I’m a card-carrying member of the Second Wives Club, and so I understand what it means to write the child support check to the first wife and be a little mad about it—to question why one little child needs such large sums of cash when he has a perfectly able-bodied mother to care for him.
Now that I have two children of my own, I think a little differently about such things—understand the enormous sums it takes to provide for a child. The mortgage/rent. The heat and light and water bills. The groceries. The clothing. The school tuition. The extracurriculars. The car and gas to get the kids to said extracurriculars. Child care. The list goes on.
For sure, kids ain’t cheap.
This, of course, shouldn’t be a revelation to anyone who takes two seconds to think about it. But last week, folks all across the Hip Hop world were calling LaShon Dixon, the mother of Clifford “T.I.” Harris’s 7- and 9-year-old sons, all kinds of trifling for demanding—and getting—an increase in child support payments from her rapper/baby daddy. Let fans of radio stations like Atlanta’s V-103 or blogs like Black Celebrity Kids tell it, and Dixon is a lazy, good-for-nothing, greedy heiffa who needs to get a job and stop trying to use her ex’s riches to live high on the hog.
How much did she get to warrant such bashing, you ask?
According to The Associated Press, $5,000 per month, plus medical expenses. For both kids. Up from $3,000 per month. And minus school tuition and half the cost of their extracurricular activities.
That’s $2,500 per month, per kid—not all that much more than what my husband, who is not a high-profile rapper, movie star, music producer, or world-touring musician, was paying from his everyday, real regular journalist paycheck when he was writing child support checks.
Now, I won’t presume to know what’s in T.I.’s bank account (and his current girlfriend blogs that T.I. is extremely generous off the books), but I’m pretty sure he’s got a lot more in his than Nick and I ever had in ours. And maybe—just maybe—we should hold off on questioning why a woman raising two kids on her own would have a problem with getting a measly $5,000 per month in child support from her sons’ super-rich dad, particularly with the lack of jobs and an ever-increasing economy in which average, everyday people are struggling to pay mortgages and car notes and tuition and grocery bills, let alone make a nice life for their children.
I find it ironic that nobody really made all that much of a fuss when Russell Simmons agreed to pay his ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons $40,000 per month—PER MONTH!—to raise their children, a sum that doesn’t include the $60,000 car he has to purchase for her every three years to shuttle around their two girls, Ming and Aoki.
The point of child support is so that the kids will have the same or similar lifestyle as they would if their mother and father were together.
By that standard, Kimora’s child support payments make perfect sense.
Not so much.
What I wish folks would remember is that the point isn’t so much about whether T.I.’s ex should go and get a job. The point is how would those children be living if she were still with their father? My guess is that Dixon wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to pay the mortgage, the tuition, and the soccer fees on $5000.
Maybe this is what we should be debating—you know, saving the “evil, greedy, lazy single mom” talk for another day, another somebody.
I’m just saying.