Yolanda is sick of her situation. She’s going to college, working a full-time job, and taking care of her 9-month old. She’s frustrated, irritated, and upset. Why can’t she get a break? Yolanda grows angrier by the minute. Her ex-husband gives her nothing for their son but feels entitled to everything. These realities continue to plague Yolanda. She wonders if her life will ever change.
Why is there so much drama associated with child support? What sane person wouldn’t advocate the protection of a child? However, the mention of child support generates rage and bitter feelings among people. Yet, the issues of child support are very common to most women as married couples separate and fight over this concern. As a deacon of my church, I am very familiar with this matter. In fact, I also have a personal connection with my immediate and extended family. From my perspective, if people bring children into the world, they should take care of them. Supporting a child is serious business anyway. When a person becomes a parent, his or her needs are secondary, not primary. Therefore, adults should conduct themselves with maturity. This can be related biblically, “When I was a child, I thought as a child but when I became a man, I put childish things away.” This article is about how to take personal control over the situation in order to move forward.
The Real Problem
Child support has become a growing concern in America. According to a 2002 US Census, there were 13.4 million custodian parents taking care of 21.4 million children under the age of 21 years old. Approximately, 5 out of 6 custodian parents were mothers (84.4%) and 1
in 6 were fathers (15.6%). This reality leaves most women leading households alone. Additionally, 50% of individuals who pay child support are under 40 years old. Also, men pay a medium of $3,600 annually to support their children. Furthermore, the following methods are the most common ways individuals obtain child support: (a) wage withholding (33.8%), direct payment to parent (31.7%), direct payment to child support agency (14.38%), direct payment to court (17.7%), and other means (2.4%).
For many caregivers receiving child support is not an easy process. Payments are normally given for food, educational expenses, and daycare; the payments are usually made until the child turns 18 years old. Approximately only 17% of child support agreements make no provision for health care of children. Many parents feel that addressing child support issues can be overwhelming. For example, DaVett Jones has two daughters and is an assistant to a financial analyst. She sympathizes with other single parents because of her own experiences with this subject. DaVett never demanded child support from her children’s father or sought legal actions: “…I take what I get, which isn’t much. By that I mean I’ve never received more than $200 per month for two kids.”
Kennard Patton, a Texas manager, always seeks to get along with others. He has a reputation of being easy going. He is married and has two sons. He could have faced the issue of child support with one of the son’s mothers. However, he managed to work through the matter peacefully with her. Other men do not have this luck of a peaceful compromise. In fact, some men get very upset with having to pay child support. Some don’t mind handling their responsibilities but resent the fact they are forced to comply. Other men have no desire to support their off springs. Therefore, this issue can get nasty. Patton explains it does not need to get nasty: “Well to start the best way to avoid being put on child support is for the man to step up and be a father to his child. Meaning taking care of and supporting his child physically and financially.”
This reality of no child support can make an individual bitter. Yet, Jones has found the power to cope with her situation: “I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to provide for them with minimal help. Sometimes I kick and moan…We’ve never been homeless, hungry, or had to walk. I give God the glory for my supporting my children.” Likewise, individuals can take steps to move in a more positive direction. The following are some solutions:
Identify the real problems, not symptoms.
Confront the circumstance head on.
Set aside time for meditation, bible study, and devotion to strengthening your spirituality.
Research the issues of child support and parental rights.
Seek to peacefully resolve any personal differences related to child support.
Determine the alternatives if child support cannot be resolved.
Surround yourself with positive people and individuals who share your vision.
Keep a positive attitude even in the midst of confusion.
The Path Forward
Will the issues of child support continue to haunt society? Parents who have a child together must be able to communicate; the child support concern may not disappear anytime soon. Unfortunately, some circumstances can escalate and eventually explored if people are not careful. Therefore, good communications is critical. In this article, Jones and Patton are good examples of working through this matter thoughtfully. Therefore, child support concerns must be handled by mature people. Good communications, personal integrity, and selflessness can provide a tremendous roadmap for better relationships. Given these perquisites, individuals need to ask themselves a question, “Who’s going to be the bigger person?” Parents do not need to feel like victims. They can move forward regardless of the lack of financial support from the child’s other parent. It’s really about making decisions that will propel a parent and his or her child toward a better life.