I am 44 years old, a college graduate, and also a “Teenage Mother”.
I gave birth at age 18 and kept my baby.
I have had occasion lately to reflect and speak about this topic among family and friends.
We are as divided in opinion as I imagine the country is.
We discussed questions such as:
- When is one expected to take responsibility for their actions and stop using others for an excuse?
- Do people even have or strive to achieve grit anymore? Do people even know what this is?
- Does teenage parenthood doom people to a life of poverty?
One of the points discussed, kind of scoffed at and lost in the shuffle:
- Does teenage parenthood affect boys differently than girls? Does society view it differently?
Personally, I was floored by this question.
In fact, it bothered me so badly I didn’t sleep well for over a week, brooding over this.
It triggered so many emotions in me.
So many feelings.
Some of these feelings were not very pleasant. Anger, even rage, flared up.
Why? It’s complicated.
Custody, Child Support and All Entailed
I have sons…
I have worried about the scenario if they were to find themselves in a “situation”. What would we do if they weren’t “allowed” to be a part of the baby’s life (if they weren’t married to the mother)?
I have friends whose sons have given up. They have filed for mediation, for their basic visitation rights, and it appears the court doesn’t enforce these orders, at least not that I have seen practically.
These men will go to the county jail if they miss more than two child support payments, though.
Social media is full of the sad drama of this playing out.
I also was on the receiving end of a relationship where I was completely abandoned, left to provide all support for my child on my own.
It was so tough.
He had the luxury of walking away.
Child support enforcement is a joke, then and now.
I have to comment that putting people in the county jail is the most asinine solution to not paying child support I think I have heard.
It seems that “deadbeat dad” is something that is thrown at men immediately, at times undeserved. I don’t think there is an equivalent moniker for ladies who don’t pay ordered support or who withhold children from visitation.
I know many do not want to pay because they feel their children do not receive the money in any real way. They don’t want to give “their ex” their hard earned money.
No one has an accountant ciphering every penny they spend and screeching at them for misappropriation every month in household spending. This is another area where reform is needed. It’s too sensitive a topic to go into every scenario.
The most used current system of using a type of percentage calculation of the highest paid parent’s pay to figure support payments is not working. Telling a parent who is hit with a crushing child support payment “they can revisit and file a modification in six months” is not a helpful or just solution to this issue. Some reality in feasibility is required here.
I only say this person they created a child with was “good enough” to create a human life with… they have to set aside their bitterness and animosity that has now replaced their affection for the sake of this child that is uniquely partly them.
Their child did not ask to be born into this.
Their child did not ask for the adults in his/her life to use them as a weapon.
Their child did not ask to have this situation foisted upon him or her.
Their child loves and trusts them and their other parent to be there for him or her, no matter what.
Their child will be able to see the truth if they are consistent year after year — one must trust in the basic intelligence of their child’s ability to observe .
They merely must do their part in being truly consistent. Not half assed consistent, but one hundred percent, always there, even if they are going to be shut down.
Your child will be able to look back and remember: “ —” was there; called; showed up; sent those gifts, cards, etc… even though I wasn’t able to go with, see, do, be with — .”
I can report that this is a truly powerful and incredible process that pays enormous dividends in the future, however, most parents are just not capable of being patient enough to wait for those dividends.
It is rough. It is extremely humbling. It takes a ton of character to do this, a huge commitment to your child(ren).
Who will be able to put aside all they may feel, for the sake of this child who did not ask to be here in the middle of this drama.
Unfortunately, our culture has been conditioned to think of themselves, first and mostly. People have a very hard time conceiving of sacrificing anything for anyone else, outside of staged social media posts, stories, blogging, et al, showing otherwise.
People know they should, hence the posts… they just don’t. It’s hard work!
It also bears thinking about that social media is admissible in court.
Many a court case, especially divorce and custody related, has been won by submissions of the horrible things spewed online… thanks to a sharp eyed paralegal who spotted posts on social media.
People overshare every day, every aspect of their lives on every platform on the Internet and it bites them where it counts in court.
If the thought of your children seeing all you say about each other in the future doesn’t dissuade you from the nasty online pissing matches that play out at times… perhaps knowing this will.
Legal teams will scoop it all up, searching for anything to paint the opposition in a bad light.
Teenage parenthood has dropped steadily over the past decade in the United States.
However, the bitterness and anger that is reality between men and women who are in disarray over their children, custody, child support, and who is at fault appears to be escalating with social media advances.
The Bigger Picture
However, it bears thinking about…would any man or woman want to pay support for children the court will not even enforce visitation orders for?
The bitterness over the injustice of this is real and painful for thousands of men (and some women, in recent years). It has been written about, called “visitation interference” and is the leading cause for parents who have poor relationships with their non custodial children, post breakup with the person in the relationship.
Society is not taught the tools anymore to be able to think of others in a way for people to overcome the unfairness of this system.
They just are not taught by and large the ways to cope with a system seemingly stacked against them.
I served as a Guardian ad Litem for a number of years. It was a volunteer position. There were many ghastly cases and I saw the worst that people can do to their children.
I saw the worst that some attorneys can suggest to do for children (usually in their own best interests). I also saw the worst intentions of people who wanted to ruin others’ lives in revenge plays.
I dealt with a system that was not equipped to properly help families and their children in the best ways for them. The court is limited in its ways and means in practical applications for family supports. What one judge thinks and believes is “how it works” in one county versus a diametrically different philosophy in another… and so on.
Family Court is largely unregulated.
This system needs an overhaul and regulations to bring it into a national standard of some sort.
Family Law truly is an area where “who one knows” and “money talks” still applies in 2019 when it comes to many courtrooms.
A documentary called Divorce Corp released in 2014 struck a deep chord with viewers, despite offending many experts who panned the film, saying it was “tabloid trash” and not realistic.
Viewers wrote hundreds of comments, claiming a deep resonance with what they witnessed in the documentary. Scores of people claimed they identified personally with what was shown, some saying almost identical situations happened in their own cases.
It’s interesting that the viewer rating sits at 8.1 while the “expert” rating is 3.
Perhaps awareness of the system and how it affecting the clientele isn’t very strong in those who serve it.
It is an outrage that this law system is yet in need of even the most basic reforms, regardless, 5 years later.
Any person with a strongly developed sense of justice? It can destroy them to deal with the family law system.
We need to realize this is reality of life for many men, women, and families in this situation before judging too harshly what is going on — what appears on the surface… the nasty stuff.
They likely are being railroaded in one way or another by greedy, money driven enterprises in our very own legal system.
We need to stand up for all parents and say, No, this is not right.
Demand a change and reforms.
Heather Wargo is a Medium Top Writer in Government, Privacy, Politics, Health, and Social Media. She is a freelance writer and advocate for incurable painful disease patients and physicians affected by governmental overreach.
Heather Wargo has been published by The Western Journal, Lifesite News, The Startup, The Ascent, P.S. I Love You, Publishous, Uncalendared, The Writer’s Cooperative and Writer’s Guild.
She is a member in good standing of the Society of Professional Journalists.
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