I went to a holiday party last night and at the end of the night wound up visiting with a new friend. As always, women gravitate eventually towards questions like "Do you have any kids?" and when faces start to shift, I always know what's coming. My new friend stated "yes, I have three. 17, 15 and 9. The first two boys are my step-kids" which was was clearly obvious, she looks to be about 27 herself. So I just had to go there ~ "how's that working out for you?" Yeah, it's not really, she replied.
Without prompting, she launched into a diatribe about the kids, the ex, her hubs and her own child (the 9 is hers, not a "theirs") and how difficult it is to maneuver through the crap. Her ex is out of the picture, never sees her 9 year old daughter and hasn't since she was 3. End result = perfect bliss. The older boys are an entirely different story.
Her hubs ex actually told them she was going to need them to pay the down payment of her new house. Yep, you read that right. See, she is pregnant and only has a 3 bedroom house, so when the baby is born the two older boys will have to share a room. The bio dad got mad and said that's not acceptable, they are 17 and 15 and won't have enough space. Her solution? I'll buy a new house, but you're paying the down payment since you are making us move.
Are you freakin' kidding me?? Best ever ~ HE DID IT! Oh My God. Serious bio dad guilt in play here.
So my new friend is stuck. Of course she works full time, has a great job with a great income, and it pays the down payment of her hubs' ex's house. I would shoot myself in that situation.
Not to mention all the other stuff that comes with teenage boys. Boys are so different than girls in every single way. They don't have the same type of drama, but they do have drama. I'm lucky in that Bubba was actually a very cool teenager. He rarely got into trouble but when he did he would take full responsibility along with his punishment fairly easily and didn't usually repeat the negative behaviour. Sure he made some silly mistakes but all teenagers do!
I think one of the hardest things for people that have kids, steps and ex's to deal with is money. It causes everyone to lose focus of the responsibility of raising the kids and making them come first. Everyone seems to fight over child support, doctors bills, school clothes.. on and on and on.
My experience was easy. Wrote court ordered child support in the decree. Easy peasy. He didn't pay the courts collected and not me. I did attempt to get my ex to help with sports fees and other stuff but it was pretty much a useless conversation. Ex's 2nd wife did an awesome job buying Bubba stuff he needed when he was with them so that was very helpful. By the time Bubba went to private high school I foot the bill for all of it - it just wasn't worth the conversation any longer. Pulling teeth, as I always said. And by then, 2nd wife left and was collecting child support on their 3 daughters so there wasn't anything left to get anyway I'm sure. Same for the wedding, didn't even bother to ask.
I wonder what would happen if money wasn't an issue? If parents could just focus on being parents? Hmm, novel concept. But that will never happen.
I have a GREAT idea: there are a zillion calculators on the average cost of a child from birth to 18 with LOTS of different factors (salaries, housing, college, etc), but it's somewhere in the $250,000 range. So just do the math ~ make it unemotional. You divorce when you are kid is 12, you have 6 years to "pay". That's roughly $83,333, or $41,667 per person (bio mom and dad). Cold hard fact, not taking into consideration who makes more (because I don't care about that - it's equal responsibility in my eyes). That's $6,945 a year or $578.71 per month. BOTH bio mom and bio dad put $578.71 per month in a bank account for the kid - no matter what. EVERYTHING the kid needs gets pulled out of that account. Period. End of discussion. Of course you'll still fight over whether they should play competitive basketball or join the ballet but at least there is money to pay for it.
Can't afford it? Easy. Don't have kids!
They should teach that to every kid in high school. Mandatory class. Make the kids think about whether or not they EVER want to be divorced and coparent. I bet some would think twice!