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Dear Daddy

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Are Jamaican men just sperm donors or do they play an important role in the lives of their children and children who are not even theirs? Jamaica Survey of Living Conditions 2017 shows that 40.5% of Jamaican households which are headed by females have no father or father figure present. But I can assure you, there are still fathers, fathers-to-be and stepfathers who understand the role that a father or father figure plays in a child’s life. Here are five dynamics of fatherhood and five men who shared their experiences with their fathers and/or father figures.

 

Men model their dad’s behaviours

A woman often chooses her partners based on the relationship she has with her dad or she chooses a partner with similar characteristics as her dad. A toddler who is learning the way of the world imitates the behavior of people around him/her. In the same way, a man watches his dad and learns how to survive and how to (or how not to) interact with people around him. Sometimes men may choose careers similar to that of their fathers or father figures.

My dad played a significant role in me choosing the career path that I chose. He was in the Construction Industry and when he realised that I liked Construction, he encouraged me to do greater things within the Industry than he did. Other father figures also guided me into it. So, I can say they influenced me to start doing the job that I do today and they also impacted my emotional stability. And, through them, I learnt how to be a man.

                                                                                                     — Ourane, Quantity Surveyor, Has no children

 

Some men even have the same traits as their father.

My father played a significant role in my life. How significant was his role? Financial and mentoring in his own special way. He was the softer one; my mother was the tougher one. I always remember that dad was the lighter side of life. He was very nurturing and I do recognise that I carry quite a number of his traits. In a positive way, I sometimes find the lighter side of things purely because of my father.

                                                                                                      — Marlon, Manager, Has two children

Dads build confidence

Every parent parents differently. But I believe that dads are the least parenty of all. At least sometimes. I have seen dads playfully throw their child up in the sky while mommy may be on the sidelines shouting “No, don’t throw her (or him) so high!” In the same breath, dad can protect and nurture that child and teach that child confidence.  He also teaches that child that it’s ok to take risks. Needless to say, he teaches his cub to take ‘em risks while being mindful of the consequences of their actions. This is why boys may seek validation from their fathers. The more he gets approval from daddy, the more confident a boy may become.

As a man, as a son, I realise that my father’s approval is important. I want my father to be proud of me. As an individual, if you don’t get that kind of validation from your own father or father figure you will go out into the world and seek that kind of validation from other persons in society that may not be good role models.

                                           — James, Project Manager, Has no children*

 

Dad’s Absence

A dad’s presence will have a great impact on a child’s development and so will his absence. While a father’s involvement during each stage of a child’s life is said to lead to better emotional, academic and behavioural outcomes for children.  A father’s absence may hinder a child’s development in more ways than one.  Research shows that a father’s absence is often linked to behavioural problems, poor performance in school and even substance abuse. On a lighter note, a dad’s absence is sometimes what leads men to actually want to be there for their child/children.

My father did not play a significant role in my life and I did not have a father figure whilst growing up. However, I don’t believe it has impacted the way I parent. And I have never blamed my father for anything or had any ill-will towards him. But him not being a part of my life has made me want to be there for my own son so that he knows that he can count on me.

                                                                                      — Peter, Master Control Operator, Has one child*

 

Stepfathers are important too

Playing the role of a stepfather is like venturing into the unknown territories of tension and high emotions. These relationships often start with the child/children resenting the stepdad. Even though it is not an easy task, some men bridge this gap and form lasting bonds with their spouse’s child/children. Stepdads are bonus dads for children whose dads are a part of their lives. Think about it, having one great dad works well but imagine having two extremely great father figures in your life. A stepparent’s role is not to replace the biological parent but that person’s role is to help to reinforce rules which have already been established by the biological parents.

I believe I play the role that any father should play, even though I am not their biological father. My stepdaughter is living abroad and if she needs something she knows that she can count on me. Case in point, she is going to start college in September and if she feels the need to ask me for any help, I will be there for her. I also encourage and discipline my stepchildren as their own fathers would. So I believe stepfathers play an important role too.

                                                                        — Jason, Senior Maintenance Officer,  Stepfather of three

 

Dear Daddy,

We see the sacrifices that you are making and we salute you. We love you. We appreciate you and your child needs you.

 

* Name and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individual

 

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Nakeita

This was an amazing read. I really love the fact that it wasn’t a repeat of most things I read about fathers; infact it was a great blend of perspectives to fatherhood. Keep up the good work.