A mother may wonder why the father of her child has to be dragged to court to fork out funds for his child’s upkeep. Should not his paternal feelings drive him to pay child support voluntarily?
A man may not always tell the mama of his baby the truth behind why he has been dodging his fatherly responsibilities. Listen to him when he’s feeling comfy among his mates and you are bound to know what is really on his mind.
As a man I have had the privilege of hearing informal groups of men discuss the issue. What follows is not a scientific study but some of the opinions of some of these men.
‘It’s not my baby’
I’ve heard some men give this excuse for not paying child support only to retract later, when the child is a teen or young adult. One man confessed that he had refused paternity of his child because he was scared of what his family would think.
When there is doubt, a paternity test is the best solution.
‘The Lord will take care of the baby’
The father who said those words was a repeat offender. To calm his guilty conscience he hid his head in the ground like an ostrich. I felt like saying to him. ‘The Lord gave you brains to take care of your kids. Moron.’
‘She splurges my child’s money on herself’
There is a belief among some fathers that some mothers abuse child maintenance funds by buying themselves the latest fashion or the latest hairstyles. As a result, some men may refuse to pay any increases in child support.
One solution is for the child’s mother to open a file where she keeps all the baby purchases so that if this line of defense is brought up she can quash it with her evidence.
‘She’s trying to fix me’
Some single dads feel that their babies’ mamas are out to get back at them for breaking up with them.
‘She’s sending our daughter to the most expensive school in town,’ complained one father, ‘yet never consulted me and now expects me to pay the fees. I’ll definitely not pay.’
Another father complained about incessant demands put on him even after paying the agreed child support.
One solution to this problem would be if the parties involved agree to a budget and communicating in advance about any major future costs such as school fees.
‘I have to pay to see my child’
‘If she thinks that she can take care of the child alone, I will let her,’ said one father who had been given an ultimatum of paying or not seeing the child. When this game is played on them some men feel like they’ve won when they don’t pay.
The longer some men are kept from seeing their offspring they feel that they are actually a father with an obligation to meet.
In my opinion, there is no excuse for any parent not to pay child support. If a father doubts that his child is his then he should request a paternity test. For the sake of the child, communication should be civil and the child should be accessible to both parents.
I say a child needs both parents and is not a bargaining tool because the tool could easily be damaged in the process.
What should be done to enable children whose parents have split to receive their due in both support and contact?
Read more by Sipho Yanano
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.