Quantity over Quality?
"I'm a separated father of two children. I'm facing a situation where I have new responsibilities as a single parent, and I want the right to be able to change my employment, in such a way to be a better parent. My fear is that because of the income level that I currently earn, if I were to become a math teacher, I would not be able to make support payments and consequently be a deadbeat dad, and I could go to jail," says Bill, who has joint custody of his children. "Time with them is even more precious than it has been in the past, and that's why teaching is the perfect opportunity. It would give a lot more free time for me with my children. I'd be closer to them and better able to meet their needs as a single parent."
Bill laments that he is not treated the same as a married father. "I am held hostage to my current level of income. It's like being an indentured servant," he says. "I will battle as long as it takes to be able to be the type of parent that I want to be."
Dr. Phil is joined by Bill, Mel Feit, the director of the National Center for Men, and Lis Wiehl, legal analyst and author of The 51 Percent Minority: How Women Still are Not Equal and What You Can Do about It.
"What's the dilemma here?" Dr. Phil asks Mel. "It seems like we all have to make choices."
"Let's be clear: if Bill were not getting divorced, he could take a job working fewer hours, making less money, being able to spend more time with his family. I think most people would say, â€˜Way to go, Bill,'" Mel says. "It's because he's getting divorced. The child support system now is so punitive it forbids him from ever taking a job with a lower income. And here's the thing, the system is so incredibly sexist, that it assumes that if a man wants to work fewer hours, he's got to have a sinister motive. The system cannot even comprehend that a man might want to spend more time with his children, or that his children would benefit from more time with their father."