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.
SUPPORT THE CHILD
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 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