image Deadbeats don't take care of their children. They neglect them when they're around, skip child support payments, forget birthdays, and make life miserable for the other parent. They're the worst kind of degenerate; they're total scum.

Or so many of us believe. Sometimes about others, sometimes about ourselves.

There's no doubt that children need caring for. Kids are precious to us, and few things unite us as a society like defending them. So the subject of "deadbeats" is understandably a touchy one.

The problem with labels like "deadbeat" is that, while they pertain to important issues, they don't do anything to solve problems. We say them in anger -- it feels good to utter them -- and so we're tricked into thinking we've accomplished something, when we've actually done nothing at all.

Like all Labels, this one is more than just an adjective. Labels make problems seem insurmountable and people appear unreachable. They're used to dismiss people, not reach out to them.

Worse, there is no "fair" way to apply them, and no easy way to erase them once they're misapplied. Sometimes we even make ourselves the target, proclaiming ourselves deadbeats when we don't "measure up."

If someone is shirking their responsibilities, don't depend on a Label to remedy the situation. And if you feel inadequate, seek out the help of others rather than a self-imposed judgement. Choose actions over words, dialogue over dismissal, and love over labelling. When the problem is with people, the solution will be through people.

Labels: Don't use them. Don't accept them.