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Roles of Fathers in the Family



This information was taken from research done for the Research-driven radio programme hosted by Dr. Herbert Gayle called ‘The Complete Picture’ aired Tuesdays to Fridays from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. weekly on Newstalk 93FM.

For 21 years Fathers Incorporated has been promoting fathers as nurturers and role models – and not just as providers and protectors, which are the traditional roles. In 1993, Brown, Chevannes and Anderson found that 50% of fathers participate in helping to nurture their children but did not feel proud to do so as the society did not place any real value on such an act for fathers. A man was expected to provide and protect.

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

In 2004, Gayle et al found out that

Fathers in Families for the Future, Jamaica Men play a greater role in the development or underdevelopment of the society more than many Jamaican men may realize. When a man believes his manhood is proven by the number of children he can produce, the results can be cataclysmic because this can potentially result in a society full of fatherless daughters and sons. It is therefore critical for boys, adolescent males and adult men to understand their roles in family planning and why it is extremely important for them to seek family planning services. They must realize and understand that manhood is far more than a sexual activity

Jamaicans value the fathers’ role However, irrespective of as provider immensely to the place and time, the conseextent that fathers who lived quences of excluding men abroad and send money home from reproductive health and regularly to their family received parent nurturing are catascores of 9/10, compared to strophic, noted Dr. Gayle. broke fathers who nurtured their In order for a 50% of fathers children – with father to Nurture participate in the latter receivhas to be active helping to nurture he ing average in the lives of his their children but children, and be scores of 4/10. did not feel proud informed about Fathers have 4 parenting since it to do so. established roles; is mostly social or protection, provision, nurturing learnt. and being a role model. Therefore, parenting workshops These roles are often divided should be designed to into: primary - protection and accommodate males also to provision and secondary strengthen their capacity to be nurturing and being a role good parents to the developing model. child.

18% of live births are among teen mothers 15—19 years

Adolescent boys and girls are among the most at risk for HIV infection due to prevailing culture of multiple sex partnerships and inconsistent condom use

25% of adolescents aged 15 -19 years are overweight or

Father the Nurturer By Dr. Herbert Gayle

obese. Source: UNICEF Jamaica

that results in a woman becoming pregnant. The ability to rear children who can become stalwart nation builders and exemplary men and women, is the true measure of manhood.

Many development policies and family support systems are driven by the theory of monotrophy that suggest that largely financial; rather than he being

It is our job as health care providers to empower them, create a welcoming environment and male friendly health service space for men to access sexual and reproductive health service.

nurturing) has a positive impact on a child’s development. Research has shown too that a father’s value is

Father and mother I love you! This is what family should mean to every Jamaican child. However, this is not always the case. Some children never get the opportunity to be loved and cared for by both parents.

the immense value of mothers. However, it is prudent to think that both parents are different and critical to a

there is a chemical attachment between mother and infant that cannot be compared with any other bond, and

an equal partner with rights and re-

hence a child is more likely to suffer from various behaviour disorders if the mother is absent. Various research

sponsibilities related to birth, and

have even shown that a bad father (violent, abusive) has a greater negative impact than a good father (supportive,

nurture of children.

greatest when he compliments the mother. In summary, some research findings seem to suggest that a good father is only complimentary to a mother; and a bad father’s place is outside the home. Note that there is a clear implication that a father may be conceived as having a minimal role in the family. There is no question regarding

Participant in the NFPB sponsored Fitness for Fathers Road Race

child’s development. It is important to note also that a father’s nurture is different from a mother’s nurture – a mother cannot father and a father cannot mother. The message is clear, especially amongst the poor who are preoccupied with survival: a man is good for

National Family Planning Board

providing – and protecting in settings of extreme violence. Yet according to research done by Janet Brown and

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.

such behaviour as masculine. Some men even hide and nurture: change diapers, bathe the baby, go to PTA, wash,

Contact Us Today: 5 Sylvan Avenue, Kingston 5

volvement in reproductive health matters as they are not clear if it is right for a man to be an equal partner in

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others, most fathers nurture and want to nurture. The interesting reality is that they do not feel our culture values cook, iron for their children, and check the homework daily. Some men also reluctantly speak about their insuch matters. Recent discussions on abortions reinforce the position that in our culture men’s fathering role is

There is a general acceptance that fathers need to nurture more and that this role needs to be treated more seriously. The group that seems to stress this importance the most is that of rural middle class women.

Women deciding that it is more prudent to do without a man even when children are involved. Many women, especially the educated, some my personal friends, complain that the situation has got so bad for men that many suffer from low self-esteem and behavioural problems due to the absence of their fathers when they were children. Many women express that they are scared of Jamaican men – many of whom have become a danger to


themselves and their families. This decision, however self-preserving, makes the problem of father-absence circular. Male Bleaching. One of our most recent findings at Mona, done by Angella Harris, a Masters student, is that inner city youth (mostly those without father supervision) are bleaching to attract older employed females. Whilst this might be seen as a joke to many, it is an indicator of the level of desperation of male youth in this male-hostile environment. It is a sign of males giving up. We are certain that young men are less likely to show signs of giving up when father is active in their lives. Boys with good fathers are very likely to see their fathers as heroes and this means it is likely that they will become good fathers too. Remember only boys whose fathers are Taylor

absent or have failed, copy their mothers.




found that at age six, the children

QUALITY FATHER-CHILD TIME, CRITICAL TO DEVELOPMENT “Father-child interaction has been shown to promote a child's physical well-being, perceptual abilities, and competency for relatedness with others, even at a young age”, reported Krampe, E.M. and P.D. Fairweather in

in families of low incomes had more isolated lives in that they were significantly less likely than other children to:

the Journal of Family Issues 14.4 (December 1993): 572-591. Other research literature provides a few important 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.

Here are a few consequences of the diminishing men’s parenting roles in Jamaica, according to Dr. Gayle: 20% male intake at the UWI. It is a fact that when father is absent boys are more likely to be pulled from school to hustle to support the family. This is not merely an economic issue. Boys become ‘child fathers’ in their fathers’ absence and some even feel compelled to sacrifice their education to ensure

• Live in a good neighborhood.

points about father-child bonding:

• Play with friends away from Fathers should spend considerable time with their children playing and having fun. As discussed earlier,


fathers' play has a unique role in the child's development, teaching, for example, how to explore the world

• Be involved in sport and music.

and how to keep aggressive impulses in check.

• Be involved in. any formal

Fathers should maintain the active, physical, and playful style of fathering as their children age. Active pur-

their sisters attend school. This is a painful mark of manhood in this fractured environment. The evidence is clear that even broke fathers try to keep their

suits like tossing the football, playing basketball, hiking, or going to the library may prove more valuable

sons in school but they must be present to do so.

than spending time in passive activities such as watching television— This also supports the child's emotional well-being, social development, and physical fitness.

activities. • Go on holiday. Source: © Zahid Shahab Ahmed, 2005

Since 2000 Jamaica has had the highest average murder rate in the world (51 per 100,000, followed by El Salvador with 47). My thesis on Trans-Atlantic Homicide (2007) provides some answers in profiling shottas or killers:

Fathers should engage in productive activities with their children such as household chores, washing dishes after meals, or cleaning up the back-

They are most likely between ages 15 and 24,

yard. Research consistently shows that such shared activities promote a sense of responsibility and significance in children that is, in turn, linked to

They did not complete secondary school, and

greater self-esteem, academic and occupational achievement, psychological well-being, and civic engagement later in life.

They have no father or constant male supervision. Do any research on murderers and you will find the same results. The evidence is clear that fathers are important. There is therefore a danger in overemphasizing monotrophy.

Fathers should spend time fostering intellectual growth in their children. Some studies suggest that fathers' involvement in educational activities from reading to their children to meeting with their child's teacher – may be more important for their children's academic success than, at times, their mother's involvement (Nord, C., & West, J. (2001).

High levels of anger towards mothers. We are finding many young men who hate their mothers. In a project recently conducted by Children First Agency some young men had to be taught to refer to their female parent as ‘Mother’. Almost all the hustling juvenile males we have studied (Gayle 2004, 1997 included) describe their mothers as ‘parasites’ or ‘burden’ or express some sort of extreme anger towards them. Clearly young males are not happy to be the family’s sacrifice. Increasing male suicide and murder of family. Dr. Gayle reports that four year ago he decided to check on four cases of men who had killed their families and then themselves “I was so depressed by my finding that I refused to examine more cases.” They had the same ‘script’: male shut out of family - made to think he is not a man because his earning power was affected by some incident - woman moves to find another man with earning power in order to survive – disadvantaged man explodes. The practice of young men sacrificing themselves to the point of frustration and self-destruction is something we at UWI Mona have been watching for many years, Dr. Gayle reported.

“No one is ever quite ready; everyone is always caught off guard. Parenthood chooses you. And you open your eyes, look at what you've got, say "Oh, my gosh," and recognize that of all the balls there ever were, this is the one you should not drop. It's not a question of choice.” Marisa de los Santos, Love Walked In

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Building Strong Families Pt2  

Fathers in Families for the Future, Jamaica