A commentary on the need for black men to live up to their responsibility as parents.
Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Black Men and Parenthood

The family laws of Jamaica/Canada/USA give consent to the notion that both parents have equal responsibilities and rights to raise their children. Both parents have an equal right to the child’s care, education, religion, moral and social upbringing. This is true whether the parents are legally separated or not, married or in a common law relationship. When parents do not live together they must contribute whole-heartedly to their parental rights and responsibilities. Quite often within the Black Community infidelity and domestic violence leads to the break up of families. Most often the man is the culprit thus leaving the woman heartbroken. In a rage of vengeance she applies to the court for Sole Custody of the Children, Child Support and Restraining Order. These restrictions bear heavily upon what serves the best interest of the children as the alleged perpetrator is force to leave the home upon receiving the order.(By no means is this article in support of abuse, nor is it suggesting that all Black Men are adulterous). However, this is in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention states that parental access cannot be restricted without due process. Additionally, we must consider the effects of an unwarranted restraining order where Black Men are concerned. Often times, it will amount to racial profiling, a practice usually employed to discriminate against Blacks in the so-called, “Justice System,” here in Canada and the USA. Given the already detrimental racial tension between the Police Force and the Black Community this only serves to strengthen the stigma already attached to Black Men as always in trouble with the law or the media cliché as being known to police.

Child rearing requires very strong moral values, parental skills and the participation of both parents. The amount of money and time spent on vindictive legal battles could have been much better spent on the children’s social and educational development. Do women really think about the best interest of the children or just themselves? Most men give up this legal battle because they do not have the money to challenge it and in the process are denied access to their children. Parents must realize or at least consider that the same Judge that smiles and grants their wishes of sole custody of the children in the absence of the fathers, may have said to him/herself, “there goes a potential criminal, a school drop out, another drug addict/dealer, a teenage pregnancy or hoodlum.” (This is not to say single mothers can’t do a very good job of raising their children). But common sense dictates along with statistical proof that the aforementioned is more often the case rather than the exception when mothers are the lone parent within the Black Family Unit.

It is wrong for women to use anger, jealously and personal vendettas to seek sole custody of the children or to deny access to fathers. The payment of Child Support must never be the only responsibility of fathers nor is it a charitable contribution towards children growth. Fathers must be allowed to share in the mental, educational, spiritual and physical development and growth of their children. Fathers have a right to spend time with their children, the right to be given information about their children’s health, education and welfare and the right to partake in decisions significantly affecting the children and as such are knowledgeable on these matters as mothers do.

The women to whom my appeal is designed are those that use the judicial system just because their love relationship has failed and that the legal system enables them to bring about this unjust upon fathers. The effect of such one-sided system is decidedly negative. One does not realize it until you speak with a man in such predicament. The author, in conversation with one woman guilty of the above mentioned, asked her,” Why do you seek sole custody of your child and also wanting to deny the father any access to his child?” She replied, “Why should I allow my child to go and stay with him and his woman?” This seems to be the mentality of some women that do these things.

Children need the love and support of both parents in order to develop into well-adjusted contributing members of Society. Children should never be used as pawns between feuding parents because it is the children that lose in the long run. Fathers hold as much importance in the lives of their children as mothers do. The happiness and joy that mothers think they have attained in the judgment of the courts are only a myth…likened to a river speeding down a plain and upon its arrival will only slow and murk. In time the follies of such selfish agenda will only come back to haunt these women, but more so the affected children. Parents, (mothers and fathers) from the Black Diaspora need to do all they can, putting their selfish needs aside, to give our children a positive opportunity at becoming well-rounded adults without running the risk of continuing the cycle of irresponsible and misguided parenting. We should take note that although parental access to children is a right, being a parent is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.

About the author

Kharl Daley