Tales from a Blended Life, Part Three
Alrighty- I’m ready to tackle the final surefire rules to help our blended families survive WITHOUT the drama!
In case you missed the first two posts, I encourage you to go read them to better understand what “living a blended life” actually means, AND learn about the first two guidelines: 1) Wash your mouth out… and 2) Never, EVER, say half.
So… this guideline doesn’t have a catchy phrase for its title. I tried to come up with one, but the truth is, it doesn’t need to be catchy. It needs to be true. And so here it is….
3. Honor your responsibilities with a good attitude.
For this rule or guideline, I chose the word honor very carefully, instead of maybe the less formal “take care” of you responsibilities…. So let’s start with the definition of “honor”. It means to regard with high respect and fulfill an obligation.
I want that one little word to set the tone with this one, and Lordy, Lordy, I could probably write a book on this topic alone! I feel like I’ve said that about every topic, and it’s probably true, but for this one, let me give you an overall rundown of some major issues relating to parents’ responsibilities after divorce/separation. I will be focusing on financial obligations here, but I recognize there are many other ways parents need to honor their responsibilities!
Countless times…. (& I realize the word “countless” means “too many to count”, and therefore it is EXACTLY the word I want to use)… Countless times, I have witnessed either anger about paying child support to the mother or father, or the flat out, intentional act of NOT paying child support at all. I have also known people to countdown the days until their child(ren) turn eighteen. I have also witnessed instances where the ex who has been ordered to pay child support, ONLY pays that specific amount, and therefore tough luck to their kid if it’s spent on household bills, and they still need new tennis shoes. I have also heard exes say they can’t believe their former spouse needs the child support to survive month-to-month- Essentially saying what kind of adult can’t make ends meet without receiving this child support money? Shaming the ex who, usually desperately, really needs the money.
Now let me tell you a little about my situation growing up in a blended family, and brag on it a bit. My father had to pay child support to my mother. And let me say, this wasn’t just pennies to throw towards a couple bills each month. This was a significant amount of money. He also paid my sister’s and my medical/dental/orthodontics expenses, help with college tuition, etc.
And you know what else? You won’t believe this, but my dad paid child support through my college years. YES! You read that correctly! Through my college years! The day I married my husband and was about to finish school, the torch was passed to my hubby and me to provide for one another. I got married when I was two weeks shy of turning twenty-two years old, and that is when my dad stopped paying child support. Twenty-two years old…..
And I hear exes excited when the age of eighteen comes! Are you kidding me? You don’t stop being a parent when your child turns eighteen! If anything, read my story and say to yourself, it could be worse! Consider yourself LUCKY to only be obligated by court order to pay child support until your child turns eighteen. And maybe even consider the idea of continuing to pay it afterwards (maybe not directly to ex, but straight towards tuition or the child’s bills during school, etc.)….
Also, I say with total confidence, my dad NEVER missed a payment to my mom. NEVER. Period. And he didn’t complain about it either, and neither did my stepmom. In fact, I think she wrote out almost all of the checks! Now, my sweet husband didn’t have the same experience as me. His biological father who we do not see, still owes his mother thousands of back child support. Of course, she’ll never get it, and doesn’t expect to, but think about it… As a single mom, she worked full time and still she struggled month after month. Many times, they only survived because of her family helping to support her and the kids no matter what. My own mother who also worked full time, often lived month-to-month when we grew up, not able to get ahead. And I know the support went exactly to what it was supposed to- taking care of us. Sometimes that meant paying for new clothes or extra toys, but mostly it meant paying the house payment and electricity bill.
And I know what some of you are saying right now- But my ex doesn’t use the money the right way! It doesn’t go towards what it should! And I would say if you are in this position, then I am sorry. BUT there are good things that will come out of you staying faithful and honoring your responsibilities.
*Your children will KNOW you never failed them.
and let me get a little spiritual on you here….
*God knows. Say a prayer each time you write that check. Pray it goes towards keeping your child(ren) safe and loved. Then, you can release that money, knowing He knows you are being faithful and you, as well as your kids, will be taken care of. Though sometimes the solace you seek comes differently than you expect… I know a father who ended up paying child support to the ex, and yet he also ended up having the kids almost solely on his own. Yup, so even when he had the kids, he still paid his ex according to the court order.
Do not think for a minute He doesn’t see your sacrifice and commitment.
Now, in closing, I have to admit, I didn’t always understand how truly my dad (in this case) honored his responsibilities. My parents exchanging a check every other weekend when we were heading home from my dad’s house was just the way of life. I didn’t ponder on it much. That is, until I got older. By my college years, I was fully aware of how blessed I was to continue to receive support each month, getting me through college so easily. I began to notice then, how different my situation was from my friends who lived blended lives. And now as a parent and adult, I am fully aware of how my parents worked together to set me up for success.
Are you honoring your responsibilities with a good attitude, and therefore setting your kids on a path for success? Are you a step parent who is willing to lovingly write out that child support check? Are you releasing the money with a prayer, instead of holding it over your ex’s head? Are you counting the days until your child turns eighteen? Are you a friend who needs to stop bashing your friend’s ex, adding to the problem, and help that friend have a heart condition change?
My goal for everyone reading this is to decide to do better. Better is a step in the right decision. Take it from me- a blended life without the drama, is a life fulfilled and a life loved.
My Dad is not on social media, so I e-mail him all of my blog articles to read. He’s gonna be so embarrassed I bragged on him! But let’s show the love for those out there who honor their responsibilities with a good attitude! Do you have a GOOD experience to share? Comment below!