Father’s Day always spawns very interesting discussions. Unlike Mother’s Day, when people mostly praise and thank the women who birthed them, Father’s Day comes with a bit of controversy. There are discussions about the phrase “Baby Daddy,” folks ask if single mothers can be celebrated on that day since they serve as both mother and father to their children. And then there are those who don’t even acknowledge the day because of the wounds they’re still carrying from their absentee fathers.
This year, there was a discussion circulating the internet about absent fathers, child support and when a woman should go to the courts to request it.
Later, The Shade Room posted the same meme and asked their following what they thought of the idea.
As you can imagine, there were all types of opinions about the concept. Perhaps one one of the more widely read opinion came from Amanda Seales, who agreed, sharing this.
“FACTS. Stop bringing the govt in cuz you mad it didn’t work out. Stop using your children to further your petty agenda. Stop keeping fathers from their kids cuz they’re not interested in you. If he is physically and financially present to the best of his abilities get our your feelings, and get into co-parenting.”
She was subsequently accused of being a bird, a “Pick Me,” a woman who was sleeping with a man currently on child support. We don’t know all of that. But I do see the validity of her statement and also why people took issue with it.
Child support is not a form of punishment. It’s ensuring that the child’s needs are met. It’s about acting in the best interest of that child. Any other reason outside of that is vindictive and selfish. I had an uncle who had primary custody of his children and his ex-wife still took him to court trying to get child support. And because the assumption was that she was the mother and had the children, he had to appear in family court to sort it all out. As wild and unfair as that example is, it was also an anomaly.
More often than not, women take men to court because once the relationship ended, so did the financial support for their child.
There are unlimited scenarios that would describe why a woman (or man) would seek to put a former partner on child support. And more than a few of them have nothing to do with wanting that person in a romantic way. In fact, the meme assumes that the only reason a woman (for this example’s sake) would put a man on child support would be to get revenge or punish him in some way. It was problematic from the start. You can be a physically present and active father. But it still takes money–consistent money– to raise a child. And every man’s definition of “the best of my ability” is different. A man may feel like he’s doing his absolute best giving a $100 a month and seeing his child once a month or once a week. But in reality, it’s just not enough. If two people can’t agree on what is a man’s best ability, the court system helps regulate that and miraculously, the man adjusts. The sad thing is, the government can’t determine or enforce how much time a man spends with his child. He has to have a desire to do that on his own.
I think we can argue that more often than not the brunt of parenting responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the women. We can attribute it to maternal instinct but I would say society’s standards play an even larger role. Women are expected to the be caregivers while men are expected to be less involved when it comes to raising children. We see this with women who are raising children with a man in the home with them, so I can only imagine what happens when he’s not.
Someone offered a very thoughtful and real rebuttal to Seales argument about child support and parental involvement.
“Full time single mothers don’t get to opt out and tell their child no food today, I tried to the best of my ability. Full time single Moms don’t get to say sorry kid, no electricity, extracurricular activities, toilet paper, medicine, etc., I tried to the best of my ability to be present financially and physically. It’s not co-parenting when one parent isn’t putting in on their child’s life expenses. Sigh.”
And if that wasn’t clear enough for you, Supa Cent, who seems to have a very healthy coparenting relationship with her child’s father, shared this tidbit of what it means to be an active participant in your child’s life.
Too many men act like they’re babysitting instead of raising a child. If you fight to be equally involved, there would be far less reason for a woman to involve you in the court system.