DEAR SUSAN: I've been reading a lot of letters in your column about child support. How about a kid's perspective? My dad never sees me. Why should I want to see him? He owes my siblings and me thousands of dollars' worth of food, clothing, medical treatment, etc. I'm not complaining about apartments that don't have carpet or having to watch black-and-white TV. I'm angry about the two outfits I had to wear to school for two years. (Today I can make a blouse last for 10 years.) I'm angry because every time Dad got angry with my mom, he stopped paying. Whom did he think he was hurting?! Thing is, my dad paid no alimony, only child support. He paid less for his three children than other men were required to pay for one. Mom worked hard and never said a bad word about him. She didn't have to. She knew that eventually, we would make up our own minds about him. Well, we made up our own minds, all of us.
Goodbye, Dad. You didn't give a damn about us when we were hungry. We don't give a damn about you now that you're lonely. Dads should consider the true cost of not paying child support. They might have their feelings hurt to hear their own children say they hate them. But then, what do they expect? "I love you" is just a phrase; it doesn't put food on the table. Real love is evident by the commitment and sacrifice a parent makes for the child.
I love my mom. She loves me, too.
DEAR READERS: Love is active, caring in motion. To live through one-sided parenting is a cruel but lasting lesson. To live through such deprivation so young is never forgotten and will shape the rest of these three young lives. They felt not only material deprivation on a daily basis but also the lack of caring. The emotional distance from their father is irreparable.
The letter writer is wise beyond her years, pushed through an unhappy childhood by steady mementos of her parents' discord. The father used his child support money to punish the mother of his children, but those small minds were the ones suffering the most. To live through such a deep rejection leaves scars that will never heal. But they can be turned into lessons for their own children and can make them devoted parents. My hope is that they will make the lessons learned in their early years the basis for steady, mature, loving parenthood.
This letter should be read in every custody courtroom to the parents in custody cases.
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