Child support is a big economic issue in the Black community. According to U.S. Child Support Statistics, out of “13.4 million custodial parents living in the United States, almost half of them have a child support agreement in place. Almost 90% of these arrangements are determined by the court, while a small percentage are never reported.” Child support has become a huge issue due to two major factors; the high rate of unwed black families and poverty in the black community.
Let’s be real about the complications within relationships. Differences in morals and values, rearing, maturity level, distrust, a plethora of temptation and outside opinions contribute to the reasons why black people do not marry. At the heart of these dilemmas is the question of self-love; without awareness of self and what we stand for, we are prone to make unwise decisions. When a child is born into an ambiguous situation, unresolved issues are bound to surface. Fathers may feel scared, skeptical, inexperienced, trapped or like they have bitten off more than they can chew. To avoid being placed on child support, the father may play the fence, giving false hope to avoid child support. A mother who has anticipations that the child’s father wants to be a family, is less prone to go to court. On the other hand, mothers may resent the father for deserting her and the child. Ideally, the neutral sentiment would be that if a man had a hand in creating a child, the least he could do is provide financial support – that would be fair. What is the lesson for us to learn so that history doesn’t repeat itself?
Aside from relational complications, there is a considerable number of black men who owe child support and just cannot pay it. Teenage fathers, especially, do not have the financial means to provide. According to a article on the Washington Post shows that “high unemployment and incarceration rates of black males age 20-34, further challenge a man’s ability to pay child support.” If a man is locked away for failure to pay child support, a further animosity exists within the co-parenting relationship. The man may feel that the mother of his child has had him arrested out of spite. It is important to note that sometimes the “state intentionally gets involved in the pursuit of child support. If state assistance or benefits are received, permission is not necessarily required from the mother to pursue child support. Moreover, judges or states base the rate of child support on what they feel the father can pay. Whatever the reason for non-payment, the father will be arrested.
Debt and incarceration rob black children of the presence of their biological father figure as well. The government has benefited from the dysfunction of black relationships and taken the time to create a system that both insinuates and perpetuates negative stereotypes. Black men who don’t or can’t pay child support are looked down upon as irresponsible failures. But who does child support benefit? Certainly not the child. A child would rather have a relationship with his or her parents than be regarded as a monthly bill. There is a tremendous benefit to the government when fathers can’t pay. Instead of going along with the ways and means of the destruction of the black family, why not educate ourselves on how to rebuild. By having access and visitation rights incorporated into child support agreements, job training, educational support and father-infant classes we can dismantle the system setup for black mean and black families to fail.
Then some families get along and want to make things work for the betterment of the child but stand confronted with opposition. Depending on what state you live in prohibit the father from living under the same roof as his child or the mother will be at risk of lousing their government assistance housing. In this example, it benefits a black mother to be single and on welfare than to live cohesively with the child’s father. A father is, at this point, forced to participate in his child’s life systematically. A system, however, that does not have the black family in mind should not be instructing blacks on how to take care of black children. While is it essential that both parents share equal responsibility for a life they created, mandating or coercing child support paralyzes the black family dynamic. We do not want to encourage callousness or irresponsibility of black fathers, but we are better off if we can find ways to hold each other accountable respectfully, and co-exist—not for financial means, but to become better as a whole.
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