The Truth About My Child Support

When people, usually biological fathers, say that child support is for the child, I cringe a little. Not because it was established for assisting with the child, but they put it an emphasis like minor children have direct deposit or can cash the check themselves. I am a mother of a 10 year-old and the recipient of child support payments. I am not just my child’s “payee”. There is no stipulation on how this money should be spent. I’m not invisible, hence why it is paid to me until my child is an adult. So contrary to popular belief and what the court, agency, or whatever is forcing withdrawals calls it, let’s be realistic: Child support is for the custodian parent and they can do whatever they want with it. Truthfully, not harshly speaking.

We live in a society where when a man tells the world he has “babymama drama” he gets compassion because it is easier to portray the disregard for father’s rights. It is easier to fabricate and even tell the world that he can’t see his children. Very few analyze and ask him, Why not? Why are you not allowed? How do you plan to fix it so you can? So men will continue to badmouth their children’s mothers and use these, among other excuses as scapegoats when actually from the mother’s point of view, they could just be inconsistent and irresponsible fathers. However, once a woman tells the same world about her drama — you will find some women who will naturally agree with her but she gets more ridiculed. She gets blamed for picking that man, as she was supposed to be careful and read the fine print, like she knew ahead of time that this person was not fit to become/stay a good father, and it’s her fault because she still agreed to procreate. Then if she just moves on with her life with her child, perhaps to another, better man/father figure, she gets ridiculed for that too (please see: Ciara and Future).

Disclaimer: I do understand men face issues when they desire to be responsible fathers. I’m not unaware of that nor am I referring to those kind of men. I am a woman so I can only speak from my experience and prospective but I try not to be biased.

Many of the men I see complain about child support aren’t even deadbeats. But what many fail to realize is that just because you are not a deadbeat, it doesn’t mean you’re an effective father either. You are just around. And being “just around” is sometimes not enough. Honestly, to be an effective father, a man (who does not have custody) would have to still be involved with the mother or have an exceptional co-parenting relationship with her. Majority of the men who huff and puff on this situation aren’t in either category! And they feel as if the legal system is unfair to them, because hey, at least they are, “just around”. Weekend visitation is not co-parenting. You cannot raise a child only seeing them two/three times a month. When there is co-parenting, responsibilities should be jointly even if the child lives with one. If a man isn’t able to co-parent; since he cannot be forced to be there physically or emotionally, he’s forced financially. Another point I have seen men bring up is that they feel women just want the money and that child support cannot replace the father. True, but some of these same men will pay just their child support and refuse to give anything else. Isn’t that contradictory? If you have limitations on any extra you’re going to do for your child just because you get taken for child support then child support might as well replace you.

Years ago, a good friend, who is also a single mother, told me (and I’ve heard this from other women as well) that women should just be grateful some of us are at least getting something, whereas there are women who get/got nothing. Okay, at least I get something but you’re suggesting that I be satisfied, grateful, for the bare minimum. With this logic, we make the “bare minimum an above par standard, which is why it is still such a surprise when we come across a truly active father. With this logic, you’re basically saying, as long as he’s not a deadbeat. With this logic, you’re basically saying, as long as he’s “just around”. That’s unfair. It’s unfair to the mothers of these children, it’s unfair to the children who didn’t ask to be here and unfair to the community of fathers who don’t get the acknowledgment they deserve because they’re thrown in the same above par category. You think they’re not? With all the great fathers there may be, Father’s Day is still the less popular holiday compared to Mother’s Day, and creates so much debate and bitterness. People don’t praise fathers as much as they do mothers. Even in this world of many unfit mothers, still.

One of my male Facebook friends, let’s call him Malik, shared a video of a woman in her car telling women how child support is supposed to be spent on the child, etc. I watched it but it really seems to me that this woman must have a boyfriend or husband who is on child support and it’s affected their relationship — her frustration is too evident. Malik, who I knew personally and his situation with child support, shared it with hopes of other people agreeing (because this is why we share and post things, right?). Of course men are going to agree with him, but men also believe if something is coming from another woman, women must or will agree with it too. Wrong. Women are emotional so if her relationship wasn’t directly affected by child support, she wouldn’t be making the video in the first place. In addition, another woman can’t make me feel a certain way about how I handle my personal situation or money. It’s different strokes for different folks. This is why:

Most men pay 20% or less of their income. Unless a man is making a good salary, those child support checks aren’t that much. Children usually stay with the mothers. Not only do noncustodial fathers have more leisure time, they have the option to work whatever shift and whatever amount of hours if needed. I, a custodian parent, can’t. I have to make my work schedule fit my child, meaning it would be very difficult to work very late, unless I found childcare or had a better support system. I work business hours while she’s in school to pay bills, pay for clothes for a growing child, her eyeglasses, transportation, and groceries which also feeds this child since she’s with me majority of her time. Anything which may arise at her school, I am the one who is involved. Let’s not discuss the doctor visits that I go to, alone. Not because the father doesn’t care for his child’s health but because he is not forced to go and he has the choice not to. So if I take the child support given and buy something for ME, why is it a problem? I honestly pay for whatever I want, just like he pays for his freedom.