Mon | Aug 21, 2017

A Jacket cut to fit

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 2:00 AMJody-Anne Lawrence and Cathy Risden

When it comes to men parenting children that are not their own, sociologist Orville Taylor believes this might have little, if any, impact at all on our society. This behaviour, he added, is not new to the Jamaican society and may continue once there is unfaithfulness in a relationship or persons failing to take the necessary precautions to avoid pregnancy.

After being separated from her common-law husband for a while, Ms Anna* was now pregnant with her fifth child. She then shared the news with Lester* - the man that got her pregnant - whose response was: 'A two fada yuh want fi yuh baby?' Ms Anna was distraught and had no other option but to go back to Karl, who gladly accepted Ahon as his own. Twenty-seven years later, Ms Anna, on her sickbed with a strong fear of dying, confessed to her son that the man who raised him was not his father.

MISCONCEPTION

Taylor also mentioned that there is a misconception about the family unit in Jamaica.

"The nuclear family will never be the predominant family unit in Jamaica, but that does not mean the family unit is weak," he said. He went further to elaborate that the extended family unit in Jamaica is not only strong but structured, as there are many situations where the child lives a seamless life.

The infidelity that leads to the 'jacket' situation may only cause direct impact on the child. This is highly dependent on the age at which he/she finds out.

An adult, more than likely, will be better able to accept and adjust to the fact that the man that has been fathering them is not their biological father, than would a teenager. The teenager might feel a sense of abandonment and may find the revelation a little harder to deal with.

Ahon told Outlook he felt lost and confused and his whole world turned upside down. Ms Anna did not know her son would have taken the news so hard, nor did she expect a complete breakdown in the relationship they once enjoyed. But she is hopeful their bond will be mended and one day her son will understand she did what was best for him at the time, and she needs his forgiveness before it's too late.

While there is evidence that people replicate what they have gone through, for example, the abused becoming abusers, Taylor mentioned there is no proof that this is necessarily the case for children fathered by another man.

Five years later, and Ahon shared his heart and mind is in a better place, but can't seem to get to the place where it once was with his mother.

*Names changed to protect identity.

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