Of course it's abandonment. He might believe ... that he needed to abandon them to protect them, but that doesn't make his actions any less abandonment.
It may feel like that to them, but that wasn't his intent
. The word "abandon" means to give up all concern or responsibility for a thing. Sisko did nothing of the kind. He believed that the only way he could fulfill
his responsibility to the family he loved was to leave them. They may feel abandoned, but that does not mean that he actually abandoned them. It would be more accurate to say he renounced
his ties to them.
Again, frankly, it's pretty anachronistic to say that they were "abandoned" just because the man of the house left. That implies that Kasidy is some helpless waif who can't survive without her husband. She's always been quite capable of taking care of herself. If anything, Benjamin's probably the one who's worse off for being separated, given how emotionally dependent he's always been on his family ties. What he did was to sacrifice his own happiness for his family's sake. Yes, he knew it would cost them happiness too, but he figures they'll be better off in the long run. Talking about him as an "abandoner" or a "deadbeat" is implying that he ran off to Risa to have a great time while his poor fragile wifey pined away. It's ridiculous. It's got jack-all to do with this universe or these characters.
It wasn't just a matter of going away for years ..., it was a matter of cutting himself off from them, not communicating with them, and ultimately deciding to unilaterally excise himself from their lives. How is that anything but abandonment?
How do you not already know the answer to that, after all the dozens of times this argument has been rehashed on this board? Because he was absolutely convinced that they would suffer or die if he didn't
leave them. You know that.
How many stories have there been about characters who sacrificed their lives
to save their families, or who voluntarily accepted imprisonment to protect their loved ones from persecution? Fiction and life are full of stories where people left their loved ones forever in order to protect them.
Fair point about "deadbeat," though it's used colloquially to mean much the same thing as "ababdoner" in my experience.
That's because your experience is of life in 20th- and 21st-century America, a society where families need monetary income to survive and thus abandonment and failure to pay child support go hand in hand. It doesn't follow that the same equivalence would apply in a moneyless society centuries in the future.