I know that this article as well as this subject is going to touch the chord of so many people both positive and negative, both mothers and fathers. I recently posed a question to both men and women and to my astonishment; both favored and concurred with it. So, what is it? Child support! Did you know that child support is determined on the income of the noncustodial parent? Yes, I’m sure most of you know that. However, do most of you agree that child support laws are antiquated and biased and needs to be changed?If support payment is based on a noncustodial parent income, then what happens to the excess of the money that is received by the custodial parent once the child’s needs are taken care of? Most noncustodial parents want accountability for the payments received. I concur. During the divorce process, both parties are required to present a financial affidavit outlining all their expenses, assets and their income. Why then shouldn’t custodial parents outline the monthly expenses of the child or children and present that to establish support payment? If it takes only $500 for a child’s monthly expenses and the custodial parent receives $1200, then the remaining $700 is custodial support. Doesn’t seem fair does it? The question that was presented to both men and women was should custodial parents be accountable for the child support payment they receive?Child support laws have changed in many states to include the income of both parents, however, it needs to be changed nationwide for child support to be based on the expenses of each child. Most noncustodial parents would then stop evading child support and those that are reluctant to pay child support will pay child support because it will be based on the expenses and needs of the child. In order to make child support fair to both parents, this small change can be easily implemented when establishing the child support order.Christy is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend and she came to my office for advice on how to proceed with her relationship with the father of her child. She was initially quite angry and disappointed but elated that she was having a baby. She did not want the father involved with the unborn baby and wanted to do it all by herself. I thought how selfish, but I explained to her that her baby would benefit by having both parents involved in his/her life. In another session, we discuss how much child support she should receive. I asked her to write down all the expenses she would incur from having the baby as well as the budget monthly for caring for the baby. She brought the expenses during a follow-up session and I suggested that is the amount you ask for child support and present the father with the budget. When she came back, her relationship with the father had taken a positive turn. Christy informed me that he was relieved that she was fair and equitable in deciding on the financial responsibility of raising their child.However, the face of child support is changing. Statistic shows that 85% of custodial parents are mothers and 15% are fathers. The fasting growing segment/population of parents are fathers. More and more fathers are fighting for custody and in today’s changing world; more fathers are getting custody of their children.This is the perfect place to introduce Denise. Denise contacted me last year when her husband, of whom she was separated from, kept her two children when they visited him for the summer. She wanted to know her rights and the rights of her husband. What I told her shocked her. No parent actually has custody of their children unless it is outlined and determined in a divorce decree or in other documentation signed by both parents. I suggested to Denise that when the children come back for the Christmas holiday she could keep the children with her. However, I also suggested that she should have a candid conversation with her children to see where they prefer to live, with mommy or daddy.At Christmas her two children came to visit, however, Denise did not take my advice. The children went back after the holiday to their father. During her divorce hearing in the following spring, and when the issue of custody was presented, the judge asked, “if you wanted the children with you, why didn’t you keep them when they came to visit?” He continued to say, “if you didn’t think the father was doing a good job with the children, why did you allow them to stay with him for so long.” Denise called me after the hearing and informed me that the father was awarded custody and she should have listened to me.Denise is not the only mother I know that doesn’t have custody of their children and is the noncustodial parent. I have several mothers that I consult that are noncustodial parents. What happens when mothers are noncustodial parents? Do they have to pay the percentage outlined in child support laws? The answer is yes. What I’ve seen when mothers are noncustodial parents are fathers are more lenient to mothers paying child support and seldom demand that they pay the amount outlined in child support laws. This is the case for Denise. She only pays a small amount per month to the father for the care of her two children.After seeing a trend in the way fathers who are custodial parents allow the mothers who are noncustodial parents to pay a smaller amount from the norm, it got me to thinking, why are so many mothers, who are custodial parents demanding noncustodial parents to pay a percentage of their income when in most cases that amount greatly exceed the need of the child or children.I’m hoping that the laws will change in the future to allow custodial parents to outline the monthly expenses of their child or children when faced with child support. More noncustodial parents will stop evading paying child support and more will spend quality time with their children. Since 1975, over $100 billion is owed in unpaid child support. Of the amount owed, 70% of the noncustodial parents make less than $10,000 annually. The figure continues to grow because of the economy and the high number unemployment rate because of the amount of people being laid off. However, if both parents are working together for the same goals, and those goals are to love, provide, protect, be their physically, emotionally, and spiritually for our children, we are providing the best for our children.When noncustodial parents pay child support, they are more likely to be involved and spend quality time with their children. Statistic shows that when both mother and father are actively involved in their children’ lives, the children do better in school, more likely to go to college, less likely to be involved in drugs, less likely to get pregnant, and less likely to be involved in gangs and violence. It starts with noncustodial parents being treated fairly when it comes to child support. After all it is “child support” not “custodial parent” support. Let’s work together to change the laws as it pertains to the monthly amount noncustodial parents pay for child support. You can start by contacting and writing your Senator or State Representative asking them to change the laws and make child support based on the monthly financial needs and expenses of the child or children. We can make a difference and we can strengthen families.A child needs both parents involved in their life. When one parent abuses or misuses the other parent, a great amount of strain is placed on the relationship. The parent who is absent from the home, the noncustodial parent, will feel resentment and most likely stay away, even at the sacrifice of not seeing his/her child or children. I hear it time and time again from noncustodial parent and in most of my sessions with custodial parents; I communicate the frustrations and desires of noncustodial parents. Some times my message is positively received and other times the emotions of the custodial parents and noncustodial parents perpetuate a great division between both parents. I strongly believe that if most custodial parents appreciated and respected noncustodial parents many dilemmas between the two parents could be greatly avoided. Also, by no means am I taking away the responsibilities of noncustodial parents, what I see daily are the opportunities being taken away from noncustodial parents.When one parent is no longer living in the same household with the other parent and children, a child support battle ensues. It can be made easier with less emotion and with both parents satisfied with the process if the actual expenses of the child or children are taken into consideration. All noncustodial parents will know exactly where the money is being spent and that child support payments are being accounted for. Parenthood is an opportunity and responsibility. So many times one parent takes that away from the other parent. We as parents can make a difference in the lives of our children by providing the best for them. The best for them is both parents actively participating and involved in our children lives and both parents wanting and providing the best for our children. What a wonderful world this would be.Here are some suggestions to move more towards an amicable relationship with the other parent.o Decide that your child’s or children’ best interest is the most important aspect of the relationship with both parents.o Write a budget for each child. Make a list of all the expenses that is involved with the monthly care and needs of each child.o Start appreciating the other parent and realize that they make a world of difference in the lives of their children.o Get past the emotional upsets that caused the relationship to go awry. Parenting without the emotional upsets toward the other parent will open up a new relationship between both parents that will ultimately benefit your children.o Contact your child support office and let them know that the budgeted amount calculated in as mentioned above in the second point is what you want to receive monthly for child support.o Contact your Senator or State Representative and let them know that child support law need to be based on the expenses of each child and abolish the percentage of income of the noncustodial parent based laws.o Watch and see the noncustodial parent playing a more important and bigger role in their child’s or children’ lives.o Watch and see the difference in your child or children.o Better yet, watch and see how your life will ultimately change because of letting go of all the hurt, pain, anger, disappointment, frustrations and whatever other emotional baggage that festered inside of you. Your family will completely change for the better.I hope that these suggestions are received and are acted upon and that overnight your life, your children’ lives and the noncustodial life will change for the better. However, we are all human and it make take some longer than others. The most important aspect of change is wanting to change and wanting what’s best for not only ourselves, but for those we love. Start with one suggestion and keep adding each day, each week and whenever you’re able to move on.Take my advice because I have played the role of both custodial and noncustodial parent and I feel and have lived the experiences of both. Trust me, my advice will make a world of difference for your children.
Recently, a well-known, national, conservative, radio talk show host had a discussion about parenting coaches. (A parenting coach is a consultant who is hired to discuss and advise parents about how to deal with the many challenges that parents face as they guide their children through childhood.)Far from being supportive, this radio talk show host suggested that parents were resorting to using parenting coaches because they did not want to spend enough time with their children. She hypothesized that parents wanted a parenting shortcut so that their children could take a back seat to their careers. “Back in the day,” she stated, parents just raised their children and their children listened and developed into great people. It was clear from her disparaging comments and her insensitive insights that she is not a mother facing today’s challenges.This commentator, although not particularly sensitive to the feelings of parents, did make one interesting point. Parenting coaches and other supports are a new phenomenon that past generations of parents did not have as a resource.Why do parents today feel the need for outside assistance?In an informal survey completed by parents, mothers and fathers expressed great concern about making parenting mistakes.- “If I don’t parent correctly I will cause irreparable damage to my children.”- “If I make the wrong parenting decisions my child will end up on drugs.”- “If I lose my temper my child will never forget it, and hate me forever.”- “If I discipline too harshly I will damage my child psychologically.”Today, with the huge amount of information available to parents, even discussing pediatric health concerns before conception, parents feel an overwhelming responsibility that parents of yesteryear were not burdened with. With access to the internet parents are bombarded with data. From ADHD to potty training, parents are overly informed about all of the issues of parenting. Any small symptom that a child exhibits can be dissected and attributed to a terrible malady.The massive amount of information that parents take in, much of it contradictory, undermines parent confidence and causes them to second guess their decisions. Parents can feel an undo amount of stress and anxiety resulting from the vast amount of research they now do on parenting issues. Far from looking for shortcuts as the talk show host surmised, parents are hyper-vigilant about getting the parenting job done perfectly and raising happy and successful children. Every decision made is a crucial one that will have a lasting effect on their child.One mother wrote about how frightened she was for her unborn baby when the ultrasound showed a “low normal” reading of her amniotic fluid. Another mother-to-be was told that one of her baby’s kidneys was (although within normal range) slightly larger than the other. Both babies were born completely normal but their mothers started their parenting journeys “on-alert”. Before their babies were even born, these poor moms spent countless hours on the internet researching all of the potential problems that their babies could face.Parents choose to use parenting tools, parenting aids, parenting coaches, family counselors and parenting books because they feel enormously committed to and responsible for raising the next generation of adults and fearful that they could make a terrible mistake and hurt the precious life to whom they are responsible.With the advent of the informational-technology age, parents have been barraged with parenting content. Many well informed parents, parent self-consciously and without confidence, worried that any slip-up will do irrevocable damage to their kids. One mother in the survey, apologized repeatedly to her child after yelling at him to stop hitting the dog with a toy, she wrote that she was very worried that she had broken her son’s trust in her.Do parents have cause for alarm? If a kind and caring parent makes some parenting missteps will the child suffer irreparable harm?One father answers with insight, “As parents we have to have faith that our child rearing instincts are right on. Will we make parenting mistakes? Of course, but our children are resilient and will be fine.”Contrary to what the radio personality believes, it is not a bad thing for parents to use the resources that are available to them. From behavioral products and parenting aids, to parenting coaches and parenting websites, there are terrific resources available to support parents in their goal to raise great people.Parents should not let the large amounts of parenting information intimidate them. While some information can be helpful and empowering, too much information can be scary and can take the joy out of parenting.Resources like parenting coaches should be used as a support not a crutch that usurps their own ideas and parenting styles. Similarly parents should remember that these resources are aids and should not be used to replace time parenting. Parents should listen to their internal voice and be confident that the decisions that they make will most likely be good ones and that parenting with love and intellect will help them in their quest to raise kind and caring adults.