CHILD SUPPORT AND CONSEQUENCES, PART 7 As the holidays start to waft towards those who are non-custodial parents, the annual ‘guilt bags’ start to arrive on the doorstep. Yes, you have done your best to keep up your Child Support payments, regardless of the criticism levied at you by the mainstream press, the government, feminists, and custodial parent groups. However, these selfsame groups will NOT admit that you have a right to VISITATION of those children you have been paying for--even though Visitation Rights are just as much the law as Child Support payments. Nevertheless brothers, you are still ‘bummed out’ about not being able to spend time with your children, and you are wondering what to do to get over this dark cloud on your holiday horizon. Let this column be your guide. Because there ARE things that you can do to be with your children, regardless of what the courts, your ex, and the chorus of naysayers may spout during the holiday season. A WISE WOMAN SPEAKS: Regina Nicholson works as a volunteer in the courts in Atlanta, Georgia. She recently dropped a long letter into my mailbag and some of the contents were worth sharing: “Not all women are vicious, but I'm beginning to think at least 80% of them are spiteful and I'm a woman! Women need to realize, "Okay, the relationship ended. I might not like him anymore but the children have nothing to do with our relationship." Some women think they had a "Virgin" birth without help from the father! I think having a close relationship with my Dad and Granddad helped me to understand people are people, regardless of gender. I think of all the times my Dad had tea parties with me. He attended my pageants and my "girlie" activities. He was my first softball coach. He helped me grow into a self-reliant woman and was my football buddy along with my Granddad. My Granddad was my heart. His words of wisdom and support were insurmountable. He also supported my activities. That's why I am a strong advocate for Dads being a part of their child's life. Why are feminists so eager to come to the aid of bad mothers who maim and kill their children but fail to rally around a good father? Children need contact with both of their parents. It is so important for their well being! People's rights are being taken away from them, slowly but surely. It reminds me of the poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller: They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist; They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a socialist; They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader; They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me. I just don't want to be guilty of not assisting those who rights have been disregarded. My paternal grandmother always told me to remember where your rights end, another's begin.” THEY WILL SEEK YOU OUT: For the remainder of this column, I’m going to supply a few tips to get through the holidays and into the New Year for non-custodial parents by means of action and inspiration. Please don’t think that due to a failure you are a failure. Everyone has come up short from time to time. Stop beating up on yourself and dance with life, instead of being towed around by strife and bitterness. You can’t control what you ‘ex’ is doing. You can’t control what the courts are saying. You can’t control how your kids are reacting. But you can control you. The first suggestion, right off the bat, is to realize that you CAN build a legacy that your children will be proud of and share with their children, years--perhaps decades down the road. My Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Fitzhugh L. Lyons, Sr. has been a preacher for more than 50 years. He has seen the effects of one parent keeping the children away from the other parent. “Water seeks its own level,” he likes to say, “and no matter how much the other parent may disrespect you, and try to poison your children against you, they WILL seek you out, to hear your side. Be ready with an answer when they come to see you.” BUILDING A SPIRITUAL LEGACY: The first legacy any non-custodial parent should seek to build for their children is a spiritual one. This simply means, if you are a Christian and attend church, you should start, continue, and consistently pray for EACH one of your children. “Court orders” didn’t stop Job from praying for his kids, and he had ten of them the first time around. Prayer not only gets your heart ready for the good news of life, it provides that something ‘extra’ to get you through the hard times. Build a legacy ‘kit’, full of letters, good books, and items that will show your children what kind of man you are, and how you have changed for the better, regardless of what the ‘naysayers’ would like to state. Most of all include a small Bible for each child, with an inscription concerning YOUR faith that God will lead them as he has led you. BUILDING A HUMOR LEGACY: What legacy kit would be complete without taking time to laugh? I’ve also packed away a few of my ‘funnies’ for my children. Yes, I have kept them ‘clean’, which is a MAJOR prerequisite for developing character and quality in my children, and their children. Brothers, take the time to pass on funny stories. Quotes. Family happenings. Some of the things that YOU got in trouble for, when YOU were growing up. Or, your parents in their growing-up years. I will guarantee you that with each laugh, your child will be draw closer to the ‘real you’. Closer than your ‘ex’ will ever be able to drive them away. BUILDING INSPIRATION, DREAMS, AND ECOURAGEMENT: Possibly the most important portion of your legacy arsenal are a few items that give your children the opportunity to be themselves, and shoot for their own goals. They must discover how to use their own talents, skills, and abilities to make their way along in life. They are originals--not carbon copies. Brothers, if YOU weren’t a ‘sports star’ when you were growing up, why put such an unrealistic expectation on your kids? There is a need for doctors, teachers, and even poets. Give your children the freedom to dream and inspire them to reach for the stars--even if the sky is overcast and dark. Give them some words and heroes that will warm them when the fires of life have gone out. Yes, maybe your marriage ended before its time. That doesn’t mean that your children can’t have strong marriages and their own identity. Just make sure that you take the time to let them know, within your legacy kit, how much you love them…and how proud you are of them. No court on earth can stop you from leaving that love for your children. Mike Ramey is the author of THE MANHOOD LINE, a syndicated, monthly column written for men from a biblical, business, and common sense perspective. Emails welcome to [email protected]. ©2003 Mike Ramey/Barnstorm Communications (1).