We are Dads, not Santa Claus! - Trench Town men beg for a chance to be real fathers
They admit that some men have shirked their responsibilities as fathers, but according to members of one all-male inner-city group, this is primarily because some women keep the men at bay once they are unable to provide financially for their children.
The men who make up the Trench Town-based Fathers United for Change lamented the pressure being placed on men to give money to their babymothers, even when all they are able to give their children is their presence.
"Most of the females them nowadays, it's about the presents. If them can't see you a give the presents, you a nobody, you are not no father, you are wutliss, you are deadbeat, you are a sperm donor and all the names that go with it," said Trevor Edmondson.
He noted that the script usually changes once you are able to give money.
"You are the best father, even when you are not doing homework, you don't come around the house no time, you just push the money and you are the best father inna the world," charged Edmondson.
"A them (mothers) a mash up parenting," he said.
President of the group, Curtis Robinson, noted that with every two out of three men in the community unable to find jobs, because of stigmatisation among other things, the reality is that fathers are oftentimes not in a position to invest anything but their love and time in their children.
"Even with my child, sometimes mi a go, but mi no have no money and I just go and visit my child and give her a hug. It makes a big difference and I see the reception that she gives me when I give her that hug. I can actually feel the love coming out of her, just like how she feel the love coming from me as her father," he said.
GIVE BABYFATHERS A CHANCE
"Them need to give the babyfather a chance to be a father. If they really want the man to play a role in the child's life, them need to give the man a chance, so stay away from the negatives and think about the positive, like the good things that him do," he admonished.
The men were frank in expressing their love for their children, and although tears are generally considered a sign of weakness in some sections of the society, 25-year-old Kenroy Edwards momentarily forgot about the group of men around him as he spoke about the impact his one-year-old son has made on his life.
"As much as I cannot afford to give my son something, I always go around him and as him see me, I see that he is happy," he told The Sunday Gleaner.
Edwards, who is an orphan, was emotional as he explained what getting a hug from his son means to him.
"Mi just feel this warm feeling inside ... mi just start cry. Somebody would a say 'what him a bawl for, him a idiot? But mi say 'yow, a true you don't know what mi a feel. Mi just hold my son and take a side (corner) and start to cry. I feel that warmness inside, I feel like I can do anything. I just really want to get a job ...," shared the youngster who has not been able to secure full-time employment despite being certified in electrical installation by HEART Trust/NTA.
The men do not underscore the importance of having a job to provide for their children, but they are just as aware of the social problems that stem from being an absentee.
"Remember it not hiding ennuh; 85 per cent of the youths them that drop out of school are from fatherless homes; 75 per cent of the rapist them are from fatherless homes; and here is another important one, 78 per cent of the females them that have children and you hear that nobody else no want to own it, they are from fatherless homes," said Edmondson, who was reminded by another member that most of the men in prisons are from fatherless homes as well.
Robinson said despite the challenges, the group continues to encourage men to do all they can for their children so that they can be productive citizens of society.
"So you not working, it won't take you nothing fi go walk go look for your son and spend some time with your daughter," he said.