I am pro child support enforcement in a very serious way, not just when it’s convenient to be or when the non-custodial parent is egregiously in the arrears. I am the one who shakes her head when the city bus rolls by with the advertisement from the local CSE agency on the side. On the ad, the dad is playing with his kids and the caption says: “Child Support – It’s not just about the money”. The heck it ain’t! Of course it’s about the money. Anybody who tells you that it’s not about the money is either in denial or is lying to you as they attempt to deflect from the obligations that a non-custodial parent has with the custodial parent and his kids. Newsflash: A dad spending time with his kids is called parenting. It’s called being a dad. It’s called doing the same thing that the mom is expected to do, day in and day out. If you are a non-custodial parent then that means visitation time. Don’t shoot the messenger – I didn’t create the definitions; define the roles nor how they play out. What I am doing is pointing out the difference between a financial obligation and a moral one. While we can’t force a parent to act like one, we can certainly force them to pay for the kids that they created when and if they decide to bail.
I am pro child support enforcement when two people who have had children together, for whatever their personal reasons, decide that they will not be parenting together. Their reasons are immaterial. Ill-conceived childbearing, contraception failure, one-night stands, marriages which didn’t last through year one or year 15 – none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that there are children born of these unions. And if we continue to pretend that evading child support obligations is not harmful to women then that pretense in itself is harmful to women. As long as we remain quiet on this issue, the violence of the silence will continue. Women will continue to suffer and I, for one, think it’s past time that I put reasons down on paper of why supporting women – and not just the kids in the child support collection process, is what we must do…and why.
Top 5 reasons why we must support child support enforcement for women and not just the kids:
1. I am pro child support enforcement because a woman who lacks financial means, lacks the means to manage her life. If a mom depends on that child support check coming in order to support the household, any plans, dreams, aspirations, responsibilities or commitments – no matter how important – have a great big contingency clause built: “if my child support check comes”. If the child support check doesn’t come, it’s likely to throw her life into a tailspin as she robs Peter to pay Paul, and hopefully she won’t lose her childcare because then she could lose her job.
2. I am pro child support enforcement because it gives moms an opportunity to give their kids a healthier start in life. Moms who are not stressed out about bill-paying and food-buying have less of their brain RAM clogged up on the minutia of life and are able to spend more time being present in the moment with their kids. They are better able to be moms who kiss toes, help with homework, and ask about the school day. They are moms who are more financially and emotionally ready to seek preventative medical care and provide the type of loving engagement that helps young brains to develop.
3. I am pro child support enforcement because I take motherhood seriously. If a woman has children as a result of a one-night stand, rape, bad contraception, or broken relationship, the most transforming thing that she can do is to step up to the plate to be the mother that her kids need. If she has survived pushing a baby out of her woo-ha and has dedicated the next twenty-odd years of her life (give or take a few) to her children, to blow off a child support obligation trivializes motherhood and parenthood. She needs all of the focus, patience, attention, persistence, social support, mental health, and money…yes, money, that she can get.
4. I am pro child support enforcement because it can lift women and children out of poverty or out of the hamster wheel. The rate of single mothers living in poverty with their children continues to rise. 4.1 million or 41.5% of single mothers live in impoverished conditions. These are not just the uneducated or the undereducated “other” people. These are moms from all walks of life who found themselves in a situation.
5. I am pro child support enforcement because contraceptives can be imperfect. To place the full responsibility on the mother when conception occurs is misogynistic. As the saying goes – it takes two to tango and mom certainly did not dance alone. If you are willing to have intercourse, then you have to accept that conception is a possibility – no contraceptive is fool-proof and pregnancies occur within the context of a marriage and outside of a marriage. The sperm and the egg are not aware of the parties marital status and do not ask many questions.
BONUS REASON: I am pro child support enforcement because of the kids, dagnabbit! The morality is that these kids are beings who can think and feel pleasure and pain. They know what it’s like to love and be loved and they know when they are being blown off and disregarded. They know when they are hungry and when the light bill hasn’t been paid. They know when they want to join gymnastics and they can’t because mom doesn’t have the money. They know when their existence is valued and when they are not valued enough. They know that child support enforcement either enhances their lives or take away from it, even if they do not have a name for what they are experiencing. They know.
Are you pro child support enforcement? Why or why not?
Do you equate child support enforcement with being in support of women?
Is child support and spending time with one’s children the same?
Please share your thoughts by commenting below.
Wishing you the best as you support women and children through the child support process,