Father's Day and real men

Michael Burke

Thursday, June 14, 2012

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FATHER'S Day is Sunday, June 17. It is a day when here in Jamaica, many remember with sadness that their fathers are absent. Absent fathers of the children do not automatically translate into absent husbands as far as the mothers of the children are concerned. There is a tendency among many Jamaican women to have many partners, which causes problems for the children, particularly the daughters. In some cases, the mother's partner is a fairly good substitute father. In other instances, it is a disaster.

Father's Day 2012 comes at a time when there is a stringent budget with all sorts of new taxes because of certain world realities. Does this mean that there will be more instances where women will literally sell their daughters to sexual predators in exchange for money?

But the tool we should use in combating our financial problems, especially in light of this year's budget, should be in the area of collective intelligence. The whole nation needs to be sat down and taught what has happened in the US over the last 11 years and how it has affected Jamaica.

While many so-called stepfathers demand sexual favours in return for financial security, too many women are prepared to live with this sort of arrangement and some openly encourage it. Many Jamaican women do not want the presence of the children's father at home. Nor do they want to live as husband and wife with the fathers of their children. But this is not always the fault of the men as many women want only a sperm donor.

This in turn causes all sorts of problems for the children, resulting in dysfunctional behaviour at school. And the odd behaviour many times continues into the wider society when they become adults. While it is true that we have inherited many bad habits from slavery, at 50 years of political independence, it is time that we take serious steps to address the problem.

Perhaps this is where the various Christian denominations should come in. It is a pity that there are still some branches of the church that cannot put aside their differences and come together to deal with these pressing problems. The fact is that whatever the differences in doctrine, just about all Christian churches speak to the family unit in the same way and frown on sexual immorality similarly.

There was a time when most women were oppressed here in the western world. Women have made great strides, particularly in the last century. The problem is that in liberating our women things have gone overboard and in many instances the reverse is true today. It is the men who are unfairly treated.

For this reason, one person has described Father's Day as "Laughing Stock Day". He is bitter at the way fathers are treated by the Jamaican society. He is bitter at the way all men are treated in Jamaica. He is bitter because of the way in which the laws governing relationships and parenting seem to put the men at a disadvantage. He is bitter at the way boys brought up by mothers are being feminised.

Who wins when our men act like women? Neither the men, the women nor the children win when men and women swap gender roles. And how does celebrating Father's Day improve the situation? The problem is compounded by influential people who want differences between male and female to be defined only by genitalia, and in some instances not even that.

Can anything be done? We cannot do much about the internet and its negative messages, especially where sexuality, corruption and immorality are concerned. But we can teach our youngsters to make the right choices, which in any case is an integral part of parenting that is properly the responsibility of both parents.

But do we have a sufficient number of good parents in Jamaica to guide the children? I do not think so, and this is why I always argue that the schools should do their best to provide alternative parenting. I have argued that the schools should be the alternative families for our youngsters.

Since Africans throughout their continent have very strong family bonds, we should probably seek some help from them in this regard. Can we give African men and women contracts to work here in whatever area while guiding our children, especially by example? Maybe it is something we should think about and look at whether such an idea is feasible. More important, we need the help of African fathers to teach our boys to be real men.

And maybe we can even work with the Africans who are here in Jamaica working for a contracted period. Many of them are Christians and have quietly expressed surprise at the way some things are done here. Maybe the thing to do is to give them a voice in the media.

And by using the media it can be announced where the locations are for further wisdom to be gained outside of the media. There are also people working in Jamaica from all parts of the world who come from ancient traditions. They could also be of help.





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