Raising kids takes a tremendous amount of focus, dedication, consistency, and constant learning. While every parent is different, each one guiding their children according to their own parenting style, upbringing, personal experiences, and goals, there are still many things that every parent should know. One of the most important is understanding that you’re never going to be perfect. And imperfection, my friends, is normal.
As a single parent, especially one still reeling from a recent divorce or separation, we can feel a lot of different emotions or field a great many opinions from others about how we’re doing as a mother or father. Our ideal of the perfect parent can get us in trouble, causing us to constantly second guess ourselves. It can even affect our family’s financial health and emotional well-being.
Some mothers and fathers, believing they aren’t a good example of an ideal parent, perhaps even based on past mistakes they’ve made, feel they don’t deserve or shouldn’t seek child support because of these perceptions. It’s important to understand first off that while each of us is responsible for the choices we make and the way we guide our children, none of us is flawless. And foregoing our right and responsibility to receive child support to cover child care expenses can result in significant consequences for our kids.
It leaves many doors to opportunities and resources closed, increases stress and worry about provision and stability, and leaves the family vulnerable to the ravages of unforeseen emergencies.
We care about your family and want you and your children to live the very best life you can. With that in mind, let’s look today at a few reasons why you should fight for child support, even if you’re not the ideal parent.
One of the main reasons to fight for child support is to make sure your child’s basic needs are always met. From food and clothing to housing and utilities, your child needs certain things to live a safe, healthy, productive, and satisfying life.
Prolonged seasons of scarcity can add significant stress to your child. They may spend too much time worrying about having enough new clothes for school and what their friends will think of them instead of focusing on school and family life. If they don’t have enough healthy food, they may struggle with energy and focus, which affects many areas of life.
If we struggle to maintain rent or mortgage payments, this adds a whole other level of worry, both for us and our children. Having to move can disrupt everything in our children’s lives.
When we give our kids the basics, we create a foundation to build from. They have what they need to survive and remain strong and engaged, so they can spend their efforts on learning, growing, connecting and finding joy and purpose.
This is an important one, and one that often gets overlooked. It’s easy to simply think, “We’ll worry about that stuff when it arises.” Unfortunately, we need medical insurance and savings in place before we’re sick or injured, not after. The last thing any of us wants is to be denied imperative medical procedures or not receive the highest quality care because of less than stellar health insurance or lapsed coverage.
Also, there are usually overages, remaining balances even after insurance kicks in. Without the added foundation of child support in place, these bills can pile up, leaving us vulnerable to mounting debt, collections, and credit damage.
Fighting for child support can help ensure you always have a plan in place for all your medical needs. With enough money coming in each month, you can have the right insurance in place and put funds aside in a medical savings plan or regular savings account to cover any additional balances or uncovered procedures and care.
We all want our kids to have access to a quality education. Depending on overall income, local access to a variety of schools, and our family’s goals, this will look different for each of us.
Making sure you keep child support coming in gives you a greater range of options for your child’s education. You may decide you’d like them to attend a private school with higher standards but a sizable cost. You may want to get them a tutor or private teacher at some point and need funds to make this happen. You may simply want them to attend a better public school in a different district and need money to take care of the cost of increased transportation, before and after school care, and additional expenditures incurred by the added time and distance.
Let’s not forget about college. University education has risen consistently over the past several years. Even with scholarships, the cost of tuition, housing, and supplies can be significant, straining the wallets and sanity of many parents. Using some of your support money to start a college funding plan from an early age can ensure they get a quality higher education, which will help them gain a leg up in their career and goals.
Quality Family Time
We’ll begin this one by stating confidently that you can have some of the most satisfying experiences together as a family without spending a dime. In fact, some of our greatest memories are simple times of laughter, play, conversation, or shared experiences that don’t require any spending. Yet, there are other experiences in life that we want for our kids that require capital.
Most of us would like to take our children on some great adventures, vacations away from home that require air travel, long road trips, lodging, and fun activities while we’re there that all demand a certain amount of money.
We also want to have the freedom to enjoy the smaller things that bring a bit of joy and connection each week, like eating out, bowling, movies, swimming, concerts, and other activities that offer us new ways to enjoy one another and connect meaningfully. Child support can make sure we have enough in reserve to do these things with our children.
It’s Important They Know You Care
What do we mean by this? Well, our children notice a lot more than we think they do. Even if they aren’t talking about it; and face it, they’re probably not talking about it. They watch what we do and form their understanding of us as parents and of their own worth based a great deal on our choices and behavior.
Doing what you can to make sure they’re cared for in every way possible gives them a great deal of assurance. Knowing you fight for them allows them to see and feel, tangibly, the ways in which you protect them. It shows them that they are deeply loved and highly valued, something that affects everything in their world and goes a long way in shaping their self-confidence and worldview.
Of course, when we talk about fighting for them, we aren’t talking about petty arguments with your ex, shouting matches, selfish and unjustified money-grabbing, or speaking badly about your ex with your kids. This is adolescent, incredibly damaging, dangerous, and models terrible behavioral habits to your kids.
Instead, pursue mature, adult conversations, consistent communication patterns, shared responsibilities, openness and transparency, mutual respect, and speaking well of each other in your child’s presence. Fighting for your kids means respecting yourself and your family, not giving into manipulation or coercion if it does arise, going the distance to protect them from harm, unfair treatment or neglect, and working hard to give them a wonderful and meaningful life.
Pursuing a fair monthly child support is another way for them to see that you have their best interests in mind, that you won’t give into undue pressure, and that you want the very best for them.
For Your Own Well-being
Having enough money each month to ensure your family is always taken care of helps you breathe easier. Financial struggles and constant worries about not having enough to provide your children with the resources and opportunities they need, adds tremendous stress to your life. It affects your work, your relationship with your kids and your significant other, cuts into sleep and rest, and increases your vulnerability to illness.
As the custodial parent, making sure you get a fair and consistent child support amount each month will help you avoid the added strain, worry, and struggle that comes with this kind of stress. No matter what, always reach out to those you love for support and encouragement in both good times and bad and work with your lawyer to stay current on child support guidelines and ensure you have all the financial support you need for your family’s future.
We all make mistakes. None of us does it perfectly all the time. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the resources you need to make sure your kids have the access they need for a good life.
Mother or father, it matters either way. Do your best to work with your attorney and fight for child support so you can create a life for your family where everyone is empowered, encouraged, enabled, and free to grow without the restrictions of unfortunate and unnecessary scarcity.
Torrone Law helps individuals and families find resolution and wholeness with caring, professional legal counsel and sound advice. Connect with us today to learn more about partnering with us through divorce, custody, or adoption.
To learn more about the importance of child support, see our frequently asked questions below.
I don’t feel that I’m always the ideal parent. Should I still pursue child support?
The answer is definitely yes. We all make mistakes and wish we could do certain things over. Perfection doesn’t exist. What your kids need most is you, and the ongoing support and guidance you provide.
Making sure you receive a fair monthly child support payment goes a long way toward helping you establish the foundation your family needs to thrive.
How do I make sure I’m doing my best to get the financial support I need?
The most important thing is to partner with an experienced lawyer who will fight on your behalf to secure a fair child support payment. Also, make sure you keep your records and bills organized. This will help you and your attorney access information right when it’s needed.
Should I fight with my ex over child support and other issues?
Disagreements are going to happen sometimes. They are a natural part of life. But for the sake of the kids, do your best to show respect toward one another. Don’t gossip or bad-mouth your ex in front of your children. Work with each other, both in everyday matters and in major decisions, to provide your children with the counsel, love, and encouragement they need.
Avoid shouting matches and petty arguments, especially in front of the children. Get a good counselor for yourself and your family to help each of you work through the pain of divorce and the process of a new parenting plan. And work with your lawyer or mediator to resolve conflicts that would otherwise escalate or go unresolved.