Child support is for my kids NOT their mom

October 27, 2022 at 11:40 am | 5 months ago

This one’s for my brother since he’d never write to an advice blog on his own, and he won’t discuss the matter with anyone who disagrees with him. He pays $900/month child support to his ex for their two kids, and maintains his agreement to have them two weekends a month and three weeks in the summer. He’s upset with their mother because she’s “always asking for more,” be it money for the kids’ extracurricular activities, clothing and supplies, help caring for them so she can vacation, or spending unscheduled time with them.

My brother told the kids that money he gives their mom is not for her to spend because it’s theirs, and he refuses to do anything beyond the original agreement. Most of the men in my family take his side and feel the women who disagree are biased. What’s your opinion on this matter?

Please direct your reply to my brother and I’ll be sure he gets it.

 

Dear My Brother,

You’re among a special group of men who invest time and money in the upbringing of their children. I commend you for handling the duties some fathers in your position avoid. The way parents show up in their children’s lives shapes the kind of adults they become.

It also sounds like your children’s mom struggles at times balancing the twenty-four hour responsibility of raising mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy kids amid life’s other demands. We’re all better parents (better humans) when we’re not overwhelmed. Are you open to providing a place of respite for your children when their mom is deeply stressed and carrying more than she can handle, even if it’s just for her to rest and recoup?

It seems the original caregiving agreement fit at the time. Now that the demands of child rearing has changed, it may be time to restructure the balance of responsibility. If her unexpected requests for more support strains your relationship or disrupts your budget and schedule, consider making adjustments to address the extra expenses that cause concern. For example you could build in time for personal vacations, and alternate who has the children after school, during birthdays, holidays, and back to school season. This would shift the cost and burden to the parent in charge, and should minimize mom’s need for additional financial support.

As the one who pays child support to your co-parent, it might feel like she has mismanaged the funds when she asks you to help pay for additional odds and ends. For perspective, divide the monthly allotment by thirty to see how many dollars a day you contribute to the children’s care. If roles were reversed, could you meet their daily needs and some of their wishes for that amount?

Entrusting one another with your most precious beings while living separate lives is daunting. So keep your eyes on the prize: raising healthy, balanced and happy kids with good values. If done well, they’ll do their part in the future when you need them to help care for you. It’s hard work. And worth the effort. I wish you all the best!

Truly,

Essence

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