Can You Be A Good Father Without Paying Child Support?

Posted by on Aug 1, 2011

There’s an unhealthy obsession that the public has with celebrity child support cases. A judge rules that Nas has to pay $5,000 per month in child support (and $20,000 in spousal support). The crowd cheers. 50 Cent’s baby mama gets a reduction in child support to $6,700 per month. The crowd boos. Diddy’s child support payments are concealed, but word on the street is that Misa, one of his children’s mothers, can pay him what he pays her for their son. The crowd scratches their heads in disbelief.

While it’s extremely important that fathers share financial responsibility in providing for their children, there’s more to fatherhood than a monthly money transfer, even if you’re a celebrity. Fatherhood requires participation in childrearing, spending quality time with your children, and supporting each child in their interests. The core of being a good father lies in these responsibilities, not simply making monthly payments.

It may not be as salacious, but it’s interesting that the public shows a lack of concern for the non-financial matters of celebrity fatherhood. If 50 Cent, Diddy, or Nas aren’t in court battling out finances with their children’s mothers, we rarely hear about their roles as fathers and how else they’re contributing to their children’s lives. While we don’t know the details of each parent-child relationship or if there is anything positive for the press to cover, in general, we could use more testimonies of good fathers in pop culture.

Imagine the impact of more stories featuring great celebrity dads spending time with their children. Imagine the inspiration that these stories would provide ordinary dads trying to figure out their roles as fathers. Fatherhood isn’t always innate, and some men need more motivation than others. Role modeling is powerful, and giving men famous references for how to show their children love and affection would do kids more good.

Think Bill Cosby, and how he reaffirmed black fatherhood in pop culture spaces. Think Will Smith and how he’s publicly spoken about the importance of fatherhood and his role in his children’s lives. Think Barack Obama, and how he’s even written a book dedicated to his daughters, while showing them so much love and affection as he simultaneously performs his duty as President of the United States.

Do all of these men financially provide for their children? Absolutely. And while they’re all married, Will Smith also has another child apart from his wife, for whom he also shows public affection and takes joy in his role as a father. Do we hear about his child support payments? Hardly. Simply put, that’s not why he’s a great father. These men are amazing dads because they’re active participants in their children’s lives. That should be the conversation and story that we align with celebrity fatherhood.

Has our obsession with celebrity child support cases gone too far? How do you measure good fatherhood? Is it by monthly payments? Or quality time? Weigh in.

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