Church celebrates the importance of fathers in the family unit
The tremendous work done by fathers in the lives of their families does not always go unheralded.
The Church of the Holy Trinity Mothers' Union Christian Care for Families is ensuring that fathers are seen for their role as a central part of the family unit.
Branch president of this church auxiliary woman's group, L. Judith Spencer Jarrett, told Family and Religion that among the group's core objectives are encouraging parents to bring up their children in the faith and life of the church and to promote conditions in society favourable to stable families and the protection of children.
These objectives were exemplified when the organisation staged an awards ceremony to honour a number of fathers in Old Harbour, St Catherine recently.
Thirty-eight-year-old Ricardo Palmer, father of three, a police officer attached to the Old Harbour Bay Police Station, and Richard Francis, a barber, also a father of three, were among the awardees.
Palmer said he was happy that the struggles he is experiencing to raise his three children - daughters Jhannelle, nine, and three-year-old Hissia; as well as his 13-year-old son, Recardo Jr -
in a dignified way are not going unnoticed.
"I try my very best to raise these children to the best of my ability (by) facing up to the challenges that present themselves to a young, single father," Palmer stated, adding that he has been the only parent taking care of the children, starting with Ricardo Jr 13 years ago.
"I have to cook and wash their clothes and ensure that they go to school. I got use to this routine over time, the most serious challenge I encounter is not being able to fix the girls hair," the father of three pointed out.
According to Palmer, who is presently engaged and will be getting married soon to a nurse who is not the mother of his children, he recognised that the children's mothers are very important in their lives, so he ensures that they spend their holidays with their mothers.
Without attempting to conceal his emotions, Palmer, with teary eyes, spoke of the undying love he has for his children.
"I love my children more than anything else in this world. I have to be vigilant and guard them against abuses. I am very stern because I don't want them to get off on the wrong footing. They are my best friends," Palmer said.
He pointed out that he does not see himself as just having a biological claim to his children, but also the sole provider of their necessities and the one to steer them along a path of unity.
"They must grow up appreciating that they are one. I want them to see the need to be there for each other," the father of three added.
He sees himself as not only a father, but a dad, "Anyone can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad ," acknowledged Palmer.
relationship with his father
Thirty-nine-year-old Richard Francis, who has been raising his two girls - 16 year-old Karycha and 14-year-old Karyina - and son Richard, while sharing some of the same sentiments, disclosed that he had a bad experience with his biological father while growing up, a situation he claimed was a game changer for him.
"I hated my father because of how he treated us while my brothers and sisters were growing up. He did not play an active role in our lives, so I made a pledge that I will be a better father to my children," Francis told Family and Religion.
According to him, he plays a very active role in the lives of his children since his wife, the mother of his son, migrated.
"I teach them to be responsible and pass on to them the importance of good work attitudes, instilling in them that nothing in life comes without hard work," Francis stated, adding that he doesn't allow them to take things for granted.
"I teach all of them to take responsibility for what comes out of their mouths," Francis further added.
He pointed to the difficulties he encountered after his wife migrated and decided to terminate the marriage.
"At first, it was difficult, but I soon accepted my role as the sole parent and continued to be a firm disciplinarian. My role was well defined. I am bent on preparing my children so they can lift their heads high," he said.
Francis said because of the treatment he received from his own father, he did not want a son, but God gave him one who resembles his father, so he knew right away that he had to play the father role he did not experience growing up.
He said he often finds himself extending his role as a father beyond his household.
According to him, "If I am only father to my children alone, I am no father."