Fathers coping with COVID-19
Below is a summary of a presentation which is to be delivered today at a pre-Father’s Day event, titled ‘Daddy Matters’, organised by Fathers Incorporated in collaboration with the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the West Indies, Mona.
The social structure of Jamaican society has resulted in fathers from various strata of the country facing some similarities in dealing with COVID-19 while having specific problems.
The male in his role as provider is generally away from the household for at least 10 hours per day, heading to or from or at a place of work. The social construction of masculinity and fatherhood in Jamaican society posits the role of father as provider, with little or no socialisation of which prepares him for the role as nurturer. All fathers were forced into this role when the pandemic started in March 2020.
Human relationships are at best difficult. Sudden shifts in domestic roles further complicate and add an emotional dimension to male/female relationships. In Jamaican society, the male socialisation for the role of father had an emotional lacuna as this was seen as being too effeminate.
Some narrative descriptions obtained from some middle-class fathers during the pandemic, went like this, “I learned the value of silence”.
“I understand what mothers go through on a daily basis in taking care of the children.”
“I was forced to learn patience in dealing with emotional issues as there was no place to run to, no game of dominoes or football field during curfew.”
Work needed to be done by organisations such as Fathers Inc includes: Providing the social space for fathers to discuss their issues. Provide special mentoring programme for fathers during COVID-19.
Helping fathers to provide educational opportunities for their children to engage in online learning.
Asking personnel for the Ministry of Health and Wellness to address various organised fora to educate fathers and the household about the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to be vaccinated to protect the family.
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