'Money should not be a commodity for visits with your children': A stepmom shares the other side of the maintenance story

"The primary caregiver feels entitled to the money, misappropriates the money..."
"The primary caregiver feels entitled to the money, misappropriates the money..."

In response to the recently published Maintenance money: to some, more divisive than divorce, one Parent24 reader wrote in to share what it's like being on the other end of the maintenance debate. Her heartbreaking letter laying bare all the reasons why fathers and stepmoms aren't always the villains they are made out to be. 

I have been married to my husband for just over ten years. We have been together for just over 14 years and are extremely happy. I married a divorcee with 2 children from his previous marriage, and together we have kids too. 

I often read about divorce stories where the dad is the bad one, doesn't pay maintenance, doesn't care about the kid and simply moves on with their lives. I seldom hear the version where the man duly tries to do right by his children, by loyally paying every month but has no access to his children. The one where the man has every intention to spend the allocated holidays, Father's Days and birthdays but is void of seeing his children for months on end. 

I rarely hear about the story of how the stepmother continues to assist in maintaining them without question and without bitterness or anger. I rarely hear about the stepmom who has bailed out the primary caregiver on a number of occasions to ensure that her stepchildren have food on their table and clothes on their back. 

Also see: Local dad shares what it's like being denied access to his daughter

Has your version of the maintenance story been told? Share it with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

I guess I am writing in response to being on the other side where the primary caregiver feels entitled to the money, misappropriates the money and we are silenced by the fact that the psychological damage and indoctrination that those children have already been exposed to is bad enough without us having to take any legal recourse.

We forget that those children are constantly conflicted and that money, as important as it is in raising children, should not be a commodity in which you exchange visits with your children. It should certainly not affect the frequency by which you are allowed to have access to the children and finally should not be the sole purpose for keeping the custody of the children. 

What saddens me more is that whilst this primary caregiver continues to utilize the money for their own personal benefit, simple things such as character building, resilience, commitment and dedication is a non-existent force in those children's lives. Their education is not prioritised and they are often left to navigate life by themselves. 

My heart breaks for these children who now are forced to face the future without the guidance of a father who so desperately wants to be part of their lives. Perhaps one day they will see we tried, and maybe one day a relationship will be built but I am afraid that relationship will be built with preconceived ideas and most definitely with subconscious trauma that cannot be undone. 

Chat back:

Has your version of the maintenance story been told? Share it with us, and we could publish your mail. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
12% - 874 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
43% - 3191 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
41% - 3031 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 291 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.