Bongiwe Nkomazana on Gender
The paternity of a child can be up for debate but it is undeniable that a child belongs to its mother. This fact shows through how some fathers from all over the world feel like it is okay to literally forget that they have fathered a child and ignore all fatherly responsibilities.
Have you ever watched the show “Utatako”, based on mostly adult children who go on a journey to find their biological fathers? It is painful to see how these children break down in tears or blow up in frustration because they have been denied the love of a father by either their mothers who were just reckless or men who straight up denied any involvement in their conception.
It is important for us adults to realise that our actions have significant effects on our children in the long run. Children are innocent but suffer in what is usually a power struggle between the parents. We will not disregard the many single fathers out there who do a remarkable job raising their kids but it is women that usually find themselves raising children alone for different reasons.
In scenarios where the fathers of their children have abandoned them, you find that women get so overwhelmed with having to provide for their children single-handedly and therefore find themselves having no choice but to legally remind their baby-daddies that they need to help out.
For the proud women, like myself, who would rather die than accept any sort of help from an irresponsible individual, deciding on whether to file for child support or not can be a daunting task.
Child maintenance also referred to as child support is usually money that the parent without the main day-to-day care of a child pays to the other parent to help provide for the child’s everyday living costs. This includes things like food, clothes and helping to provide a home and education for your child.
Do you realise how only the essentials are listed in the description? This means that it is actually your child’s right to receive that monetary support from their father because it will feed into their lifestyle. I feel like your child/children’s needs are the first and most important factor to consider when deciding whether or not you should file for child support.
As a mother, you know what your children’s medical requirements are right up to what they aspire to be and if you know for a fact that you cannot financially cover these things alone, letting your ego stand in between them and their needs is not being a good mother.
That money can go towards them getting into a better school, eating healthier and in some cases the money can just be enough for a pair of shoes and that is alright. We have perpetuated the wrong notion that single mothers need to suffer it out but I mean if there is a law that alleviates that suffering even just a little, why not relieve yourself of the suffering?
Some women are so kindhearted and so full of compassion that they will hold out on claiming for child support because their child’s father is not making enough money or has enough of other problems. I admire that trait of being considerate and understanding to even those that do not deserve it but my first instinct towards these compassionate women is to grab them and shout some sense into them.
Clearly this man does not care about your suffering that is why he is not helping to raise his little ones and if they made the decision to lay with you surely they should have been ready to deal with any other business that arose from there. Plus the child has needs regardless of whether the father was ready to be a father or not.
If this father that is trying to the best of his abilities and is communicating with you constantly especially via his actions that he is present for his children and even if the funds do not permit immediately, will work tirelessly to provide, then yes compassion and understanding are in order. The opposite deserves a legal awakening, period.
Another issue one should keep in mind when debating over filing for child support or not is the participation of the other parent in the child’s life.
Unfortunately as women, we many at time select the worst possible candidates to father our children, you know those individuals who will cuss their own mothers out?
When we realise the type of human being they are we then make the decision to leave them out of our children’s lives because of the questionable influence they could have on the kids. However, when you do decide to file for child support you should be ready to have this man practise his paternal rights because the process requires proving paternity (that this man that you are claiming money from is indeed the father of the children in subject). This means that he can be awarded visitation, shared custody and things like that, that go against your decision to have him stay at a distance.
Honestly, this decision is a lot and the advice you get from friends, family and columns like this may add on to the complications. At the end of the day only we know our individual situations. Some women have been blessed to co-parent with men who have the ability to step up to the plate and be a dad in all aspects of the word. In such situations these parents are able to sort out such issues amicably between themselves.
Other women are grossly unlucky and have found themselves between a rock and hard place and have no choice but to rope in the law in an attempt to get their children’s fathers to cooperate.
It is not ideal but filing for child support is often the last and only resort that will work. Lastly, do your research. Familiarise yourself with the country’s maintenance act and custody laws and what to expect in retaliation from the other parent. Above all, remember to keep your child’s needs as the first priority.