Support the Child

CapCity made a comment about brothers paying their child support, then asked if I had a take on it. Like I told her, I have paid my share of child support. I have not always been on time, but I never once thought of not paying. It was an ever pressing thought despite my leaving to attend college the same year my oldest daughter was born.

During those early years, I sent as much as I could afford and my parents filled in where they could since they kept her practically every weekend. Once I graduated, my checks to her mother became more frequent, but beefs between my daughter's mother, myself and her then husband kept me from seeing my daughter unless my parents got involved. So I saw her as much as my work schedule would allow and after a couple years home following college, I moved to Atlanta. I continued to send the amount her mother and I agreed was fair, but I eventually got hit with an order of support. Luckily, I kept receipts, because she painted me as a dead beat. She even told the state she couldn't find me and as it turned out was getting checks from me and the State for a number of years. Again, good thing I kept receipts, because it kept me from having to pay the State of Florida thousands in restitution. Long story short, my payments doubled due to the order and the fact that I was single.

Once I got married and had kids from my wife, I still had to pay a disproportionate amount regardless of what my financial situation brought. Nevertheless, I found a way to pay, even if it meant having to make some lump sum payments after a stretch of unemployment and then self employment. During that time, her mother only called if I delayed in paying. I never got copies of report cards or the opportunity to share in celebratory moments. I was just a means to an end. I was angry many times over the course of those years since I never had custodial rights and outside of a weekend here and a weekend there, the most time I got to spend with my daughter for many years was a summer visit in 1994 and a Christmas visit in 2000 (mainly due to my daughter pushing for it). Her mother made no qualms about telling me she could care less if I ever spent time with her. Come to find out, she was still angry with me for getting her pregnant in the first place. I didn't find this out until my daughter was a teenager. Talk about holding grudges.

My daughter is now 23 and our relationship is a lot better because I don't have to deal with her mother. We talk from time to time and despite having four other kids, when I can be a help, I look to lend a hand financially. Now that she is grown, that is not often, but she knows I'll help her if she needs it.

One last interesting point. My 19 yr old, who isn't my daughter biologically, has a dad who only paid child support for about a year since I came on the scene. I've been in her life since she was five, and when he realized he couldn't get with my wife, he faded to black.

So, when CapCity asked for my take on why brothers don't pay their child support. I tried to think of all the things brothers experience and their feelings behind why they might do what they do. Here is what I came up with. As you will see, even I think some of them are poor excuses, and yet some may be solid enough for some men to stand on.


I don’t pay because YOU decided to have our child
It's your body
You only offered me some a$$

The system is no place for a black man to be
I denounce the voice that tries to define
My manhood on the basis of economic
Enslavement to this Fascist society
That’s why I don’t pay

She got me messed up, I ain’t paying her to lay
Up with the next man
I’ll take care of my kids, but I ain’t taking care of her
Give me my kids and I’ll raise them myself
But I ain’t giving her one thin dime

I’ve looked for a job consistently for the last 9 months
I have no pride left
I’ll do whatever
She won’t let me see my kids until I’m able to bring her some
Can’t take the place of me in their life

Oh, so she can struggle, but I can’t
After I pay for rent, lights, and food, ain’t nothing left.
I’m trying to stay out these streets but away from me
My shorty, she keeps

It ain’t mine
I never had her on lock
Baby don’t look like me
Check the dude up the block

Black women get jobs
At the drop of a dime
Brothers like me
Better off having never done time
Child support says I got to pay a grip
Can make enough legit
Back to jail I go
If I return to loading the clip

No ass
No back pocket stash

I feel like a failure.
I can't live with not being able to provide
This system has emasculated me
And I hide from the shame.

Really I can’t say why brothers fail to take care of their kids
The reasons are few to many
Some don't add up to much
The truth is that the excuses don’t matter
The real crime and pain
Occurs when lives are absent
And identity is lost


Lovebabz said...

I can hear the love and commitment in your post. My husband had a daughter from his previous marriage and it was rocky--he like you, kept every reciept. She is grown now too. My husband and I have 4 children and when he moved out, he immediately created a support plan and has not missed a beat. There are some decent men who stand up to their responsibilities. Your story is one that is never heard or even believed to exist. Cheers to you for representing a whole bunch of Brothers who do this everyday without fail and without compliments.

LadyShay said...

It's always nice to see a man take care of their child regardless of their thick headed baby mama:) Both sides of the story always have those excuses and blames, and only the child suffers.

Sharon said...

Before I begin, my apologies if this becomes more of a post than a comment ;)

I am the mother of a son who is now 18 years old. Having become pregnant as a result of a casual relationship (I learned my lesson ;), when asked, I declined to marry my son's father. Instead, we agreed to jointly raise and support my son once he was born. In a nutshell, his father reneged and in the first two years of my son's life he only provided diapers once and babysat on 3 occasions.

In an attempt to have some "time off", I saw a lawyer hoping to force him to take my son off my hands sometime. Informed that there was no legal means of doing that, the lawyer suggested I file for support reasoning that when forced to pay support, most men want to "see" where their money is going. As a pharmacist who was making a very good living at the time, I never had filed before. My son's father (a pharmacist as well) would not respond to the court mailings and ultimately an order of support was issued and mandated from day one to be withheld through payroll deductions. The sad thing was that I never wanted the support, only an occassional break and a father for my son.

Eighteen years later though we live less than a half-hour's drive apart, he and my son still have no relationship--his father's choice and I am still saddened by this. I wrote a post about this subject called "Word to the Absent Father" a few years back, maybe I'll repost it over on CapCha U in Love with Life.

He was one of the best people I ever knew for a long time, and because of this situation I now have no respect for him. However, even still, I would never attempt to keep my son from him in the event he showed interest though I believe at this point my son no longer has interest. Its funny how it seemed he would do anything for me until the time came that he actually had some responsibility/obligation; then, it was like I was dealing with a whole other person.

Go figure.

Mizrepresent said...

Kudo's to you Rich, i can tell how hard it was, and yet you did what was required, and over and above. I see many, men and women both suffer from this act. It was the most disturbing discussion in my breakup...and still remains a sore subject.

CapCity said...

Thank U, Brother Rich for giving voice to this perspective of our men. So often we ONLY hear the female RESPONSE about the men with whom they lay/bear children. I grew up with a father who began having children w/ my mother when he was 17 and had FOUR of us strong-willed li'l heffers by the time he was 28! SHEWWW! I couldn't EVEN imagine! LOL! After their divorce my father is the one who took my mother to court to establish child support so she couldn't play those petty emotional games (well, she did anyway - but least he had PROOF! ;-). My DAD has been here as MUCH as HE could - sometimes it required exiting our back door so my mother wouldn't start ANOTHER fight - but we were "fighting" for time w/ our DADDY (I swear fact is WAYYY more fascinating than fiction!!)!

thanx again, Bruh!

Brittanie Williams said...

Thanks Dad...I love you. And just incase you didn't know, this is most definitely your 19 year old daughter. You don't understand how grateful I am that you are in my life. Forget the monetary situation, but I am blessed to have you as a father-figure... someone who is constantly there to say "I love You"


Rich said...

As Don would say "Off Top"

@Britt - thanks sweetheart. I didn't know you "lurked" around my blog too. Now I really have to watch what I say.

@lovebabz - it sounds like that although the two of you have your differences, he still remains a standup dude. That's good to have.

@ladyshay - ain't that the truth

@sharon - you are right, most men do get involved once their money gets pulled into play. That's what happened with my 19 yr old. Dude called practically EVERY day when he was paying child support. You would have thought he was a Jehovah's Witness the way we dodged those calls at times. (no disrespect to audience members)

However, based on what you said about this guy, sounds like he was married or had someone laying in the cut who was pressing him. Not sure if any of that ever came to the surface, but that's what it looks like from here. But, even if he was, that is a weak way to go out. I'm glad your son has a strong mother who's stood in the gap all these years.

@Miz - don't trip off him. It's the relationship with his kids that he will realize is being jeopardized because they are old enough to see what momma has to go through when he's not willing to step up.

@Cap - you know I can't wait to meet your Pops, when we get to DC. He has to be one heck of a dude because you are always singing his praises. That's cool.

shelia said...

People don't realize it's not fair to the child to keep the child away from the other parent. Regardless, it seems like you did do your part and that's to be commended. Too many of my sisters try to use the child to hold on or control their ex and in the end the child suffers. Fortunately for you, you and your daughter are able to have a good relationship; but some folks aren't so lucky. I can't say it's just my sisters doing it; I do know of cases where the man has sole custody and they do the same thing.

Men should not use the excuse they are no longer with the mother as an excuse; nor should they use the fact that the woman won't let them see the child. Do for the child just because and in the end, the truth will come out. Save those receipts; keep a journal of dates, etc. Do what you have to do.

Good post.

Ticia said...

Aww, I am touched!
I appreciated reading this... just another connection to your life and your story....

Peace :)

Shai said...

Wow! What a touching post. Rich, I am glad you did not allow excuses to stop you from doing what you could for your daughter. I am sure she has learned what her mom did and knows you did your best.

As a single mother, I have no problem with the finances, even if I could get more. I never went to court, before she was born when he entered the military, he told them he had a dependent. So for 17 almost 18 years, payment comes by way of the US gov every month.

What I have a problem with is the other types of support a co-parent should contribute like emotional, mental and spiriutal. It hurts a child when a parent is not available especially if the other parent wants them to interact.

Tony OH said...

Dude, me and RDB both raised our boys to the head and didn't get nathan from the mothers in child support. I thought i was a phenomenon but then the RDB got stuck and 19 years later this fool son of mine wanna go stay with the chicken. And she only called him twice a year, Christmas and Birthdays. Trifling bro, now she wanna try and tell him how I used to be when I was young to try and steal away all that I put into him in the way of morals and substance, Trifling Bro, Trifling.I'm like showing this young brother how to be a man and she wants to poison it by spoiling him materialistically to make up for the times she wasn't there. Trifling Bro, trifling.

CapCity said...

i HAD to come back to check out the comments;-). That comment from your daughter is a treasure, Rich (but i know u know that;-)! Yea, I think u'll enjoy meeting my Daddy! I know I can't wait to see how that event's going to be - he likes the venue I picked!

Tony OH - I have a girlfriend who once had to pay child support since she didn't fight her son's father & agreed to let him live w/ his dad. of course, everyone thinks she's nuts - but she does lots of unconventional stuff which is why i luv her! Regarding your son's mom talking smack about U - trust ME on this: HE KNOWS the truth in his heart. Don't trip on her - let him discover who she REALLY is - just as U seem to have despite what lured U;-): all that glitters can't blind him from her REALITY. Hang onto the Faith, my good man!

Rich said...

@ Tony Oh - don't sweat it bruh. Your son is just enjoying the gifts. He lived with you too long to fall for the okey doke. Everything isn't always what it seems.

The Master (De)bater said...

The crazy part about the support hustle--and YES, it is a hustle--is that it turns out to be a cash cow for the state government and leaves little to the child's support. My parents avoided the government tangle for years, but a visit to the hospital screwed that up. I was a kid who needed medical attention; my mother was a woman with no medical insurance and barely an income. The hospital paperwork demanded every possible detail that could guarantee a payout...including my biological father's name. Less than three weeks later, he was heated about a court date and a mandatory payment, and my mother had to deal with the government yanking over half of the support payment for random fees. Support, eh? Yeah...we supported a thieving state government!

CapCity said...

Ced - ain'tcha HEARD? the gubment IZ de PEOPLE's ... POCKETS! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Tears in my eyes. My first husband missed out on so much joy - my girls are beautiful, successful, and wonderful women. I never spoke one word against him - sadly, they learned on their own.

Husband #2 is an excellent dad (horrible husband) and I'm proud of him.

Lance said...

well, paying child support is like buying a car you can't drive. it's pretty, fast and all that, but have no control of it and yo' ex gets to roll hard...wif another nigga driving, no doubt....

...meanwhile you pushin' pat & charlie (dem feets) on the sidewalk....dirt road, if your from

when me and my ex-wifey broke up in '95, compounded with a broken heart of the break-up and not seeing our daughter, then 4 years old, on an "in house" daily basis like the past (it's a big difference, y'all) try to do the right thing, pay what you can, especially if you don't have the money. but sisters, listen to other single parents in their flock and they've learned, thanks to bill clinton, fucka!...."whoever has the kid wins"...simple as that. what the gub'ment has done is taking "alimony" and "integrated" it into "child support"...that's why it's child support is high and you can't even lay tax claim to it. (the gub'ment sees CS payments as a "moral obligation", so you don't get shit, put a pat on the back, before they move that hand down your back with a greesy middle finger of KY!) you push out nearly $10k a year or more and no tax credit or deductions, meanwhile lil mama gets it all from tax credits or whatever, if she's smart enuff to do the research. the gub'ment sees the "absent" parent as a dead-beat whether you make monthly payments or not.

the only advice i can give to any brother or (sister, yeah there are a couple of y'all that gotta pay) is pay the money, keep your mouf shut about other forms of income you received, especially under the table and allow that to make up the difference you had lost in child support...but last but not least...don't take it out on your kid, just because the shit didn't work out between you and your wifey/shawty...if she's being a bitch about it, do everything you can to stay in contact with your child. for me, i never really had an issue of communication with my daughter. she's 17 years old now...we communicate on a near daily basis via emails, IM, text and phone. as long as you stay in their existence, they'll see for THEMSELVES that daddy loves them.

and that's worth all the child support payments and then some.

Shai said...

Lance, so what is a single mom to do if she needs help and the man refuses?

And what I don't like is how some men will leave their ex, meet another woman take on her family and dis his children from the ex. SMH. From experience that ish sucks. Just because I am holding it down does not mean the child does not need your input.

Anonymous said...

Good post.

I think it's messed up when the men raise the children and don't get a dime. You don't hear them crying out for money. Not to say that women cry for the money, but that's what we see in the media.

For some men, I don't blame them for not jumping to open their wallets when a woman comes knocking. Unless you know a 100% that the child is your, keep your money. I know first hand of a situation when a guy found out that the child wasn't his after 3 years. When the family was told, the mother's family didn't even want to pay for the DNA test to have the alleged father's name removed from the birth certificate.

Now if you know it's your child and you're not providing, shame on you.

Lance said...

@ shai: naw, you gotta do what'cha gotta do. it's a two-way street. if you know where he works or have that social security number. put your tax money (gub'ment) to work. contact the child support enforcement agency of your county and they'll do the rest. today's CS agencies are almost in a federal-type intrastate networking system. in other words, all the states are working together mainly via a SS#.

it just like any decision...
some will benefit, others will not.

but you have to "use" the system to get where you "need" to go.

Lance said...

@ jewells: the guy that got bamboozled probably fell in love too quick with the kid, workin' on that "they look like me" logic and so on.

fellas, if you KNOW you didn't go up in ol' gurl RAW, and later she is claiming she's pregnant? get that test and quit playing yourself. it's an ego-slapper for the both of you, but let your conscience rest in knowing the truth vs living a lie.

and if it yours and she's a bitch...head to the nearest pharmacy and check aisle four, that's where you're gonna find the

Shai said...

@Lance, I have never had to do that. I was asking because you seemed so upset about the guvment being involved.

Rich said...

See, I love brothers like Lance who come and hold down the spot and keep it real at the same time.

Don said...

Not all females have the childs' best of interest.

Its probably best I not reply. I have issues with mines.

Villager said...

I feel ya'. I pay child support now for three children. Fortunately, I have good relationships with the two mothers (one a former wife) and so I'm still involved in the celebratory aspects of their lives. In fact, I have shared custody for the two children here with me in Cincinnati.

The system is a mutha ... and it is best to simply stay as current as possible ... but, for sure stay consistent in making some payment each month ... even if not the full payment.

My first visit to your blog. I like the vibe...

peace, Villager

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