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Family forms in Jamaica



According to Social Anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle, whose research is being used for this issue, there is no dysfunctional family form but rather dysfunctional families in all forms.

The Family is the most important part of a society, with the function of absorbing and dispensing cultural, social and economic resources to the many parts of the populace.

The family is the smallest unit of society, but the first agent of socialization for every child. This is a four part series newsletter produced as a supporting document for stakeholders working with parents. Primary Source: Research done by Social Anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle

The National Family Planning Board (NFPB) seeks to promote strong families within which children are co-parented. Parents and prospective parents must be empowered to make it a priority to ensure every child is co-parented within a family regardless of the family type. These family types include, but are not limited to, couples, single/sole-parenting, sibling, extended and alternative families.

15-19 age group - 66.2% of pregnancies mistimed, 14.6% unwanted,

20-24 age group - 47.4 % of pregnancies mistimed, 8.4% unwanted.

Women in a visiting relationship (36.9% mistimed and 13.6% unwanted pregnancies)

Women with no steady relationship (33.2% mistimed and

Helping clients build and sustain strong families The family is the basic social unit wherein people live together by ties of partnership—including marriage, blood or adoption, thus representing a single household.

The family is expected to invest the material it gets from the society into a child and deliver back to society a stable, useful human product. The health of the family depends on the ecology in which

it is located. Families function According to the functionalist only as well as they are constituttheory, the physical reproductive ed and supported. Family size and sexual function means that and form, combined with geowomen customarily give birth to social factors children within a famican determine ly union. There is reguMothers whether or not a sexual intercourse deprived of sex lar society is stable. between parents or can become others unrelated by uncaring and Some do not blood, which stabilizes depressed. have the capacithe male’s aggression, ty to harness or encourages him to absorb resources to circulate to hunt/work for the wellbeing of their members; others have the the offspring and others; and capacity to absorb resources but makes the mother more nurturthe leaders distribute these to ing. Mothers deprived of sex can only some members and deny become uncaring and depressed – others, or do not distribute to the see the history of female hysteria dependents. and the invention of the vibrator in England.

The Economic Adaptation Logic of Family Forms

23.6% unwanted pregnancies) Source: 2008 RHS

By Social Anthropologist Dr. Herbert Gayle

Recognising the essential roles of fathers in the process and also the lack of attention paid to their importance in the past, the NFPB has chosen, this year, to place special emphasis on the important role of fathers in the development of their children and the family whether or not both parents are in a romantic relationship. The family is the first agent of socialization. It is where children learn aspects of their culture, self-identity and gender roles. Therefore, the objective is to strengthen individuals to build and sustain strong, healthy families for a healthy nation.

Family form is a good indicator for overall economic and emotional stability within the family. There is very

little debate that in most cultures ‘Couple Families’ (the ideal being two biological parents, but also including usually about one-tenth of those of stepfather or stepmother) are the most stable. Today many persons have a graduation of relationships as an single mothers (25% Trinidad, 18% option in almost all Western countries. Not everyone courts and then marries. Many begin with visiting relations Jamaica). and if these last for a prolonged period they co-habit, getting married for religious purposes or as a symbol of a higher level of commitment at a later date or skipping the process completely. Many young persons have children during visiting relations. However, many are too economically unstable and immature to raise a child and are therefore advised by their parents to stay in the home with the new born. This changes the couple form to an extended. This is called a vertical extended family form. If crisis befalls the parents or if there is conflict, young mothers may move laterally to a sibling or cousin to form a horizontal extended family. This process is ‘natural’ unless religious/military/extreme exclusion force is applied – Eastern practice.

National Family Planning Board

If the extended family cannot or refuses to assist the mother; or if she is part of the new wave of new middle

This is a publication of the National Family Planning Board (NFPB) the agency of Government mandated to promote, prepare and carry out sustainable family planning services.

class women who prefer to ‘do it alone’; or if the young couple had co-habited but one migrates, dies, goes to

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sole-parent (usually mother) household is formed. Note that sole parents have the most financial problems (50%

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The sole-parent father household is

prison (usually the male); or for some reason the young parents decide to discontinue the relationship, a of the poorest quintile in most countries; have the poorest health of both mother and children; and require the most welfare from the state, OECD {Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development}) 2010).

There are usually signs of worse crisis or of the new gendered independence wave that a child should not ‘tie down’ a mother if it does not do same to a


father. They also emerge in the Caribbean in cases where the mother is better trained and has a better prospect of migrating to find a job. Single father


families are very transient. A very small proportion of them remain in this state for over 5 years. In such cases the fathers do a laudable job of raising their children. Many fathers frankly do a very bad job alone and the extended family has to step in to rescue the child. Aunts and grandmothers are the chief rescuers of children from single fathers and mothers. If and when this happens the new family form is called an alternative, meaning there are no biological parents in the household. Sibling and youth parents are common in Jamaica. Jamaican Family—Not unique but with some extremes as seen in the table below. (OECD 2007, 2009; Gayle, 2012, 2012)














   




Fathers have four established roles:

Two researchers, Nick Stinnett and Jack DeFrain from the University of Nebraska, studied the characteristics of strong families. They surveyed over 3,000 families. The participants were from cities, rural areas, and ranged from being very poor to very rich. Both single parent and two-parent families were surveyed as well as families of different races and ethnicities. When they analysed their results, the researchers found that strong families shared six characteristics:

Protection Provision Nurturing Being a role model

These roles are often divided into:

 Primary:




Protection Provision Secondary: Nurturing Being a Role Model




1. A strong commitment to each other Making relationships a high priority, even if family members are not in the same home.




2. Showing care and appreciation Love, respect and affection towards each other; let each member know on a daily basis you care.




3. Open conversation & good listening Communication is one of the key elements of family relationships - talk to each other about small things and big issues.

Adoption and foster arrangements are also termed alternative families. If the rescuing family is stable then the rescued child can often weather the absence of parents, especially if they keep in contact. However, where the rescuing family was already unstable the child suffers immensely. In the recent decade homosexuals have been struggling to also be accepted as an

alternative family. Research shows that children raised by homosexuals do

Source: Research done by Social Anthropologist, Dr. Herbert Gayle (2012)

4. Time spent together Spend time with members of your family so they don’t feel lonely. Instead they can feel they are an important part of a group; having a sense of belonging. Your kids will love you for spending quality time with them.

not necessarily become same but some develop identity crisis.

5. Spiritual wellness Belief in a greater power and shared beliefs help to create a bond between family members that keeps its members grounded.

The most popular family forms in the Caribbean are:

6. An ability to cope Pulling them together and making them draw strength from each other when problems and crises arise.

     

The family based on common-law union (consensual cohabitation) The nuclear/couples family The family based on a visiting union (extra-residential) The matrifocal/patrifocal family The extended family – horizontally and vertically The East Indian family

Other family types are sibling families due largely to migration of parents, and grandparent-headed and alternative families, consisting of adoptive or foster families.

“If you as parents cut corners, your children will too. If you lie, they will too. If you spend all your money on yourselves and tithe no portion of it for charities, colleges, churches, synagogues, and civic causes, your children won’t either. And if parents snicker at racial and gender jokes, another generation will pass on the poison adults still have not had the courage to snuff out.” Marian Wright Edelman

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Building Strong Families Pt1  
Building Strong Families Pt1  

Helping clients build and sustain strong families