|Being real fathers|
|Thursday, 24 June 2010 13:53|
Last Sunday, Father’s Day, three men huddled in a North Miami, exuding self pity, crying in their drinks, regretting the day was rushing by and neither of them had received as much as a phone call from any of their children. But, the three men had something else in common; they all had fathered children, but had long ago abandoned their duties as fathers to the mothers of those children. Nonetheless, they expressed heartache at not hearing from the children they have neglected.
The unfortunate experience of these three fathers may have been repeated all over this country and the Caribbean, as communities in these countries are so often characterized by absentee fathers. No wonder that the commemoration of Father’s Day pales in comparison with the hype and excitement that Mother’s Day brings. This unbalanced comparison is indicative of the continuous, growing matriarchal pattern of the society.
Years ago a sociologist, Edith Clarke, wrote a very relevant book entitled My Mother Who Fathered Me that highlighted the significance of the role of mothers in the Jamaican society, many of whom were father and mother to their children. Sadly, that situation has not abated, and if anything has worsened, as an increasing number of young men go about irresponsibly impregnating young women and walking away – adding to the already rapidly expanding breed of “sperm donors.”
The importance of the role mothers play in the matriarchal society was reflected recently in Jamaica, where a 12-year-old boy committed suicide because his mother planned to leave him and his siblings to seek work in the U.S. to improve the living standards of her family. The mother had arranged for her son to stay with his father in her absence, but the boy, despairing departure of his mother, chose suicide over going to his father. No child should have to dread being with his father to the extent of taking his life.
Innumerable words and pages have been written about the irresponsibility of fathers towards their children. Courts in this and other countries are overcrowded with cases of mothers filing lawsuits against absentee, irresponsible fathers for child support. Yet, despite some harsh penalties meted out to these “deadbeat” fathers, the practice of fathers shirking their duties continues.
But children need more than financial support from their fathers. A child, especially the male child, needs the emotional bonding that a father should be giving.
Several sociologists have determined that a primary reason for the preponderance of crimes in developing countries, and in the inner cities of most developed countries is the absence of a father figure in the home. It is often difficult for mothers, most of whom work away from home, to be able to provide the required emotional support plus enforce discipline over her children. The male child, in particular, as he grows older, in the absence of that father figure, seeks to bond with his peers, spend more time on the street, graduating into gangs, and too often serious anti-social activities. It is much easier for the child to succumb to peer-pressure when there is no father figure around.
In this technologically advanced age, there is no reason for a man to not even try to make regular contact with his child/children by phone, e-mail, or text. Often the father is separated from the child because of a split in the relationship with the child’s mother, but this is no excuse for the father to ignore the child.
A group of young men and women interviewed on a Cable-TV program said that they would have loved to be able to at least speak with their father once in a while, and get his opinion and advice on certain aspects of their life. One young lady spoke of the pain she feels of having a father and not ever hearing from him, although they live in the same town.
Fathers who may have been hurt because of the broken relationship with their ex-wife or ex-lover must remain interested in the welfare of the child/children who resulted from that relationship. The child should never be a target for spite because of the broken relationship. Neither should mothers try to spite the father by not allowing him to have access to his children, either by direct visitation or phone calls.
In this real world, men, especially young men will continue to father children. That’s a fact of life. However, what must decrease is the blatant, growing irresponsibility of fathers who simply walk away once they learn their partner is pregnant. This is a sociological problem that has to be constantly addressed. There would be real progress if fathers would seriously stop and consider that it takes two to responsibly raise a child, just as it takes two to create that child. If a man creates a child he should take the responsibility of being father.