Minister in the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development Charles Griffith this week stirred up an age-old but relevant debate about the involvement of fathers in the lives of their children.
As Parliament examined legislation to abolish the mandatory death sentence for murder, the St John MP took the debate beyond the obvious issues to one of the root causes of why so many of our young men are finding themselves before the law courts charged with murder and other serious offences.
Griffith held no quarter as he chided the country’s males for failing to take up their responsibilities as fathers.
“I really want to send a message to the men in Barbados that if you enjoy a couple moments of ecstasy, you must man up to what is happening after that because if you don’t do that, we are going to constantly see a flow of youngsters who … end up before the court.
“The men in Barbados must man up to their responsibility of fatherhood,” he said.
His strong statement was not a case of male-bashing but quite frankly a candid assessment of the current state of play.
More and more dads appear to be bailing on their responsibilities of being a parent.
In days of old, some men proudly carried the dubious title of Village Ram.
Some suggests that fatherless homes are a problem that have occurred over several generations and it’s a problem that will no doubt take several generations to fix.
But fix we must, for we dear not leave things as they are. We are already paying a high price.
It cannot be denied that the breakdown of parenting has contributed to the kind of angry, violent and deviant behaviour that exists in our society today. Too many households are being held together by single mothers who can’t do the jobs of fathers, whether they want to admit it or not.
The end result is too many broken homes, stressed mothers, absent fathers and hurting children.
Experts have told us and the evidence is glaring that when children lack a father figure, they go out looking for one.
Boys gravitate towards gangs and girls to sugar daddies. Both actions lead to trouble.
Children need their fathers to help them discover their own identities.
The first word babies usually utter are ‘da da’ first. It therefore stands to reason that children need their father to guide and provide them with s stable environment to successfully manoeuvre through every stage of development
Therefore, fathers must be encouraged to step up to the plate.
There’s more to being a father than engaging in the act of procreation. Men should equally share the tasks of bandaging bruised knees, rising bikes, doing homework, making sandwiches and attending Parent-Teachers meetings.
Of course, not in all cases are men being allowed to man up.
Some women behave as if they have a divine right to block children from their fathers, even in instances where the father is meeting his financial obligations and the court mandates that the man be allowed reasonable access to his child.
Women sometimes need to step back, drop the emotional baggage and consider the value of having a father involved, especially if they keep their children away from the father.
If we all agree that it is critical for a child to have both parents involved, then it should be important to find a way to coexist, particularly if there is no danger to the child.
Both men and women need to spend less time thinking about a past broken relations and what’s good for each other and spend more time thinking about what’s good for the children.
Good parents are men and women who are prepared to invest time with their children to ensure their optimal emotional, psychological, social and spiritual development.”
All males have the potential to be responsible fathers and society must therefore reject the notion of deadbeat dads and encourage men to rise to the noble duty of being more than sperm donors.