“It is easier to build strong children then to repair broken men.” `Frederick Douglas
This month’s topic is going to bring me some heat…but I’m ready. As I was doing research for my last article on Welfare and how it negatively affects the Black community, my research led me to another hot topic, child support. You’ve read right, CHILD SUPPORT! CHILD SUPPORT! CHILD SUPPORT!
Before I get started I would like to add a disclaimer: I am not mother but I do have a step-daughter who lives with me and my husband full-time and by choice we do not ask her mother for child support. So before anyone makes the assumption that I don’t I know the costs of taking care of a child, I do. In addition to my personal knowledge and on-line research I’ve also interviewed both a mother and a father (of different children) to get both sides of the story before writing this article.
Child support programs were implemented to encourage absent parents (man and woman but my focus in this article will focus on fathers) to be an active part in their children’s lives. That is what they tell us. However, these so-called programs have done the exact opposite and has caused a divide in Black communities across the United States. Child support effects many families but my focus is the effects it has on Black families…because that’s what I do (lol). Black men have a high percentage rate of having children out of wedlock. Right away, there is a divide in the family .So you can look at child support as somewhat of a punishment for not being married to your child’s mother. Some of these men take care of their children and some of them don’t. Then there comes a point where the woman feels like she needs her child’s father to do a little more and she gets the system involved and puts him on child support. Now the systematic racism begins.
This article’s purpose isn’t to justify a man for not taking care of his child financially and emotionally. I am not giving “fathers” a way out. But let’s be real, there is an imbalance where child support is concerned. I’ve seen it too many times: A father who works two jobs, can’t afford rent so he moves in with his parents, can’t afford a vehicle so he rides the bus. He can’t afford these things, not because he is lazy and refuses to work but because child support garnishes more than half of his earnings.
Now let’s cross the fence. His child’s mother lives in a decent home, drives a nice vehicle, has designer clothes and her hair and nails are always done. His child….his child has the basic necessities. These two parents’ are in the same income brackets but are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. How is this benefiting the child? A man who cannot take care of himself is not going to feel like a man. How does he feel when he has to take the bus to pick us his child and bring that child back to his parents’ house? He feels emasculated. A man who feels like he can’t be a man in front of his child will distance himself from that child.
Let’s review another angle: The man is fed-up with child support because he cannot get ahead. He begins to have feelings of regret for having a child at all. That love turns into resentment because he cannot progress in his life. The more money he makes the more they take, not to mention the money he spends on his child when he’s there with him. So he quits his job. He’ll make more money under the table. Child support is still accruing and eventually the man loses his driver license (depending on the state). The situation escalades and he gets locked up either because of his child support or because he was involved in illegal activity to help support himself. How does this scenario help the child?
Both scenarios are true stories from the two people I interviewed. The most successful stories I’ve heard where from those parents who co-parent without bringing in the state.
In most states, child support is allocated toward housing, health insurance, food, utilities, transportation and child care. During my research, I watched a video, “Shocking Facts in the Child Support System Exposed by Breakthrough Study”. The study was conducted by the University of California which reveals that household expenses do not increase by much with an addition of a child. So why are utilizes and transportation and other household expenses being calculated in child support when these said expenses are the similar prior to the child arriving?
I am not one-hundred percent against child-support but I do think it should be realigned so that it benefits all parties involved, especially the child. I also think parents collecting child support should show how the funds are distributed being that the punishment for NOT paying is so harsh. It should be mandatory for the collecting parent to show that funds were in-fact spent on the child and not residual income used for the mother to get “fancy”. Child support should also be tax-deductible. It is something to be said about a system that allows the collecting parent to collect tax-free money and receive an income tax return every year but the paying parent is taxed those same funds as earned income.
Adults should also be responsible when choosing parents for their children. If you were not raped, you made the choice to get pregnant or to impregnate someone whether it was an accident or intentional.
Regardless, of the situation women and men who are grown enough to produce children should be grown enough to take care of these children without the influence of the state. Government programs are not designed to encourage advancement, especially within Black communities. If child support takes half of a man’s earnings what other choices does he have but to drop completely of the grid or make illegal money? There is no way for him to get ahead to even put himself in the position to take better care of his child.
In the end, the most important factor is the livelihood of the child and although I am not against putting a man unwilling to care financially for his child, the system has showed that it has not and will not be an incentive for a man to play a more physical role in his child’s life. As parents, you have to ask yourself if money is more important than a father. The Black community cannot afford to turn on one another. It’s important to look at the bigger picture and realize that these programs are implemented with the objective to divide Black families.
“Please stop talking about how much fathers “need to step up” without talking about how the game is rigged against them in the first place”. ~Unknown
Toni Larue is an author, entrepreneur and women’s empowerment advocate. She is the author of fiction novels, Abandoned Secrets (available now) and No Kissing (release date TBD), and the co-owner and COO of Team Jon Doe Management and Entertainment and Sounwave Music.