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Garth Rattray | Mothers, Moms, Mommies, Mammas And Maddahs

Published:Monday | May 13, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Happy Mother's Day

Women are the [de facto] backbone of our nation. For whatever reason – the residual negative acculturation of slavery, where families were just chattel and males were only studs used to increase the livestock; the emergence of an itinerant male workforce that sought livelihood in diverse places, even thousands of miles from home, while the women were left to raise the children; the negative socialisation of males accustomed to seeing older men abdicating their responsibilities towards their progeny and leaving the women (mothers, grandmothers and sometimes aunts) to raise them – women have had to take a firm grip of the reigns of the family.

Matriarchy is the norm and is so common that many of our leaders only have their mothers to thank for their upbringing, drive and successes in life. Jamaica has benefited greatly from the nurturing, disciplined and inspirational home environments provided solely by mothers.

Sadly, however, in spite of their best efforts, mothers can’t be everything to their children. The lack of a resident and/or influential male figure remains the number one reason for crime. Bum fathers have become the bane of our nation. A lot more initiative and effort must be put into reversing that trend if we are to realise a significant reduction in criminal activities. The ubiquitous, powerful and extremely influential social media, electronic media and print media should be recruited to convince mothers that they must not go it alone … they must use our existing laws to force errant men to stand up to their responsibilities.


Most of the patients that I interview either did not grow up with a father at home, have no relationship with their father, have terrible relationships with their father, do not know the whereabouts of their father, or don’t care to know anything about their father. And most of the single mothers raising children alone feel that it’s infra dig for them to seek to force men to support their children, are terrified of the court system, are turned off by the court system, or can’t be bothered with the court system because they believe that it’s not worth the time or effort and would therefore bring about a Pyrrhic victory.

And so, the majority of our mothers are going it alone where raising the nation’s children is concerned. This will certainly perpetuate the problems associated with fatherless families. The mindset of our men needs radical adjustment if we are to improve our lot going forward.

Mothers are special and clearly unique in several ways. Carrying a pregnancy for about 40 weeks is no small feat. The physiological, anatomical and psychological changes are significant, and sometimes dangerous. It takes the patience, perseverance and strength of a woman to bear such a burden. If men were to experience giving birth, the world would have ended with whomever Cain and Abel are supposed to represent. Most males are imbued with physical strength superior to most women, but the ability to tolerate pain and suffering is certainly not our forte.

The vast majority of women make excellent mothers. But, perhaps because of poor socialisation or frustration/depression/anger, or a history of being abused or ignorance, some women treat their children horribly. I’ve seen women haul and pull their protesting children instead of calmly taking them along or taking the time to explain her need for them to cooperate with her. I’ve heard woman threaten to punch, box (slap in the face), kick, choke and even cut their misbehaving children. An angry response and disciplining children are two very different things, and children know the difference.

Whether your children call you ‘Mother’, ‘Mom’, ‘Mommy’, ‘Mamma’ or ‘Maddah’, you are number one in their lives and the nation is grateful for you.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and