If you’ve been following this series you’ve become familiar with the various frugal options non-custodial parents can employ in order to keep up with child support payments during financially rocky times.
In this final installment of the series I’d like to discuss an option that can, honestly, be a bit painful but is very effective.
In 2009, I started applying for jobs out-of-state partly because finding local employment yielded only temporary jobs & I needed something long-term. I applied for anything that was legal and paid American greenbacks.
The hardest part was leaving my son for an extended period of time. He was about ten years old when an employer from Idaho Falls, ID called and asked if I could be in their office within a week for an interview. I said yes because I was determined to take care of my son even if it meant being away from him for a while. Plus, I needed to set a good example.
I bought a bus ticket and called the employer to let them know the date of my arrival. My next step was talking to my son. I explained to him that I had a job offer, finally, but it was out of the state. I asked how he felt about me going out of town. He understood the reason, asked a few questions and we spent the rest of the day hanging out and enjoying each other’s company. I would be on a bus to Idaho within a week and intended to enjoy all seven days I had left to spend with this blessing of a child.
Fast forward three months later. I’d been promoted from call center phone agent to “Floor Mentor” which meant I had a team of phone agents under me, I helped train new agents, scheduled team meetings, and evaluated agent’s customer service phone calls.
Most importantly my child support payments were on time and consistent. From a financial standpoint it meant avoiding interest, and keeping a negative entry from my credit report. Reducing or illuminating fees when possible helps support financial goals. Interest fees resulting from non-payment of child support was a fee I’d rather avoid.
Staying In Touch
My employment and my promotion meant setting a good example for my son. Did I miss him? Absolutely! He visited, we talked on the phone and texted each other often. I hated the distance between us but I felt very accomplished that I was fulfilling my obligation and helping take care of my precious boy.
Working far away from family isn’t easy. It’s not an option I’d readily run to. However, the possible positive outcomes cannot be ignored. Just as investing, saving and preparing for retirement are frugal steps toward financial freedom, so is accepting a job out of town if that’s what will help your financial situation.
I Timothy 5: 1-8 is a great passage to read right now.
1 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Talk to younger men as you would to your own brothers.
2 Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.
3 Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her.
4 But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God.
5 Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help. 6 6 But the widow who lives only for pleasure is spiritually dead even while she lives.
7 Give these instructions to the church so that no one will be open to criticism.
8 But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
Verse eight is the one many Christians focus on in this passage. That’s understandable since that verse is so important. But looking at everything in context the message is clear: We have been charged with predetermied responsibilities to take care of our families. From the way we speak to each other to who takes care of grandmom when grand-dad goes to Heaven ahead of her. God has laid it out for us. Family members take care of each other first. If there’s no next-of-kin then the extended family- The Church, steps in.
I remember, painfully, sitting a counselor’s office and having him explain 1 Timothy 5: 8 to me. He explained that I wasn’t taking care of my child support and the Bible says I was worse than an infidel. This was hurtful for two reasons.
One, I knew I was working hard to take care of all responsibilities, including child support. I was waking up early, going to bed late, hurting, driving while exhausted, etc. Yet, despite knowing this I felt guilty for failing my son and my God. After all this was coming from my pastor, my spiritual leader.
Two, it didn’t seem this verse fit my situation. I thought to myself, “So I’m worse than an infidel even though I’m honestly trying? Surely not! God sees my efforts and knows my heart. I felt like this counselor, who I respect to this day, wasn’t listening, didn’t understand or didn’t care. Very painful.
It wasn’t until I was researching information for this blog that I saw an important detail- the word WON’T.
Read verse 8 again: But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.
Seems to me this verse is speaking directly of anyone who refuses to care for their family, it says nothing about those who are unfortunately unable or struggling. I make this personal note because I know there are many, many fathers and mothers out there in the same position. You feel horrible because you can’t provide in the way you’d like. You feel you’re missing the mark. You feel your child doesn’t respect you because you don’t produce the income of the Jones’. And to make matters worse you feel betrayed by those closest to you who just do not understand.
It is the strong opinion of this blogger that this verse describes those who turn away from or don’t even consider helping thier earthly family members, not those of us who are trying our best to do so. I pray this is an encouragement!
So is moving away from your offspring easy? Obvioudly not. I would not recommend it unless you have no other option. However it’s better than getting further behind on payments. Be brave enough to do what needs to be done, set that good example for your child(ren). They’ll love you for it eventually.
Lastly, I’d like you to remember that scrutiny from outsiders doesn’t automatically mean you’re guilty of beaing a deadbeat. Keep your mind on Christ, keep working hard, search for those odd jobs, donate plasma and even look for work out of town; whatever it takes, do it!
Stay strong and stay frugal!