Helping Parents Help their Children


When people apply for child support modification, it’s hard for some professionals to refer to a delinquent noncustodial parent as anything other than, for lack of better word, a “deadbeat.” This is a habit support services want to change, but also one that is sometimes justified. Truth is, there are really individuals without the capacity to fulfill obligations.


But, changes in culture, especially in cases that involve personal emotions, are encouraged. According to behavioral studies, individuals derided for negative habits or behavior traits have a greater chance of continuing their bad behavior. In the case of deadbeat parents, if individuals involved in the case (including people outside the family) work against them because of their persona, they will continue reinforcing that personality to the detriment of the child.

Service personnel, especially veteran staff, need to embrace the philosophy to work with troubled parents instead of against them. Positive reinforcement brings these parents into the process, allowing growth in responsibility and confidence, driving them to make alimony payments on time.

On some level, noncustodial parents recognize that they’ve made mistakes, and modification of support for their children is a small way for them to make amends. But, they don’t need people to remind them of their errors every time they write a check. Child support is about fulfilling a responsibility to a child, not a chore scratched off the list at the end of the month.