DSS's chilling comment re child support news story - Mothering Forums

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Old 01-22-2014, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Things are going swimmingly with my DSS.  He's through his first semester of high school.  His out-of-state mom appears to have given up trying to regain custody.  He's happy with that...and it shows, in the cessation of his hostile, passive-aggressive, risk-taking behaviors, which were driving us crazy a year ago, when DSS feared he was on the cusp of being forced to go to court and officially pick one parent over the other.  He recently spent his first Christmas Day in 6 years with his Jewish mom, who's been fighting hard to have him each Christmas.  He came home glad to have seen her, but firmly resolute that:

 

#1- He will not spend another Christmas Day with her, as she herself (not DH and me) made it clear that her chief interest in having him that day was to ensure he didn't spend it with us; not because Christmas seems important to her or her family, as she has so strenuously insisted the last many years.

 

#2- Her lifestyle is not how he wants to spend his high school years.  He wants to live here.  He still cares that this breaks her heart.  But he's starting to grasp (on his own, not through indoctrination by DH and me) that when he was little and had NO choices, she did - and her string of decisions created her circumstances.  Over the years - to my great fear - his mom excitedly promoted this "magic age" of 14, when he'd finally have the legal voice to help her beat his dad in court.  Now that he IS 14, he seems to see this as HIS time to go after what HE wants, and to finally quit adjusting his life, feelings, opinions, even his name, to accommodate the parent he's with, or the one who seems most needy.  Why should he have to give up his school, friends, sports, brothers, etc., to erase for his mom the consequences of her own choices?  If having him live with her matters so much, she could have built a life for herself that didn't demand so many sacrifices from him.  She could have not done whatever made her lose custody. 

 

In short, the last several months I haven't been accustomed to feeling shell-shocked by something DSS says.

 

This morning, over breakfast, I expressed outrage about this case: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/21/child-support-error_n_4637465.html?1390319219&ncid=webmail1 

- A TX non-custodial father was signed up for automatic bank account withdrawals, to pay his child support.  Here, C/S collection services are mandatory (if you divorce through the courts) and NCPs must pay a fee.  

- The service repeatedly withdrew too little - through a clerical error, not any fault of his.  

- Evidently, the mother did not realize this (or didn't complain), but the service issued him an automatic bill, only after he was $3,000 in arrears - an amount many parents wouldn't be capable of correcting, all at once. 

- He DID correct it, AND paid a $1,000 fine, to stay out of trouble.  Evidently, there was no consequence for the C/S collection service's incompetence.

- Nevertheless, the prosecutor threw the book at him.  He didn't have the good sense (or good representation) to request a jury trial.  The judge gave him the maximum sentence:  6 months in jail.

- So now this father - who WANTS to be involved and who's CURRENT on his child support - missed Christmas with his kid; won't see him for half a year; can't work (or pay support) for half a year; and will get out of jail with no job and a conviction that will make it all the harder for him to get a new one.

 

Cases like that infuriate me.  I was shocked when DSS's response was to narrow his eyes and - equally furiously - demand to know how I could defend that guy?  How did I know he didn't DESERVE to be in jail?  Maybe he was a real jerk, when he was married to the mom!

 

It was hard, at first, to focus on what he said, without likening it to his own parents.  His mom thought his dad was a jerk during their marriage (or, at least, for breaking up with her) and thought he deserved to be punished for upsetting her, by getting thrown in jail and never seeing their child.  It didn't matter that the ways he actually upset her weren't criminal; or that to have any hope of getting him jailed or revoking his parental rights, she had to lie, distort things and manufacture false evidence.  Who cared if it took a miscarriage of justice, to get him in jail?  That's where she felt he deserved to be, regardless of any facts.

 

I explained to DSS that maybe this dad *was* a jerk to the mom.  But if so, whatever he did wasn't bad enough for that to land him in jail.  He didn't deserve to go to jail for something else, that he didn't do (i.e., refusing to pay C/S), regardless who hated him, in his personal life.

 

DSS didn't say a word and appears to still be grievously offended by my opinion.  I'd love to know what's in his head!  shrug.gif 


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Old 01-22-2014, 10:02 AM
 
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DSS is also the shortening of "Department of Social Services", I thought that this was something about that at first! IT sounds like things are going well- but I agree about wondering what's going on in his head. Is he upset enough with his mother to think she deserves to go to jail? Does he still have lingering resentment towards his dad because of what his mother tried to argue? It sounds like this case certainly pushed a big button for your son, I'm sure he has a lot of strong, possibly conflicting emotions about divorced parents and their responsibilities to their children after what he's faced in his life.


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Old 01-22-2014, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DSS is also the shortening of "Department of Social Services"...

 

Whoops!  No.  Thank goodness.  When I first discovered MDC, everyone used obvious abbreviations like H for husband and SS for step-son, but always with D at the start.  I finally asked what the D meant?  Dear.  Since that was the convention, I used it (although I did have a chuckle when I saw people use abbreviations like DX).  Is the D less common, now?

 

...Is he upset enough with his mother to think she deserves to go to jail?

 

I can't imagine for a second that he is - at least, not consciously.  (Now, the world would not make sense to me, unless some part of his subconscious wants to strangle her.)  Only in the last couple years has he gotten comfortable expressing a bit of perfectly rational anger about her (though not TO her, I assume); but he's still very conflicted about it.  In the rare cases that DH and/or I have validated his own criticism of (or frustration with) his mother...or when he demanded one or both of us answer a question that was unflattering to her...he has come back much later, really pissed off:  "I don't let ANYone bad-mouth my mom!"  When I can detach myself a little, it's really kind of fascinating, since we're all aware that either he criticized her, or he insisted we explain something to him that he knew we had hesitated discussing, to keep from criticizing her!  He still needs to deflect ownership of any negative thoughts about her.

 

Does he still have lingering resentment towards his dad because of what his mother tried to argue?

 

That's what it sounded like, and it surprised me.  I really think he spent his childhood enmeshed in the craziest moral relativism - believing his mom's stories, when he was with her (that his dad was an abusive, neglectful, kidnapping criminal neither of them should want to be around); then shifting over to loving his dad, thinking he was a great guy and wanting to be like him, when he got some time with him.  I can only speculate what mental hijinks a child employs, to spend summers - much less LIVE - with a man his mother said kidnapped him multiple times, beat her and tried to kill her...and to love and trust that man, without letting himself consider that his mom might be a liar; or demanding some reconcilable story, next time he sees her.

 

This mentality - that the truth is all relative - seemed to cause problems in many parts of DSS's life.  Why did it matter if he lied to us, or his teachers, or his friends, or if he stole things, cheated, broke rules, or blew off his responsibilities?  That didn't make him a bad person.  Wasn't everyone just doing what they wanted for themselves all the time, then trying to figure out which story it was best to tell which person, when they got caught?  And, even as a grade-schooler, he took care to do a good job of that!  

 

It seems to me he has finally begun to come out of that and realize if something isn't TRUE, it's FALSE, not simply "a more workable story".  It's not just his mom's opinion that his dad kidnapped him; and his dad's equally valid opinion that he didn't.  It either happened, or it didn't.  And honestly, if it happened, who would have ever given his dad custody?  So, if it DIDN'T happen, then his mom knowingly and maliciously LIED about it, to damage his relationship with his dad.  And that's rather unavoidably bad and wrong.

 

So, it bothers me to think he still imagines that if a husband really upset his ex-wife, he might deserve to get punished by going to jail - for any frivolous or even fictitious thing someone can come up with, to get him behind bars...just as his mother used to think, about his father.  But it sure doesn't appear that he wants to discuss it any further!

 

It sounds like this case certainly pushed a big button for your son, I'm sure he has a lot of strong, possibly conflicting emotions about divorced parents and their responsibilities to their children after what he's faced in his life.


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Old 01-22-2014, 03:50 PM
 
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Does your step son know that his mom was excused from paying child support for many years and that your husband now recieves it from her? If she has vented to her son about the cost, it might be back-firing on her. Maybe your son feels that his mom owes more than what she's giving, either in money or time, and saw the father in the news story as at-fault because, seriously, he didn't notice the error? If pretty much all you have to do to be a 'parent' is pay a bill every month, then you should be able to get at least that right. You should be happy to do it because it's FOR YOUR KID. If she's complained to him about the bills, it's like she's telling him he's not worth what he costs her. I could see him being very venomous toward anyone who hasn't been doing their share for their child. The fact that it may have been an oversight on the dads part might not be registering with him.

 

The only thing my kids have been told about child support from my end is that I get paid from their dad to help cover the cost of all the things they need, like groceries and clothes, because it's both our responsibility to take care of them. I have no idea if he's said anything to them about that. He sees them about once a month, often for an overnight, but they've figured out, based on me NOT saying no to visits wehn they are suggested, and him sometimes flaking out on visits even after they are arranged, that IF he wanted to see them more often, he could. Unfortunately, their reaction has been to milk him for all he's worth when they do see him. It's their goal when they see him to extract as many toys and treats out of him as they can. They feel he owes them a debt and since he won't pay it in time (what they really want) they will take it whatever way they can. I've talked to them aobut how they're taking advantage of the situation, and that it might be better for their relationship with him if they tone it down, but that's fallen on deaf ears. I think it just needs to play out, I imagine he'll get wise to it sooner or later.


~Teresa, raising DS (Jan. 02) and DD1 (Jun. 04) and DD2 (Dec. 11) with DH.

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Old 01-22-2014, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does your step son know that his mom was excused from paying child support for many years and that your husband now receives it from her?

 

Yes.  She was forced to travel here for mediation, when DH asked for C/S.  DH prepared DSS for all her anger, by explaining that it's normal and appropriate for the NCP to pay support - regardless of gender - and that it was only waived for Mom, to provide extra visits.  "For whatever reason, she's not able to use it for that", so it's routine to change the orders.  DH didn't ask for C/S, to punish or be mean to her.

 

If she has vented to her son about the cost, it might be back-firing on her. Maybe your son feels that his mom owes more than what she's giving, either in money or time, and saw the father in the news story as at-fault because, seriously, he didn't notice the error? If pretty much all you have to do to be a 'parent' is pay a bill every month, then you should be able to get at least that right. You should be happy to do it because it's FOR YOUR KID. If she's complained to him about the bills, it's like she's telling him he's not worth what he costs her.

 

At the time, DSS really took his mom's side:  it "wasn't fair" to make her pay support.  We had plenty of money, so asking for hers was greedy and just made her life harder.  I think he also felt it was unmasculine, on DH's part.  (Of course, if you want to go down that road, one might say it's "unmasculine" for him to be the primary caregiver, too...)  

 

DSS didn't understand our family's finances, because generally if someone goes without, it's not the kids.  He didn't realize that many times, the C/S I receive for the older kids has covered DSS's school tuition or other expenses.  Mostly, DSS bought into Mom's protests that she already provided "so much" financial support, for him; how much more could we want!?  But of course, C/S is not meant to be paid to the child, so he can buy himself things his custodial parent can't afford, or doesn't want him to have.  Nor is the NCP's spending on vacations and shopping sprees during her parenting time "child support".

 

But explaining all of that to DSS seemed mean and unnecessary, so we didn't.  He can think we're mean.  Maybe when he's an adult and a parent, the light bulb will go on, over his head.

 

I could see him being very venomous toward anyone who hasn't been doing their share for their child. The fact that it may have been an oversight on the dads part might not be registering with him.

 

He really seemed to be saying that even though the dad didn't deserve jail, for failing to support the child, maybe he deserved it for being mean to the mom, so it was good that he ended up there, one way or another.  But you may be right that he has a lot of resentment about slacker parents, bubbling under the surface, and that he directed it toward a target that he doesn't feel guilty for hating.

 

The only thing my kids have been told about child support from my end is that I get paid from their dad to help cover the cost of all the things they need, like groceries and clothes, because it's both our responsibility to take care of them. I have no idea if he's said anything to them about that. He sees them about once a month, often for an overnight, but they've figured out, based on me NOT saying no to visits when they are suggested, and him sometimes flaking out on visits even after they are arranged, that IF he wanted to see them more often, he could. Unfortunately, their reaction has been to milk him for all he's worth when they do see him. It's their goal when they see him to extract as many toys and treats out of him as they can. They feel he owes them a debt and since he won't pay it in time (what they really want) they will take it whatever way they can. I've talked to them aobut how they're taking advantage of the situation, and that it might be better for their relationship with him if they tone it down, but that's fallen on deaf ears. I think it just needs to play out, I imagine he'll get wise to it sooner or later.

 

Your kids' behavior sounds understandable, given the circumstances.  If the chief thing Dad gives them is things, get as many as you can, right?  But I know it's frustrating to watch your ex reinforce behavior that you hope your kids will someday unlearn.  It'd be nice if that behavior were never encouraged in the first place, but that's not in your control.  Sorry, Mom!


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Old 01-23-2014, 03:40 AM
 
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My opinion is..don't worry. Or try not to anyways. To me he is simply saying you don't know the entire story (which is true...you don't) You only know what newspapers and media are telling you.

 

But for future conversations I would keep other stories involving blended families going through legal things like this from being brought up from you or his dad. If he finds a story then let him bring it up.


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