For the fathers...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Sunday June 16 will be Father's Day. As is customary, I don't expect any fanfare, unlike Mother's Day. I don't think there will be many advertisements, shopping, concerts, special treats or great curiosity leading up to and on Father's Day.

The common argument I hear is that most of our fathers are “deadbeat” and “wutliss”. I can relate to the delinquent father and single mother phenomenon, because I was raised by a single mother.

My father's absence from my life for the first 30 years and my constant re-reading of Edith Clarke's seminal work My Mother Who Fathered Me has convinced me, beyond the possibility of being persuaded otherwise, that mothers should allow the fathers to have a relationship with their children, even if they are not contributing financially.

Now, let me be clear, I am not the least suggesting or supporting fathers not financially providing for their children. The Jamaican law (Maintenance Act) is clear. Fathers have a legal duty to financially provide for children, just like mothers do. However, it cannot be right that some mothers only allow the child to see the father if he has an envelope with cash or a cheque. This practice is wrong in law, principle, common sense, and good conscience. Too many mothers subscribe to this view.

Raising a child or children is never easy for two parents, let alone one. Regrettably, some complex issues have resulted in the mothers becoming the “one” parent. However, we should not be too quick to judge and condemn our fathers. Try to understand the sociology behind the delinquency.

It is a fact that gender, through the process of socialisation, plays a critical role in the way men and women express their parental rights and responsibilities. Dr Herbert Gayle has some very sobering research findings on “deadbeat” and “wutliss” fathers, most of whom confessed to wanting a relationship with their children, but cannot navigate the way they are demonised by the child's mother.

I am not giving excuses as explanations for any “wutliss” or “deadbeat” father, all I am trying to say is that we need to fix the problem of delinquent fathers, and if we are going to succeed we have to be objective, unbiased, fair, and guided by research.

There are too many fatherless homes in Jamaica and too many men are on the “corna”, in prison, or at the rum bar. However, there are many good men who are extraordinary fathers. I see them every day taking their children to school, clinic, church, and reaching out to others on the streets.

We don't have to be a biological father to be a father to a child. Many of us take other people's children and accept and treat them as our own. Most often than not we are never regarded or recognised, but we press on.

I have unqualified respect and inestimable appreciation for all mothers and women. I also believe that men will never be as good as women in caring and nurturing children, especially our boys, which is critical for their psychological development. If we fail to accept this reality the “marginalisation of men” and the “feminisation of the male temperament” will reach crisis proportion and soon after there will be no “Mr”, only “Miss” and “Mrs”.

As a father myself, and a Jamaican, I think we are better than this. We need to do much better as men for the sake of our children, especially our boys, our homes, our families, our churches, our country and our society. Let us read the science and arise from our slumber. If our society is to be great again we have to reproduce great men!

Andre Wellington

College of Agriculture, Science & Education

Portland

andrewellington344@yahoo.com


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