Thu | Nov 23, 2017

Ronald Thwaites | Fatherless and feckless

Published:Monday | July 24, 2017 | 12:00 AM

The lady and her son had travelled from a far country to seek help from the 'Public Eye' at JBC as to why the boy's papers to go live with his US citizen father were so delayed.

In their presence, I called the father, linked the call with the immigration counsellor who broke the devastating news that the required DNA test showed that the only man the boy had ever called 'Daddy' was not his real father.

At once, there followed the shocking unravelling of the trust, the sinews of faithfulness, affection and aspiration which had, up to then, made life meaningful for that family.

The estimates from the researchers at the university tell us that the number of 'jackets' are upwards of one in every five of us.

We often run a big joke about this. We snigger at and make up funny lyrics about our historic promiscuity, forgetting the domestic tragedies it causes and ignoring the irreparable damage such adult behaviour causes to children. Time now for us to renew a serious discourse about the texture of man-woman relationships in Jamaica.

 

STRONG FAMILY LIFE

 

The truth is there can be no sustained prosperity or progress for all, not just for a few, unless this nation cultures strong family life.

For beyond the 'jackets', factor the over 30 per cent of us who grow without a close connection with our fathers or at least, a caring father-figure.

God bless the 'mothers who father' us, most always at the expense of their own self-fulfilment. Can you imagine the revulsion of having to sleep with a man, not because of love, but just to get a money to feed an earlier man's pickney!

Right now, despite the heroic efforts of some, our elemental social relationships are dysfunctional and causing too much unhappiness.

This discourse is not based on religious conviction only or necessarily. It is rooted in the science of practical social organisation. Having a responsible father in the life of a young woman gives her the knowledge and confidence to relate to other men. A young man learns mostly from his father how a male ought to behave towards a woman.

So last Tuesday, in a Parliament which normally does not like to deal with fundamental social issues, our Government was prodded to commit to an important first step to assure the right of all persons to know as surely as is possible, the identities of their natural parents whose genetic imprints they bear and which will influence their entire future.

The promise is that before the end of this year, it will be required that a child's birth certificate will bear the name and particulars of the man who either acknowledges or, by scientific test, is adjudged to be his or her parent.

 

STABLE UNIONS

 

Side by side with this measure, the task will be to encourage stable unions, to incentivise couples to stay together to raise children and thus provide one of the indispensable foundations of a successful nation. To support family uplift is how we should spend the make-up two plus billion dollars - and much more - to really move Jamaica forward.

It is indisputable that there is less seepage into criminal conduct by persons who have had a caring two-parent upbringing. Strengthening family life is, therefore, a necessary element of crime-fighting.

Check the shottas, interrogate the youth who are the aggressors and the victims of violent crime, listen to those police who are humane and know the street culture.

You will come away understanding the progression from fatherlessness to fecklessness.

- Ronald Thwaites is Central Kingston member of parliament and opposition spokesperson on education and training. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.