Child Support: My Story

The issue of child support is a touchy one. This will be a three part issue. The first part will be my story, the second will be a man’s story and the third will be a woman’s story. I’m going to explore multiple sides about the importance of child support and give you truth here. This may be a trigger post for some of you. So, if it is, please stay off my page with your drama. I am all about trying to equalize the argument for the benefits for financially supporting your children.

Many people see child support as a bad thing. It’s deemed the devil because many states require a man to pay 1/3 or more of his salary supporting a “lazy momma” while being denied visitation or being forced to work multiple jobs to even live.  Others see it as the only way to make a man financially responsible for his child while checking out emotionally. It is a vicious cycle and in reality there are some truths to both sides. Let’s discuss the reality.

In reality, children require more than just love to grow into healthy adults. It takes money. Can your child live without clothes, medical, dental, food or shelter? Nope.

Okay, good. Now, before you start saying that I’m pro the destruction of the man, stop it. I’m not. Women who don’t raise their children should also pay child support. I believe that everyone has a financial responsibility for their children.

For the record, I don’t get nor have I ever filed child support against my ex-husband. He doesn’t get it either. In fact, we agreed that we would equally split expenses for our son. So, I have no “skin” in the game to protect any financial support you think I may be getting.

Now, the difference between me and some other women is that I can afford to take care of my son without his father’s help. It’s not a bad thing. It’s reality. I’ve been blessed to have a great career that allows me both the financial and emotional means to be present for my son. However, I recognize that not everyone can say that they are as fortunate. Some women and men actually need the financial support of the other parent.

 

When I was growing up, my dad was ordered to pay $200 a month in child support for three kids. Yes, I said that right – three kids. Ask me how many checks we received?

Zero.

Not one.

My dad lived his life getting paid under the table. He avoided paying child support like it was a contagious disease. He refused to catch it.

Did he feel bad? In my opinion no. Anyone that avoids the financial support of their child doesn’t have a conscious. Therefore, they can’t feel bad for not doing for their child. Combine that with the fact that he lived in another state and didn’t see us and you have the trifecta of a poor example as a father.

He was not present. Financially, emotionally, spiritually or any form or fashion. We were a non-factor in his life. The life he lived in avoidance.

So, I watched my mother struggle. Struggle to put clothes on our back and food on our table. Struggle to work multiple jobs and go to school so she could provide a better life for us.

I imagined that the better life she was working on would provide better clothes, better shoes and more of an opportunity to have her present. See, when a person doesn’t take care of their children, it leaves the other parent to take care of the slack. But, it took two people to create that child. How come one person gets to slack on their responsibility?

 

Because of that hard life of learning to survive in spite of my circumstances, I worked hard. I didn’t want children. I wouldn’t bring a child into this world without being able to support them on my own. I would never give anyone that power to determine the fate of my child/children.

I would be better than that.

And I did. I worked hard to get my career off the ground. Even when my marriage ended and I had to re-shift my focus, it became about the most important asset in my life. My Munch. He was more important than any job or my career. I needed him to know that.

So, I spoke up. I told my employers during the interview stage that I am a mom first. That it is just me and that I will always be there for my son. I won’t miss school plays, programs or games. I will be present on the first day of school and every day thereafter. I only have him for a short time before he is released into the world, hopefully making it a better place.

My responsibilities were to my son first.  My employers understood. They respected my decision. So, I continued to rise in my career without sacrificing because I was a mother. I have been very fortunate to have that.

Even this summer when I had to adjust my schedule to get my son to and from camp. I called on my village and they helped out. My supervisor understood that I had camp that started at 9 am and there was no before care. I didn’t get to work until 9:45 am. My mother went in early and took off to pick up Munch from camp at 3pm.

I take off to take him to doctor’s appointments, to volunteer in his school, attend his programs (like the art camp) or if he’s sick. My supervisor allows flexibility because it’s just me. I need it. My mother didn’t have that. She had me.

I missed school if my siblings were sick. She had to work. We had to take care of each other.

I’m not ignorant to the fact that Munch has the best of both worlds…a mother that can afford to provide and a mother that is present. This is in direct contrast with what I experienced, but experience taught me. I chose to be a mother and I chose to have a career and thankfully I am able to have them both.

The lack of child support or financial means pushed me to work harder and become more determined to not be another statistic. We needed the financial support from my dad, but we lived and thrived in spite of. No one should ever have to be in that position.

-Part 2: His View On Child Support is Next-

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Dead Beat Parents

Okay, so I have a bone to pick with dead beat parents. The ones that know that they have children and they do nothing to financially support their children. This applies to both male and female parents. I’m not picking on one gender.

Let me explain this clearly…

It costs money to raise children. You can’t raise children on sunshine and rainbows. Can they eat that? No. Can they walk to school or catch the bus on cotton balls? No. They need shoes. They can’t go to school naked. They need clothes.

I don’t care if you make minimum wage or a million dollars you have to provide for your children. That is a parent’s responsibility. Don’t want to be a parent? Don’t have sex. EVER. Why not? Because it is a possibility that you could become one.

I will NEVER EVER believe that it is okay for a parent to shirk their financial obligations to their children. The minute they were formed in that woman’s womb and you knew you were going to be a parent you should step up and do more. It is possible. Anything’s possible.

I provide support for my son. My ex-husband provides support for our son. It is not 50/50, but it’s acceptable. I provide my son’s health, dental and vision expenses solely. We split childcare. When my son is with him he feeds and clothes him. When he’s with me, I do the same.

I provide about 60% of my son’s care. This means that I pay for all his activities (swim lessons, guitar lessons, soccer, etc) and supplies (guitar, soccer cleats, balls, swim trunks, etc). I buy school supplies and tennis shoes. His dad buys school clothes. His dad isn’t working at the moment, but is still keeping up his end of the bargain with getting his son’s hair cut, feeding and clothing him.

Oh and he does the extras that I admire even though he’s not working. Being available to take him to doctors/dentists appointments on my week, following the school bus the first day of school to make sure that his son got on the right bus and got off the bus, getting his hair cut and splitting childcare expenses.

Now, if my ex-husband who is not working and is able to provide why the hell can’t some of these dead beat parents do the same? I mean what is the issue. I don’t care if you have to get a part-time job or sell yourself on the side to make ends meet you should always be able to provide something for your child. There is no excuse.

What’s even worse is that some of these parents think this is acceptable parenting. Let me help you…It’s not. When you don’t pay child support and you don’t have custody of your child it is a damn shame that you don’t buy your kids school clothes, tennis shoes, birthday or Christmas gifts. You then sit up there and act like you’re parent of the year.

You are not! You’re a joke. You need to step up and do better. Male or female. You need to know that these children have needs and you need to be able to meet those needs. Financially.

Okay, rant over!

To Pay or Not to Pay

This post was inspired by Violet’s post Who pays?

I’m a progressive woman and some of my friends think that I’m wrong, but I will offer to pay for my own meals when going out with men. Gasp!

Why would you ever do that? A man should always pay? Are you serious, you’re setting us back by offering to split the check? 

Really? I’m setting us back? Some women believe so.

However, I was raised to always have enough money to pay your own bill. On the first date, I will offer to split the check and most (99.5%) of the time a man will decline and pay. I’m always thankful to those that do and even for those that don’t. Why? Because I’m sure there’s a reason that we will never have a second date.

Understand this about me…I don’t depend or require a man to pay for dates. Maybe because I was raised to always be able to afford to pay for my own meal (so I wouldn’t have to put out) or maybe it’s because I think you should at least offer. I like chivalry. I like when a man pays. But, the circumstances were different during times in my life.

When I was younger, a man always paid (post college). When we were both struggling college students, we split the check. In reality, most of the men that I dated while I was in college worked full-time so they paid consistently. But, if I went out with a cute guy from my class we ate cheaply. I didn’t think he wasn’t a gentleman because we split the check. We were both poor and struggling college students. No judgement ever crossed my mind.

Now, as an adult in her 40’s, I would expect a man to pay the majority of the time. Not all the time. The majority of the time.

Why not all the time? Because a man my age has expenses just like I do. I don’t expect him to pay every time we go out if we are consistently dating. Consistently would mean over four consecutive dates in a month. I will usually offer to pay for the date after the 4th date and every so often. I told you that I’m progressive.

Take Mr. C and I for instance. We’ve been dating since October. He pays for the majority of our dates (95%). I offer to pay for dates or if we go out after dinner for drinks, I pay for drinks. Not hard to do. Yes, he makes more than I do, but he has expenses too and I want him to know that I value his time and money spent and show him that I’m not selfish.

What? Selfish? Humph!

Yes, selfish ladies. You see, I want to show Mr. C, that I am his partner and that I want to be someone who doesn’t mind pulling out her wallet. Not to emasculate him, but to show him that I enjoy spending time with him and that I don’t mind spending my own money when we go out.

He said to me that he had never had a woman EVER pay for anything. Really? Not even birthday dinners? Barely, if that. Wow! I couldn’t believe it.

Now, some of you are probably thinking, well T I can make him dinner but I shouldn’t have to pay. You know what I would say? The money you spent on buying the food could have been used to take him bowling or paying for dinner.

How can we convince a man that we are able to be his partner if we aren’t willing to invest during the get to know you stage? Oh wait, we’re going to show him that we are marriage material after we’re married? How will that work?

 

To be continued tomorrow….

Financial Intimacy

I fell in love the first time. I’m walking the next time. – A.W.

Heard the above quote on Monday and I was like “Yes”. That’s what I’ve been trying to say. So, here’s the background…

Mr. K and I were talking last week about what I call financial intimacy. I was stressing the importance of financial intimacy when he was discussing the issues in his first marriage. I explained that we had similar stories and that is why I believe in financial intimacy.  I explained the concept to him.

Financial intimacy occurs when you and your partner have reached a point in your relationship where you decide to take it to the next level. Whatever that level may be for you. You sit down and provide your full financial picture: i.e. current credit reports, any loans you owe (mortgage, car, student), credit cards, etc. You produce a full financial picture with your partner to share before you take that next step. In my case, it would be engagement, because I’m not shacking up. (Thankfully, he doesn’t either)

What I’m saying is that before you get engaged you need to be intimate financially with each other. You should make sure that you and your partner are aware of the back story before getting engaged. Don’t waste time or money on an engagement ring if you don’t know everything about your partner. It could make for a costly situation.

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Call it years of knowledge, or trial by fire, but many people who’ve gone through a marriage and a divorce that cost them financially will agree that you want to walk into any other situation with your eyes wide open. Not falling with your eyes wide shut.

Heap of money with wedding cake topper

Can you imagine marrying your soul mate only to find out that they are $250,000 in debt? Nope. But, it is real. It happens all the time. But, let me tell you one of the top reasons for divorce….money.

Yep, you know it. Why? Because before we get engaged, we don’t do pre-engagement counseling to determine whether or not we are compatible. It’s counseling before you get engaged. I heard this from a classmate who did it and started researching it. I was like…Yep! This is what everyone needs to do.

I wish I had known about it before I took the plunge. Heck, I’m sure he wished he knew about it too. Once we got engaged and the ring sat on my finger, it seemed that problems were not always handled effectively. One of us was compromising to the point we were dismissing potential landmines so that we could get married. It was about the wedding and getting through to that day so we could live blissfully ever after.

That didn’t work. I don’t remember the financial piece in our pre-marital counseling, but I’m telling you that it in no way prepared us for living, working and paying bills together. We had one philosophy…separate accounts. We tried the first year of marriage to have joint accounts but we had different philosophies on spending that contributed to the stress in our relationship. We loved each other so we didn’t want to argue over money. We thought by keeping separate accounts we could live in bliss. However, after year 10 he wanted to try joint accounts again. I was determined not too. Too many issues already. It became worse.

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I’ve learned some things since I last said I do and that is the importance of financial intimacy. No secrets. No hesitation. No regrets. No entering into a situation where I wish I had been prepared. I don’t want a debt that WE didn’t create. You can love all you want with your heart, but you don’t want to pay in the end with your pockets. It can cause resentment.

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Until next time!

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Tell Me the Truth

“Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.” ― Barbara De Angelis 

I am by all accounts a truthful person. I have integrity. I have morals and values. I’m a person who believes in service. A kind and compassionate woman who will share and tell you the honest truth about everything. I am not ashamed of my past or how I arrived at my present. Every injury, wound or scab is a testimony to how God has protected me along the way. This is me.

So, how does being a truthful person bode for me in dating situations? Not well. Because even though I value honesty, integrity and truth-telling, others don’t. I have learned so much from both men and women about dating that I literally could write a book and it wouldn’t even scratch the surface of this Rubik’s cube. There are rules about everything. However, what is consistent with all men is that you can’t tell women the truth about your financial status while dating.

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Men seem to think that women can’t handle the truth about their financial status while dating. Why? Because no woman wants to hear that a man has financial obligations, such as alimony, child support, college tuition or his own personal expenses that are preventing him from paying for dates like a woman wants. They explain to me that these normal expenses greatly reduce a man’s chances of getting a call back for a second date if they were to be honest about their financial obligations.

Men Say:

 

If you tell a woman that money is a little tight because you had an unexpected expense of $1,000 for your car or a medical expense it is met with attitude about you being broke and never taking her anywhere. No matter how good-looking, nice, loyal or emotionally supportive a man can be to a woman, they believe that women want the fantasy. Not the reality of a man’s financial situation.  He’s just like you…broke but taking care of business.

Are women truly that shallow? I’m having a hard time believing that to be true, however, a lot of men seem to think so. I’ve heard multiple men say that if they told women that they like them and would like a relationship with them, but understand that they have financial obligations that may prevent them from weekly date nights, that the women wouldn’t understand. We would classify them as broke and not a viable option.

Here’s an excerpt of a conversation I had with one of my friends yesterday:

“Majority (51%) of women don’t want to hear about what you can’t do. I told you I have had that conversation with a woman I was dating and she said, “Well maybe you should think about whether or not you can afford to date me or date period.” All people want to be with someone. So we know that MOST (51%) women want you to show them a good time even though MOST (51%) women won’t show you a good time. I have heard women complain about money and being short with money but it is okay for them to be short on money and not have enough to make ends meet but it is not okay for me to do it? RIIIIGHT.. My on-line dating profile has a heading that reads “Good Credit Broke Brothers Need Love Too”.

So, what I want to know is how did we get here? When did a hardworking, loyal and trustworthy man (who may be broke) not even register with us women? What changed? Was it the economy or reality television that changed our attitudes about men? Could it be that reality TV has clouded our judgement and willingness to dismiss a good man for something bigger and better?

Now, let me be clear and say that there is nothing wrong with wanting anything. But, if a man has or does all that he can and is just broke are we quick to dismiss him? You know that old thing where we don’t want to waste our time. Or do we believe that we are settling?

Probably. However I can say that as someone who has done the marriage thing before what really matters at the end of the day…someone who is genuinely happy to see you. Someone who adores you and knows that his life was made better because you’re in it. You make him a better man and he is strong enough, smart enough and compassionate enough to deal with “all your multiple personalities”.

There is nothing wrong with desiring a life better than your current one. We all want what we want.  We want a happy and healthy functioning relationship from someone who just gets us. Someone who can take us on dates, buy us little meaningful gifts and romance us like in the days of our parents.  But, at the end of the day, are you truly settling when you find someone who tells you that you make them a better man each day just by waking up?

Not at all.

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