also a deadbeat dad who owes his wife over $100,000 in support for his four children. That seems to be in direct opposition to that whole responsibility business. After all, isn’t the responsibility to provide for one’s children seen as pretty important?

It’s a funny thing about deadbeat parents, they are always horrible, selfish, worthless pieces of crap until they actually have a name. Once you know who the person is, it becomes a complex case of family court prejudice, life’s unforseen circumstances and extreme misunderstanding. In fact, it’s apparently possible for a man who owes over $100,000 to his children to be congratulated for his family values.

That’s right, this Congressman has been honored by the Family Research Council for his “unwavering support of the family.” Which I guess begs the question, what family are we talking about here? The group’s chairman, Tony Perkins, clarified, ”Congressman Walsh and other ”˜True Blue Members’ have voted to repeal Obamacare, de-fund Planned Parenthood, end government funding for abortion within the health care law, uphold the Defense of Marriage Act and continue support for school choice.”

Well, I guess if this is what you consider “family values,” then Joe Walsh might be a logical candidate for your award. Continuing to keep health care out of reach for millions of Americans, limiting low-income women’s access to reproductive health services and refusing to acknowledge families that don’t look like your own. If those are family values, then I have very little room to object to Joe Walsh’s inclusion in such a honor.

But if we take a more traditional view of family values, one that focuses on supporting families as ethical and moral institutions that deserve to be respected, then it gets hard to connect a deadbeat dad with that cause. Child support is about so much more than money. Especially for a man who is making a decent salary, a refusal to pay support to your kids sends a very strong message about their importance in your life. And it never matters if a person thinks that they’re “sticking it to their ex” by withholding money. It’s always the children who get hurt when divorce proceedings get this ugly.

This Congressman has a family outside of Washington D.C. It’s a family that counted on him to continue to provide for them. It’s a family that needed a father to be active and involved. How can a person claim to support family values, yet leave their own children in need? The dichotomy makes absolutely no sense to me.

The audacity of a group that pretends to promote family values honoring a man who obviously feels very little responsibility to his actual children is almost unbelievable. The fact that supporting or opposing partisan legislature makes you a “family values” politician, even if you don’t pay attention to your offspring, is disheartening.

Can a deadbeat parent have family values? No matter what smiling or sympathetic face connects to said parent, this honest answer is no. Not in any real sense of the term. Because supporting families and valuing their merit starts with your own. And refusing to support your children sends a very clear message about what your priorities are.

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