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No way! Psychologists say mothers cannot father children

Published:Saturday | May 9, 2015 | 5:00 AMGleaner Writer
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EVER SINCE Edith Clarke's book was released in 1957 titled My Mother Who Fathered Me, that expression has been used by many to sum up mothers who have been going it alone raising their children.

While they have done an excellent job, many of them surviving the struggles and seeing their children through to successful careers, there is that space which was never totally filled - the one reserved for fathers. At a parenting forum held earlier this year in May Pen, Clarendon, a male student stood and gave credit to his mother for raising him and his siblings on her own. He praised her for standing by them, ensuring their needs were taken care of. To him, there is no one like her, but he expressed the longing he felt of not having a father.

"I wanted a father to teach me to fix my bicycle, teach me how to treat a lady, or just being there for me," he told the gathering.

Tomorrow will be celebrated as Mother's Day, where mothers will be celebrated and gifted with the niceties. There will also be messages on social media with persons lauding their mothers who also play the role of father.

But, while psychologist Dr Leachim Semaj praised single mothers for the great jobs they have been doing, he made it clear that a father's role can never be tackled by the mother.

"We have been using that expression for a long time, but even in the book from which the expression is coined, there is no such thing," he said, referring to the fact that it wasn't about a mother being a father to a child.

While giving kudos to mothers who have stood by their children and doing an "incredible job", Semaj said mothers cannot father and there will always be a part missing - "always a place to be filled in the child's life".

Associate professor and school psychologist at Northern Caribbean University, Dr Orlean Brown-Earle, concurred: "Mothers cannot be the end all for their children, especially their sons. Male role models are critical for young men to model positive masculine behaviour."

becoming a man

Semaj said that with the fathers being absent, a boy has total and continued access to his mother and will never know "how to become a man" when he has to make that transition.

Without a father's presence in a boy's life, he will tend to take more chances, assert himself more, and get into trouble, according to Semaj.

Where a girl is concerned, she will be missing out on the first male influence in her life to tell her how beautiful she is, show her what a real man should be, and give her someone to look up to.

But all is not lost as Semaj encourages single mothers to enlist trusted male presence in the children's lives.

"Draw on grandfather, an uncle or someone close to you. Many times, (the) stepfather business creates problems, unless they understand their role," he pointed out.

For Brown-Earle, without a male being factored in, mothers still manage to discipline the children, doing their best by taking "a tougher stance on disciplinary issues to make up for what they think a man would do".

familyandreligion@gleanerjm.com