Sat | Oct 31, 2020

When mothers lie... Jamaican men denied fatherhood

Published:Friday | June 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Representatives of the National Parenting Support Commission (from left) Andre Miller, Veron Patrick, Courtney Steadman and Monique McLune.

While agreeing that some Jamaican men have opted to abandon their children, officials of the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) have taken issue with Jamaican mothers telling their children they have no father even when the father is alive.

"The truth is, women need to stop lying to their children," charged Andre Miller, acting chief executive officer of the NPSC.

"Having met with several clients at the commission, we know for a fact that many fathers have been pushed away by mothers, ex-babymothers and by mothers-in-law, who have stepped in to support the process because of their dislike for the relationship and for this particular man," said Miller.

Parent mentor Veron Patrick said oftentimes mothers tell children that they don't need their father, since they can play both the role of a mother and a father.

"For example, in the garrison communities, most times the fathers are not present and the mothers are the ones there, but they are telling the child that I am your mother and your father in one, and then at the end of the day, the child grows up to hate their father even more," said Patrick, as he argued that a mother can never be a father.

Monique McLune, an intern at the NPSC, knows at first hand that a mother can never take the place of a father. She said that while her mother raised her to the best of her ability, she couldn't fill the void she felt while growing up without her father.

"The things that I expected my father to do, I didn't look to my mother for that," said McLune.

"I don't believe it is right for the mother to tell the child that I am your mother and father in one. While you should explain to the child that her father is absent and you are the one taking on the responsibilities, you should also explain to them the importance of a father figure," added McLune.


Empower your child


Social worker Courtney Steadman believes that while nothing is wrong with helping a child to face reality, care should be taken not to paint a negative picture of a father in a child's mind.

"The child is going to grow up feeling angry, feeling depressed, having low self-esteem and low self-confidence. The child will not feel empowered as he or she should feel. What the mother should tell the child is yes, it would be good if you had your father around. I can never be a father, but I am going to try my best to be the best mother that I can ever be," he said.

Miller finds that Jamaican men are oftentimes portrayed as being deficient and inadequate.

"Fathers have a role to play, and the research is there to support it that when fathers are involved, children perform better academically; when fathers are involved, children don't run afoul of the law; when fathers are involved, children have more stable mental health; when fathers are involved, they function socially better," he said.


Addition of father's particulars


The Registrar General's Department (RGD) continues to encourage parents to ensure their children are fully registered, and a critical aspect of this is the father's name on the child's birth certificate.

Not only does the presence of a father's name complete a child's identity, but it also helps in matters of immigration, settling of estates, among other things.

To complete the Addition of Father's Particulars process, customers can access the form by downloading it from the RGD website, or by collecting a form from any RGD office islandwide.

Both parents are required to complete the form in the presence of a justice of the peace, attorney-at-law, school principal, clerk of the courts, or a notary public if either of the parents is overseas.

The completed forms should be returned to any RGD office along with valid identification for both parents, and the relevant fees.