Baby mamas should grow up
WITH OUT-OF-wedlock birth rates soaring and various baby-mama and baby-daddy arrangements the new norm, particularly among athletes and entertainers, it takes a lot to make news. But Brynn Cameron, a former USC basketball player, broke through.
Her first baby-daddy was former USC and NFL quarterback Matt Leinart. The newest addition to her growing family is the child of the LA Clippers' Blake Griffin. Cameron is neither married to nor in a relationship with either pro athlete. Cameron is a very public face of the 28 percent of American women who have at least two children with different fathers.
The biggest concern that I have with Cameron is that she projects an air of normalcy, when her situation is anything but normal: According to reports, she is receiving $15,000 a month in child support from Leinart, and it is presumed she'll get the same or more from Griffin. In fact, Cameron was used as a launch point by some commentators to shout down anyone who was critical of all of this and to argue that this woman is independent and using the system effectively to take care of her kids.
It's time for a bit of common sense. Don't you think that an already-difficult situation with baby-daddy Leinart is intensified by the appearance of another baby-daddy, who is also a public figure?
There is, of course, the reality that the majority of women do not get $15,000 per month for the support of their child from the biological father. Census figures for 2009 indicate that only 41.2 percent of custodial parents receive the full amount of child support due, and the number is declining.
An estimated 13.7 million parents had custody of 22 million children younger than 21 while the other parent lived somewhere else. More than a quarter (28.3 percent) of all custodial parents had incomes below poverty. Only 50.6 percent of all custodial parents had legal or informal child-support agreements.
All these statistics lead me to another troubling facet of all these baby-mama and baby-daddy arrangements. The problem comes in the form of a trend represented by a caller to my show last week whom I'll call the "Suburban Caller." She was reacting to my feelings about a well-dressed 28- to 30-year-old woman that I was recently behind in line at the local Acme.
This woman charged her bill on food stamps and walked in heels to a car that I guessed to be a 2011 or 2012 model parked in a handicapped parking space. The Suburban Caller told me that she got food stamps and applied for other government assistance because she had a young child with cerebral palsy and the child's father had abandoned them soon after the diagnosis.
When I pressed her about getting child support from the father, she told me that she was independent of him, and that if he wasn't good enough to be a father, she had no desire to be in contact with him. Is this some new form of feminism in which the woman severs all ties with the father but instead opts for a new man, namely Uncle Sam?
This is a growing body of at least anecdotal evidence that more women are thinking like the Suburban Caller, who told me she had worked in past and had paid taxes, so those taxes should be there now to support her and her child. My response was that our taxes go to setting up courts, and enforcement agencies to try to force dads to support their children. I also said it was her duty to pursue the father.
The word "duty" got the Suburban Caller to tell me to "back off, back off." Isn't her duty to at least try to get support? As a taxpayer, do you want to pay for her faux independence?
I understand that no one should remain in a bad marriage just to be with a good or decent provider. But is using food stamps and other government programs really "progress"?
My listeners, particularly female callers, don't think so. I have not received so many calls, emails and Facebook comments about any other call in a long time. They all share a common view that this caller represents so many of the issues they have being forced to pay for the bad decisions of an increasing number of fellow Americans. Shouldn't this woman make every effort and use every legal option to make sure the father owns up to his responsibility?
The message I have heard from my audience is that we don't want children to suffer, but this is a painful and growing example of the baby-mama and baby-daddy culture. I wonder how long Brynn Cameron will receive $15,000 a month when Leinart is done with his NFL money. I wonder why women would feel better about food stamps versus the support due to their child.
Maybe Gloria Allred can stage an intervention show. Until then, remember the key word in all this is not your independence, but your duty to your child.
Dom Giordano is heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on WPHT 1210-AM Radio.