July 24, 2019
By Rachel O. S. Edmund.
There is an existing narrative that is quite difficult for me to understand and it is one that I absolutely abhor! It is the notion that single mothers only seek out the fathers of their children for one reason only and that is to procure money for her to live a lifestyle she could not otherwise afford rather than to seek the welfare of her offspring. There are quite a few reasons why this notion is completely abhorrent to me but I will delve into those reasons a bit later. First I would like for you to ponder upon some of my thoughts on single motherhood.
Parenting on the whole is a difficult and never ending process. We learn and grow as we go. Single parenthood I would say is by far one of the most difficult things a woman (or man) can undertake. It challenges one’s very sanity whilst offering little to no benefit (if even there were some sort of benefit to be gained from being a parent) except that of the pride one feels seeing little humans who were solely dependent on the parents grow into young independent productive adults.
For those who had enough foresight to choose the very day and time they would allow themselves to become parents there were many factors that were considered before entering into the parenting realm. Factors which included whether or not the individual was in a financially stable enough position to bear the weight of children and all the responsibilities that come with parenthood. This awareness would have led to conscious delays in the event that the prognosis of the financial position was unfavourable.
Others like myself were not as wise as poor planning and bad advice coupled with societal norms and religious beliefs/expectations led to emotionally unsound decisions about parenthood. As such the children that were born were somewhat at a disadvantage from conception. What is absolutely amazing to me is that many men believe that it is not their responsibility to financially care for their children not to mention be emotionally responsible toward them. Of course financial responsibility is not the only responsibility of a father but it is a major one.
The fact of the matter is that many men believe that if they have ended the relationship with the mother the relationship (especially the financial relationship) with the child ends for some reason. Many believe that the financial responsibility is severed and does not provide same for the children he once cared for. I fail to see the logic in such thinking but I digress. The relationship between parent and child ends upon death of one or the other not at the termination of a relationship with the mother or father, therefore the financial and other obligations do not cease at that point.
I wonder sometimes how men feel about their emotional, spiritual, physical and financial absence or detachment from their children’s lives. It seems to me a preposterous notion that he would conclude that it was cool to be front and center basking in their children’s accomplishments (toward which they made no substantial contribution). They ensure that they are there for moments which can be captured on film or phones so that they can be quickly uploaded to social media for congratulatory messages from their peers as though they were some sort of model parent yet they don’t employ the same energy to ensure that their children are fed or clothed properly!
I remember when I met my father he took me through the village where he lived to parade me in front of his friends, all of whom I’d never met before that day. He kept saying “this is meh daughter. She have eight CXC passes!” I asked myself what right did he have to share that information and what right did he have to revel in it as he never ensured that hand-me-downs weren’t all that I wore or that I could go play the steelpan or guitar as an extracurricular activity. How could he think in his mind that he had anything to do with what I had accomplished solely through the sacrifices of my mother and myself?
I ask myself today the same questions as it relates to my own children because money was not the only way a contribution could have been made to their lives however it would have been a contribution that would have made it easier for them. That contribution could have afforded them so much more and they could have experienced so much more in their lives. Of course the emotional contribution would have also benefitted them tremendously as I have never attempted to disrupt the relationship between children and father. I believe that attempting to do such is frivolous and counterproductive on any level.
When it comes to seeking the interest of children of a union it is only logical to conclude that a single mother will seek financial support because caring for children is basically synonymous with financial responsibility which is why the existing narrative is absolutely abhorrent to me. No one should have to dictate to an individual what their responsibilities are when it comes to their offspring. It should be something that is understood because every child has needs, not to mention rights!
The sacrifices that are made to ensure that children have what they need is the major reason for my disdain for persons who articulate the tripe that they do when saying things like “child support should be for the children and not for hair and nails!” It is as if we become less than human because we sought the assistance of the court for a deadbeat! Of course the payments should go to the children! YES 100%!! However, many times the payment is late and the money used to pay the children’s bills comes out of the mother’s coffers (which she may have had to do her hair or whatever). So when she finally gets the allocation should she not be allowed to do what she intended to do with the money? Or should she have left those bills unpaid until the child support money came?
She may have had some unforeseen expense like a dental visit due to her not keeping her appointment because little Johnny was ill and his dad refused to send money to cover the medical expense of his illness hence she used her “dentist money”. She still has that broken infected tooth to fix. Should she wait until her next salary or should she be allowed to use the support money? Little Johnny one day was as mischievous as could be and clogged the toilet, now she needs a plumber to fix the clog because she can’t do it herself so she uses money that was allocated for a week of groceries to repair the clog.
What I hear most times when men don’t want to pay support or be there for their children emotionally is that they’ve lost control of the mother and so attempt to do so by dictating what she spends the money on (in some cases continuing to perpetual abuse in another form). I believe in accountability but I also believe that most single mothers are looking after the best interest of their children and should not be bullied by their exes or the court to say what she spends the money on because at the end of the day the bills relative to the children do get paid!
I consider what it would take for men to finally stop running away from their responsibilities as men and I am not sure what it would take really! Taking the law into one’s own hands is illogical and meaningless. Law enforcement and or reformation of archaic law seems to be the only prudent thing a single mother can use to advocate for change or hope for in this dispensation.
Men say they love their children but do they really when they continue to leave their children undone? Do they truly love their children when they accept no financial responsibility for them? Do they love these children that they helped to create when they spite the mother and claim parental alienation? I am inclined to believe that they simply do not!
I ask myself what it would really take for men to truly love their children unconditionally. Sometimes I feel that it is simply wishful thinking on the part of a single mother who longs for the day that her ex would finally step up as a man.
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