Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Daddy on duty! - Fathers standing up to their responsibilities

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
Conrad Smith and his 11-year-old daughter, Shenikgua.

With scores of Jamaican men acting as sperm donors who play no role in the raising of their children, others have struggled to ensure that they are not seen as 'deadbeat dads'.

For these men, the role of father is one they take seriously, and they are very involved in every aspect of the lives of their children.

Recently, our news team caught up with three fathers who had taken their children for treatment at the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

Rohan Daker, who took his three-year-old son to the hospital, said although he is now married he was a single father for several years, and it prepared him for moments when he has to take up the responsibility of tending to his son.

"The singleness of fatherhood was of such that I enjoyed every moment of that," said 47-year-old Daker.

"So by the time I got married, when I am to do some single things, mi no have a problem 'cause me done a practise that how much years now. My first boy is 20-odd years old, so I have years of experience under my belt," added Daker.

Peter Murray, who was out with his stepson, revealed that the child's mother was at home pregnant with his second child, so he spared her the hassle of having to visit the hospital.

"Some man don't deal with things the real way how it fi do, but you just have to be a real man and do what you have to do," said Murray.

"I get a lot of joy when I spend time with them. I don't know about the rest a man them but to me a the best thing when them around."


Changed his life


Murray, who has a daughter of his own, said becoming a father changed his life significantly.

"It changed me in a lot a ways. Nuff things weh mi used to do mi find say mi stop do. And the same way me deal with mi daughter is the same way me deal with him (stepson), because fi him father a miss out pan wah him fi do."

Jamaican children are said to have about a 50/50 chance of being born within a cohabiting union or within a visiting relationship between parents.

The prospects of them being born to parents married to each other is even more unlikely, with only 14 per cent so fortunate.

Faced with these numbers, Conrad Smith is encouraging other Jamaican men to, where possible, make the relationships work between themselves and the mothers of their children.

"Make the sacrifice for the kids. No matter what you guys have as parents, try and put that aside, as long as it can be reconciled," said Smith.

"Put in the extra work and try and make it work 'cause they (children) need that motherly/fatherly love around them. Once mother gone east and father gone west, it's going to affect them."

Smith, who took his 11-year-old daughter to the hospital for a review following a minor surgery she did the previous week, said his break-up with the child's mother has had a negative impact on her.

"Well, for me it's a great problem it is posing because she was born and used to that household with her mother and father, and it has a drastic effect on her brain and it makes her very slow in school.

"She's 11 years old but brain-wise and physically in school she at the stage of a five-year-old. For me, every day that's on my mind, and I have to live with how the separation affect her big time."

Smith said he was together with his child's mother, who had two other children living with them, for nine years before she conceived for him, but after his only child came into the picture everything went downhill, partly due to his inability to do more financially.

But in light of the possible negative impact on the children involved, Smith is encouraging fathers to try their best to make it work with the mothers of their children.