Baby Mamma Drama?
December 15, 2012 9:53 AM Subscribe
I'm going to have a discussion about what my son's father thinks is excessive child support in a few hours. Please help me frame what I want to say in a non-argumentative, non-condescending, non-bitchy way?
posted by youandiandaflame to human relations (56 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
So, here's the short of it. Our son was born 8 years ago. At that time I asked for $300 child support monthly, without a court order. After two months of receiving nothing, I went ahead and secured a lawyer, a paternity test, and a court order for child support. My son's father was barely present throughout the decision making with the court. He was ordered to pay $797 dollars a month. At the time he had an income of around $60,000 a year. I settled for $718 a month. My son's father did not meet our son until he was 3 1/2, after a particularly scary medical emergency, but has since been a pretty great dad. Our son has no issues with him whatsoever and generally, we parent wonderfully together.
Lately, because I think he's comfortable with me more than he's ever been, he's been making comments about how excessive his child support payment is. About how his doctor friend pays less in CS than he does. About how he's utterly broke and has nothing to show for his 70 hour weeks at work. At one point he asked me to acknowledge that the amount was excessive, which I disagreed with and did not do. We have not discussed this at length though obviously, he's angry about it.
His income has not changed (if anything, I suspect he makes more now through unreported bonuses) and he just recently bought a new truck and he lives in a very nice apartment in a nice city about an hour from us.
I suspect that he's depressed lately -- he's clearly not happy with his life and he's become short with me, though I will admit that I've not seen this happen with our son. This morning he stated that he was too broke to buy Christmas yet and at that point, I called him and asked him to give me a ring later so we could discuss this. He agreed and I expect him to call in a few hours.
Here's the thing: I am harboring some resentment towards him about these comments he's made and how he obviously feels. I make $13000 a year at a job I only stay at because it enables me to pick or son up from school nearly every day, take time off when I can to attend field trips, and generally be a mother that's lovingly present in his life. I drive a shitty car that I cannot leave town with. I feel like he thinks he's making this huge sacrifice while not at all acknowledging that I too get being broke as ALL my income goes to support our son, not just the percentage the state makes him pay.
But. My attitude and my feelings about this, should I bring that up, I don't think will lead to a productive discussion between us and that is truly want I want. I have told him repeatedly that there is room for discussion here. He basically says he hates his job at this point but only keeps it because he's got to keep up these "outrageous" payments toward CS. I have told him repeatedly that our son deserves a present, happy father and that he deserves a job he loves and that fulfills him. To that end, if he wants to quit and search for something he'd rather do, I'm behind him 100% and if he should take a pay cut, I'm happy to go back to the courts and ask them to reassess what he owes. He says he's looking for a new job and has been for a long time but just hasn't found anything. At the same time he admits that he is an accomplishment junkie and loves his job because he's good at it and is told so often so I'm not really sure where he stands.
So, how do I parse this with him so that he doesn't feel like I don't get it? I don't want to bring up that I've been too poor for three years to buy myself a winter coat because I'm not looking for his pity but frankly, this is part of the reality of raising a child for some people and I'm one of those people. I go without, even with that CS, so our son can have. I want to make him aware of that without damaging his fragile ego (and he does have a fragile ego) but is that a good idea, to turn this into a conversation of "Well, I don't have shit either, you know"?
I'm just not sure how to have this conversation like an adult that isn't harboring a little resentment, I guess. And I want to be a grown up about this because that's obviously in our son's best interest. The outcome I'd like to see is that he no longer feels alone in "not having shit to show for all his hard work" (which I think he's attributing to having to pay this amount of CS) and that we can get to a place where he feels like what he pays is what the state has says is fair because it IS fair.
Is that even possible? Does anyone have any ideas about how I should frame what I want to say? Or is it best for me to stop trying to mother him out of this issue he's having and just bow out and let him stew because, shit, I didn't set the damn number?