Buy your Own Food! Child Support Weakens Moms! And Dads! And Kids!
I was eating sushi when a friend at the table grabbed his phone, opened the Cash app and sent some money. He quickly explained over a tuna roll, "I had to send $90 to my daughter's mom--to pay for groceries. No big deal."
Ok, cool--pass me the soy sauce.
And then double-take on that NBD.
Let's dissect this seemingly innocent, kind and responsible action:
In this scenario there's an agreement that Mom will buy food for Baby, text a picture of the receipt, and Dad will reimburse Mom accordingly.
Once you have an agreement, you have loopholes. It's human nature to find the way out, or test the boundaries of staying within the agreement.
Let's assume that Mom is dishonest or has fallen on extremely hard times. It would be pretty easy to spend money on cases of baby food, send a picture of the receipt, and then return the cases for a full refund. While we don't expect our hypothetical Mom to do that, now it's the job of the Dad to not only pay, but to make sure he's not getting cheated.
Mom has the opportunity to spend however she wants. Rather than getting a financial reward for using a coupon, buying in bulk, or shopping at the store with deals--she loses out on the psychological incentives of being a savvy shopper. Dad is going to pay the bill regardless of the amount.
In "The Psychology of Rewards" Jeanette McMurtry explains, "When we get something cheaper than usual, more than what we paid for or something for free, as a rewards program often delivers — in our unconscious minds, we are stronger, better, richer, faster or have more resources than others, and so we are posed to survive. And it’s fun!"
While Mom is doing the shopping, Dad might be getting the Psychological Points for being the financial provider. Dad gets to feel stronger, better, richer, faster, while Mom is hoping Dad will follow through on his promise to pay. This puts her in a weak and needy position; a position we don't want our sons and daughters to think is normal or acceptable.
In the same way, because Dad has no control over the amount on the receipt, he also loses out on the psychological rewards of making better choices.
FOOD IS POWER
Consider Henry Kissinger's famous quote:
Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.
When we enter into an agreement that forces one person to be dependent on the other for food or money, we are agreeing to have control of the recipient. We are saying that a basic survival need can be held in the hands of the giver, and dangled over the other for fun, for power, or even sadistic control.
FOOD STARTS WARS
Since Mom is choosing the food which is shared at both homes, she has substantial control over the child. She is in control of the child's diet, as well as the food that comes into Dad's home. Depending on the difference in dietary values of Mom and Dad, this could be cause for a power struggle over time.
Eating together with your child is a great bonding opportunity. If Mom is buying special food just for Baby that Dad will cover, then she's probably not eating the same food. This is the start of poor eating habits. Likewise, if Baby is showing up at Dad's house with snacks, then Dad isn't eating the same food as Baby. Both parents lose out on the chance to bond and teach positive eating habits.
Terminating the agreement
As a mom who had child support dangled over her, I know the psychological weakness caused by dependence. As a mom who broke free, I also know the psychological strength that comes from terminating that agreement. When we can stop giving and receiving with people who are or have been toxic to us, we can heal and find our own innovation, strength and survival.
We become stronger.
We even become better parents.
So what are the options here? I mean, the kid still needs to eat.
1) Let the co-parent know that you want to simplify the food or child support situation.
2) If you have a 50/50 custody arrangement, explain that you'll each be buying the food that the child is eating when in your care. No more hassle with exchanging money or pictures of receipts.
3) Only see the kid on the weekend? Ok--you can still cover meals for half the week. Considering a 3-meal day, you've got 21 meals in the week. Half is 10.5.
MEAL RUNDOWN SCENARIO
Friday: Dinner with you (Meal 1)
Saturday: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner with you (2, 3, 4)
Sunday: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner with you (5, 6, 7)
As a fun weekend activity, make lunches with the kids (don't tell me you're letting your kids eat Government Lunches. Talk about neediness and dependency! Go back up to the top and re-read this article with Dad playing the role of the Federal Government):
Monday: Packed lunch for school (8)
Tuesday: Packed lunch for school (9)
Wednesday: Packed lunch for school (10)
Thursday: Half of a packed lunch for school (10.5)
By sending packed lunches for school, you're not influencing your co-parent's personal home life.
If your kid is eating Government-Controlled Lunches at school, then you only need to cover 8 meals each week. Pack a breakfast sandwich on Sunday night that the kid can eat Monday morning, and call it good.
4) Let your co-parent be the strong, capable person they were born to be. Allow them to prove to themselves and to your kids that they can survive and provide for the family 50% of the time.
5) Refuse to get into any agreement that will leave your co-parent and child in a worse situation, if you suddenly died or became paralyzed from the neck down. That's the basic test to see if an agreement is healthy or not. Just ask yourself, "Can I uphold my end of the agreement if I'm dead?" If not, then give your co-parent the opportunity NOW, while you're there as a back-up plan, to figure it out on his/her own.
Getting your power back is terrifying at first.
My personal financial picture catapulted into success when I walked away from child support payments. It was terrifying and it felt unfair at times, but it wasn't long and I was making 10 times more a month than he had ever paid me. The energy I had been spending on guessing if and when he would pay me was much more productive put into my career.
Just a few years after I took my power back, my daughter's father passed away. I was so thankful that the only thing I needed to worry about was supporting my daughter emotionally. I didn't need to worry about how we would eat, or pay rent. I wasn't afraid. I knew that we would survive the pain of loss. My psychological points gave me the confidence and security I needed, and that my daughter needed from me.
Instill strength in your child by letting your co-parent be strong. Instill strength in your child by allowing yourself to back away 50% of the time!
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Hi, my name is Angela. My parents were in "extreme poverty" when I was in school with my 3+ siblings. We qualified for all the programs, especially the reduced breakfast/lunches! My parents were horrified with the meals that were served and chose to get creative at home. I packed a lunch every day from 1st grade to high school! I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in high school and have spent the last two decades studying and experimenting with what foods make me feel good and which ones send me to bed. I want great things for the children of America! My hope is that we will strive to be HEALTHIER and that we will take extreme measures to get there.
This appeared in my Facebook feed today and it made me so queasy I just had to blog about it. So McDonald's is offering a "FREE" breakfast to kids in San Antonio who are taking a standardized test. And moms are eating it up! I think some families have pitched tents already in order to be first in line for this freebie (joke).
So let's talk about how expensive this free breakfast is. And while we're here, we can touch on the food served through the federal government free breakfast/lunch program. There is little difference between the food served at McDonald's and the food served at your child's school.
The costs of victimization:
In low-income neighborhoods and cities (and Indian Reservations) we see a pattern of The People saying, "I'm poor." And then a government entity steps in and says, "You are poor AND miserable AND you need our help, or else!" And The People respond with, "Ok, we'll take your help!"
And the help shows up! Just fill out these forms and you can eat, sleep and live joyously for NOTHING!
And The People eat that up! They get the help they need and then POOF! they become productive members of society, make more money, stop making poor choices and SHA-ZAM! they no longer need the government assistance!
That's not how it happens, is it? No. The programs reinforce an idea, an identity. The People keep thinking, with every bite, every free program, "I am poor. I am a victim. I can't do this on my own. I'm miserable. I am really needy. I need more and more and more help from the government. Life isn't fair. I'll never get ahead. I'll never succeed."
Right? You've seen it. Experienced it perhaps. It takes tremendous willpower to break free from the Victim Identity.
The costs of poor health:
In terms of your salary, being obese is the same as not having an undergraduate degree, says one crazy study.
So we send our kids to "college-prep" schools, but then load them up with sugar and processed carbs and hope for the best.
"Well at least they're eating SOMETHING," I hear over and over again. Really? Do you treat your guests and your own children like that? Here, eat some cardboard. IT'S SOMETHING. If you have ANY sense of responsibility for the children who are truly starving, please feel they deserve our BEST food, not our worst.
Obesity and diabetes is on the rise, and this just further contributes to poor education, poor salary, poor quality of life. Oh, and death!
In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. ONE THIRD!
San Antonio is one of the most overweight cities in America.
76% of San Antonio students eat the Government-Served lunch, and 76% of those students get it for free (rough estimate based on years 2012-2014).
476,955 Bexar County Child Population 2013
317538 Bexar County Student Population (ages 6-17) year 2012
240,339 Bexar County Lunch Program 2013
183,314 Bexar County Free or Reduced Lunch 2013
44,000 San Antonio children in extreme poverty (50% of Poverty threshold) 2013
"Obesity rates among certain ethnic and racial populations in San Antonio are disproportionately high. For example, in Bexar County, 27% of black and Hispanic children are obese, while only 12% of white children are obese."
I'm so confused by all these numbers! They seem to indicate that the non-white kids are going hungry, and yet it's the white kids who are not obese. Which means the "ethnic and racial" kids are getting fat. How can a child be obese AND going hungry?
It's simple: refined sugars, processed carbs, no fruit, no vegetables. That will keep you hungry AND make you fat.
But really, I don't buy those numbers. There are far less kids going hungry than we're told. The "poverty level" is set comfortably at "living like kings" compared to other countries. Yes, there are hungry kids. But it's a handful! We do not need a meal program that serves 76% of students when only 10% need it.
The costs of a lost culture:
In our "impoverished" neighborhood my daughter hangs out with her friends. Many of the homes are run down and the grandparents or parents survive on a fixed income. But guess what--she always comes back with a full stomach and food to share.
Outside of America it is a cultural necessity to cook and bake and share food with family and friends. Even when you have nothing in the cupboard, you find something, you create something.
Government handouts in San Antonio have raped a culture of their food, their way of connecting and socializing. We have said, "We know what you should eat better than you do."
And so the pounds add up, and the people get sick. And the people lose their jobs. And the people are not people anymore; just victims waiting in line at McDonald's for another free meal.
What to do about it:
Stop participating! Refuse to fill out any forms about your income and do not let your child eat the federal school lunch/breakfast.
Send your child to school with a HEALTHY lunch and a full tummy.
Get healthy at home.
One fun game: My daughter is learning about plants in school. But there's no trace of a plant at the lunch table. At home she is taught, "We eat the thing closest to the tree." We play a game: what's closer to the tree? The apple or the apple juice? The candy bar or the almonds? Kids love this game and it's helpful in making those harder meal choices later on in life at an airport or even a vending machine.
What's nutritionally wrong with the McDonald's breakfast? It's just oatmeal! Right?! WRONG.
Angela's Musings about Public Education, Web Design, Business.