Mom milking the system or super Mom?

Brenda - posted on 09/15/2009 ( 16 moms have responded )

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I have some mixed feelings about a friends situation and I wanted to get your opinions. I will try to keep the explanation brief even though I am really frustrated... so no promises LOL

My friend Megan was told she could never have kids (blah blah blah- we all know the story) and she ended up getting pregnant by a live in boyfriend. The guy left while she was pregnant and she went ahead with the pregnancy knowing he would not provide any emotional or financial support. She gave birth to a healthy little girl and named her daughter, Kate.

Fast forward-- Megan's daughter Kate is now 13 and in 7th grade. Her Dad (aka sperm donor) pops in and out of her life and pays child support when it's convenient (read: once in a blue moon). Megan never really pushes the child support issue because A) she doesn't want him around to begin with and she worries he will want to use his rights to see Kate if he is forced to pay support and B) getting child support from him effects her food stamps and other welfare.



Megan mainly works under the table so she doesn't have to pay taxes. Her tax statements for last year showed she made under $11K for the entire year. Obviously, this is completely impossible given the fact her rent alone is $1200 per month. Megan refuses to get a "normal" job because she wants to be home as much as possible for her daughter, which is understandable, BUT... there are many women that are single mothers and don't abuse the system in this manner. So Megan babysits and does odd jobs for different people to make ends meet.



About 4 years ago, Megan's daughter (who is a wannabe Diva) got it in her head that she wanted to attend a private school. She was infatuated with that show Zoey 101, about a girl at some private boarding school. Well Megan has a hard time telling Kate "No" and I think a lot of it stems from guilt over Kate's bio Dad being such a loser but regardless... whatever Kate wants, Kate usually gets. Megan found a very exclusive private school nearby and she asked for financial aid (read: she wanted Kate to attend for FREE since they are so poor). The school was more than eager to enroll Kate and she has been at this school the past few years. This school is amazing-- their "field trips" are more like mini vacations where Kate will be gone for 3-4 days at a time. There are two teachers per classroom and tons of one on one time with the students. It's seriously the most amazing place. For normal folks like you and I however, tuition would be $18K a year.

Another thing that irks me is this... Kate wanted a dog because, again, she thinks she is some sort of pop star/diva and she wanted a little dog to tote around and put in purses. Well I don't know how many of you are familiar with the American Girl dolls, but the dog from this line is a little West Highland Terrier named Coconut. Well, Kate got it in her head that she needed this kind of dog. Mind you, neither of them know anything about the breed, they just think it's really cute. I tried talking Megan out of it, explaining how much grooming and pet care would be, the time it would take to train such a dog, etc... but NO WAY- Kate wanted it and Kate gets what she wants. Megan found a breeder who had Westies for $700 each. Of course she can't afford this, so she gives the breeder a sob story about how she is a hard working single mother and all her poor little girl wants is this dog. The breeder wouldn't lower the price, but finally agrees to let her take the dog and make payments on it each month!! i just couldn't believe it! Well low and behold, a several months later this puppy grows up and it's not as cute anymore. Not only that, but its expensive to have a pet groomed and OMG, the dog chews things up and is hard to train-- DUH. It's just so frustrating for me to watch sometimes.



Anyway. I just don't know how to feel about it sometimes. On one hand I feel like Megan is really sacrificing material comforts (at least her own, Kate doesn't ever do without) so she can raise her daughter and be really involved in her life. The on the other hand, I am frustrated because I know tax payers like myself are footing the bill so she doesn't have to work a real job and contribute to society.



So which is it-- Is Megan milking the system or is she just a super Mom who wants the best for her daughter and is willing to make major sacrifices to get it?

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Amie - posted on 09/15/2009

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I'm torn on this issue. I've been a single mom to two kids. It's not easy and I got help when needed.

Private school? Well maybe if they got in on scholarship. I'm not really open to the one in our area though since it does teach Catholicism. Which is fine for some but I don't want some teacher drilling God into my kids head or that their way is the only way.

As for under the table jobs. I do that now! We have 4 kids, a mortgage, monthly bills, if I can pick up a few extra bucks babysitting here and there or doing yard work for one of our elderly neighbors then I will. We don't collect from the government though.
At one time I did receive assistance for awhile but I still did those same things. What the government helps with (at least here) is not much.

However, I do think she is setting her child up for a very rude, very real reality check when she's older. Bending to your child's whims just because they throw a fit or demand it is not good parenting. It's just not. My kids lack for nothing but they also are well behaved because they were raised with rules and boundaries.

[deleted account]

I definitely think she's milking the system, and people like that piss me off. I have no problem whatsoever helping those who need help (i.e. those who really *don't* have enough money for rent or food), but I have serious problems with footing the bill for someone's food when they live in a wonderful home (and depending on where she is, 1200 in rent might buy her a very nice-or a just a little nice-place to live) and buy expensive things. As far as the private school tuition-eh, whatever. That school is supporting her, not the government, so I have no problems with the scholarship.



What I do have a problem with is that she's not doing all of this to get what her daughter needs-she's doing it to get what her daughter wants. And those are not the same things. In many ways, I would love to be able to buy my son everything he ever asks for, but I know that as a person who works hard and pays taxes in middle class America, that's not ever going to happen for me (at least not unless some long lost rich relative leaves me a lot of money). So instead, I'll teach him something more valuable than indulging every whim-that it's important to work hard for the things you have, and to appreciate the things you do have.

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Jodi - posted on 09/17/2009

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Brenda, I kind of understand what you mean. It does seem to be a little of both. I have been a single mother, but never needed assistance - I had a well paid job, and could afford to get by without help (which was just as well, because we'd have starved if we waited for my ex to pay up, even to this day!!).

Anyway, my husband's ex does a bit of this type of stuff and it annoys the crap out of me. She works for cash, so there is very little income to declare, and this affects how much child support my husband has to pay, and so on. It also affects his son - he wants a Nintendo this and he bloody gets it. I don't think he gets out from behind all of his games and game consoles when he is at his mother's house!! Surely someone has to say NO to these kids sometimes.

So sometimes, these things that people do to get things for free or to wrought the system DO have effect on others, and I am not okay with it. I put up with it for the sake of a bit of peace, but I don't agree with it. These people milking the system (whether it be government or otherwise) are depriving those who really need it!!

Jeannette - posted on 09/16/2009

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Brenda...your "friend" (abuser) is milking the system, you, and anyone else she can get to stand still long enough to hear her story.

I have been a single mom and needed assistance. Making a few dollars under the table, I could see, but a living? Please...isn't that why so many of us are pissed about illegal immigrants working here? They don't pay into a system that they use/abuse?

Yeah, your friend got her daughter into a good school...great...I don't think that made Paris Hilton smart. I think her father had the money to hire her someone to manage her money for her. I don't think your friend is going to have that option when her daughter is grown.

Not only that, but consider this: her daughter is going to grow up with her mother's values in place. So, when she graduates from high school, is she going to sob and whine her way into college? Is she going to milk the system or a person? Just because her daughter has the opportunity to get a stellar education, doesn't mean the girl is going to have the wits about her to actually do that.

If I were you, I'd stop enabling your "friend". Tell her you're too busy to do her hair. Hey, she chose to have the kid, spoil the kid, live the way she does...not YOU.

She makes all of the single moms who are decent people look bad...that is her torch, her mantra, if you will - "I'm a single mom!" - as if women are incapable little ninnies who can't be resourceful! I'm glad most of the single women I know don't make me feel ashamed to be a woman.

As for everyone who thinks this nincumpoop is a good mom with a few probs...great, I won't feel bad for quitting my job so my family will qualify for something.

Has no one ethics any more? Oh, yeah, me and a few people that I know.

When someone tries to get over once, to get by, one thing...this woman uses it as a lifestyle. She should grow up...or pass out whatever she's smoking so that I won't give a damn.



edited: to change a word

[deleted account]

I think she is unintentionally (maybe) setting her daughter up for a fall.

Her daughter thinks she can get whatever she wants and no one can say "no" to her.

What happends when she gets older and she starts dating? No guy in their right mind will want to pick up where her mother left off.

Can she not get a job for herself?

As for the mother, I can understand her wanting to give her daughter a good life but she needs to learn to say "no".

I knew of a lady in the same boat as your friend, her daughter literaly walked over her, sabotaged her relationships, was never disaplined and got what she wanted.

Konda - posted on 09/15/2009

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I think(from my single-parent friends) that often they feel like they have to give into their kids because they feel guilty because the child is missing something.....the other parent. I know that my friend get a tax 'refund' check( or use to) of like $5000 every year. She blows every cent on the kids, a nice vacation, video games, and so on. It always irritated me because she often made snide remarks about what money I had or made and because my father helped me build a house......I never understood why she wouldn't put that $5k into a house or something to have a stable life for the kids. Yet, I guess she feels that few moments of happiness is better.

So I can understand why you friend is doing what she is doing.

[deleted account]

Brenda, I can completely relate to you. I have been dealing with my friend Michelle in a similar circumstance. She has always had SOMEONE to financially fall back on and help her out. Her 14 year old daughter can sometimes fit the 'diva/princess' profile. They both have this mentality that things happen to them "And it's not my fault". Please take responsibility for your own actions! It's always shifting blame on someone else and somehow they always find someone to help fend off the creditors and repo man. I have helped her with bills, phone, electricity, etc. countless times. So I do understand the frustration you feel when you are constantly helping the same person again and again and again. To be honest, after awhile you simply feel used.

Brenda - posted on 09/15/2009

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First off, Evelyn, yes she is my friend... in fact I help her out a lot with various things so she doesn't have to worry about additional expenses-- for example I do her hair for free & color it if she buys the products and I helped her get her yard seeded last spring. I don't think that me being frustrated with some of her choices and parenting decisions makes me a "bad" friend, I simply don't know how to feel regarding many of her choices.
She came to my house this morning for a root touch up and asked to use my computer because her cable & internet have been turned off. She jumped online and proceeded to look up hotels in northern Washington. I asked her what she was doing and she said that Kate's birthday was coming up and she wanted to take her up north for the weekend so they could shop at the outlet malls. So I am left scratching my head and wondering "WTH, her internet & cable were just shut off because she has no cash, yet she is planning a shopping spree...?" To further confirm the fact she has no cash, she logged onto her banking account and said "Oh look, I have a whopping $9 left in my account!" I just don't see how planning a (in my opinion) FRIVOLOUS weekend getaway is beneficial for her daughter. Whats so wrong with being honest and saying "Hey Kate, I don't have the money for an elaborate birthday this year..."
When I am out with my kids and they ask me for something, I have no problem telling them "No". If my kid wanted to take off for a weekend, stay in a hotel and go shopping-- guess what? I would tell them NO. I don't care if it's their birthday, when you can't afford something, you can't afford it. I tell my kids all the time "I don't have the money for that..." and when I do get them things, they are grateful for what they do receive. Megan and Kate have the attitude that they are owed a lot of the time and THAT is an issue. And yes, I have talked to her about it.
As for me calling her daughter a "Diva"... well, if the shoe fits. Megan is creating a monster by giving into her daughters every whim. Her daughter has ZERO concept of what things cost and she doesn't understand the sacrifices Megan makes to give Kate a better life. Sometimes I think Megan is living vicariously through her daughter because of comments she makes like "I wish I could have done that at Kate's age..."
Being denied certain things in your life is not necessarily a BAD thing and expecting people to work for what they want is a basic principle that every parent needs to instill in their children. Because Kate attends a very prestigious school, she wants to look a certain way, dress a certain way and she has very expensive taste (Juicy Couture make up for example...). It's just NOT realistic when you're living pay check to pay check. So yes, I call Kate a "Diva" and a "Princess" to her face and in front of her mother because I think it's ridiculous that a CHILD runs the household.
I would be able to deal with what Megan does and the choices she makes if she really was using her situation to teach her daughter about life. I often feel like Megan is doing her daughter an injustice by not saying NO, not expecting her daughter to be responsible or earn her own way and by not setting boundaries. No private schools in the world can fix that.
I honestly can't say I wouldn't do SOME of the things Megan does for Kate. Do I want the best possible education for my kids? ABSOLUTELY. Would I LOVE to send my kids to private school? Of course! But when my kids came to me wanting cell phones, designer clothing and expensive toys, I would HAVE to tell them NO. The reason my child would be at that private school is for their education not because she wants to be a little Paris Hilton (who Kate LOVES btw- GROSS)
Megan is not an uneducated woman. She takes online classes from the college for free and she has two degrees- business & early childhood education. She keeps taking classes because she gets scholarships to pay for their living expenses. She doesn't necessarily plan to use them in a career, it's just a way to make money. When I started taking medical billing courses last Spring, she immediately signed up with me, even though she has no intention of using the degree.
I don't know if I will ever fully understand her. It's just frustrating sometimes because I feel like it's not really appreciated, just more expected.

[deleted account]

It sounds to me like your friend is a little of both, but to me she seems more like she's milking the system. It sounds like she does sacrifice a lot for herself, but at the same time, she has spoiled her daughter, and one day in the not so distant future her daughter is going to get a rude awakening when the "real world" comes crashing down on her. I don't think the mom is doing the daughter any favors by letting her live a "diva" lifestyle on a "tuna fish" budget. There are hard working people who don't even qualify for assistance that can't do some of the things for their kids that you described. Also, just going on what you described, it sounds like your friend needs to do a little growing up of her own. Just because she CAN abuse the system doesn't mean she SHOULD. Lots of single moms work legitimate (over the counter) jobs, raise healthy and happy children and all on their own. Just my opinion, and I can understand your frustration. A friend of mine and her husband don't work. He hasn't worked in 5 years and she in one year (she was injured on the job). They live on her unemployment, food stamps, cash assistance and charity. Somehow, they always seem to have more than their fair share.....cable, high speed internet, cell phones, they eat steak a lot.....they live better milking the system than my family (and my husband works 60 hours a week). So I feel ya girl. Really, there's nothing you can do to change your friend's behavior. You just have to sit back and let her figure it out on her own and hope that one day she realizes that what she is doing is wrong.



EDITED to add: I just wanted to add that I don't think getting her into a good school was wrong. That sounds like a smart move on your friend's part. It's all the other spoiling I'm talking about....the never saying "no". That's not doing her daughter any favors. And I also think working strictly under the table is wrong. Just wanted to clarify because I just re-read my post and it sounded judgemental and I promise I'm not trying to be.

September - posted on 09/15/2009

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It sounds like she is using her resources well. Do I agree with it? Not totally. I would have to agree with Sara. I think that she is milking the system and she is a super Mom all at the same time. I really don't agree with giving her daughter everything she wants...it sounds like she may be raising a brat! Although I've never been a single Mom so I'm not sure how that feels. Maybe the lack of a father in her daughters life makes Megan feel that she must provide whatever her daughter want's/needs. This is a tough one for sure!

Sarah - posted on 09/15/2009

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I agree with Amie really, i've worked 'cash in hand' because it was necessary at one time for us.
The bit that worries me most is her daughter getting what she wants, when she wants it. That's not realistic! You need to learn that you have earn what you get......in later life, people aren't just going to hand her what she wants because she throws a tantrum about it.
I think she has her daughters best interests at heart.....but i think maybe she's going about it in the wrong way. :)

Lindsay - posted on 09/15/2009

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She's doing what she has to to give her daughter the best life she can. Of course she may not be taking the best road, but she's doing what she needs to. Evelyn, I so agree with you on the throwing stones. The private schools around here have financial assistant for those who qualify. Getting her daughter into that school is probably the best way to ensure that her daughter has a better life in the future and breaks this cycle of having to do things under the table. I can't say that if I got into a situation that I wouldn't do whatever I needed to to give my kids the best life possible. I'm fortunate to not be in that situation, but I won't judge if I haven't been there.

Evelyn - posted on 09/15/2009

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I don't think you should be so judgmental of someone you call your friend that's for sure. She's a single mom basically doing what she has to do to give her daughter a better life. She's obviously concerned that her childs father is not "up to par" and doesn't want to rely on assistance from him, her child is getting great schooling by whatever means necessary. She's keeping a roof over their heads on her own and providing quite well for her daughter which is NOT easy as a single mom, trust me I know. But we do what we have to do and most of us do it quite well. Is everything she is doing right? Absolutely not..but do you do everything right? I highly doubt that because not one person on this earth is perfect. So before we throw stones..we need to look in the mirror. You don't know that you wouldn't do the EXACT same thing if you were in her shoes and you wanted your child to have the best of everything as we ALL do. Are you sure this is a friend of yours? The way you talk about her abusing the system and refer to her "sob stories" and call her kid a "diva" doesn't sound like you even like her very much.

Sharon - posted on 09/15/2009

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She is milking it crazy good. Its to bad she isn't milking it to improve herself but oh well.



If individuals fall for sob stories - then so be it. Private schools have to have some charity cases on their books, she was lucky her daughter made the grade. I hope the school makes a difference in her life.



I have to say if all my under the table pay went to paying rent to live in a good house/apartment in a decent neighborhood, I would do it and keep getting assistance from the gov't. I dunno about the private school - I'm not sure I've got those kinds of balls.

Isobel - posted on 09/15/2009

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I am a single mother and I often struggle with these moral issues. When I first divorced, I was a full-time hairstylist and my paycheck did not even cover daycare let alone rent and food as well. I don't know about subsidized daycare where you are but it my neighbourhood it is very difficult to get...you must move to "a financially sustainable neighbourhood" read slum, in order to get any help. Finding no other alternative and refusing to live in a ghetto, I have since returned to school. I'm away from my kids 3 hours a day and my student loans cover all expenses. I do get a lot of benefits because I am a single mom, my baby bonus is really high and I only have to pay back 60% of my student loans. Still, this is not exactly the lap of luxury I'm living in.

I don't have too much of a problem with this woman's actions if subsidized daycare is unavailable. If I could've put them in daycare for free I would definitely still be working.

This child getting a great education could be the end of a viscious cycle.

Sara - posted on 09/15/2009

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Would it be fair to say that she's doing a little of both?



She obviously cares for her daughter a great deal, and has found *ahem* creative ways to make things work for them. I believe the correct term here is "hustling". I can totally understand why it makes you angry. I'd love to spend every day all day with my daughter, but I have to work.



I would say that getting paid under the table and not reporting your income is VERY wrong. I think never saying no to your daughter is detrimental for her well being later in life. I think that manipulating people to get things that you want for free is wrong...and you're totally right to feel that it is unfair because IT IS UNFAIR. The reason why people like you and I don't do that kind of stuff is because we have a conscience. Apparently, Megan does not have that inner monologue, or she does and just ignores it. I would say to you however, that there is absolutely nothing you can do about it either. You just gotta hope that Karma will come into play one day and bite this woman in the ass.

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