Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Divided Loyalty added to mounting Pressure

Markdown:Yow Garnett wha’agwaan? I attach a document from wan a I idren from yard. Him out fe try publish it inna de local papers an did a seek my feedback. If yu think uda publish it mek I know. As a father, I waan de I read de document an jus give I your thoughts even if yu feel seh it offensive. However de I feel afta reading de document jus mek it flow naturally like how de water gush out naturally from de rock a Niagara or Dunn’s River. Well, set out below is the lament of a father, Michael Flemmings from all the way in Porus Manchester but this could have easily been any father from any where. The same runs true if you are in North America, Canada in particular. The system creates desolation and calls it peace and strips from us the dignity of fatherhood.It has become quite popular recently for individuals to be coming out speaking on behalf of children. I can’t help but wonder how serious these individuals are? Where are the groups or organisations that are willing to ensure that our Family Courts act in the children’s best interest and not continue the age old tradition of appeasing mothers? Are the courts able to recognise and reward “good fathers” or is there just a one size dead-beat dad approach to all fathers? Is the Family Court able to give due considerations to all matters coming before it or are cases just pushed through in an attempt to speedily get through all matters set for that day? How can a father be appreciated and accepted as “the parent” by the school, church, doctor, and wider community and then goes to court and be treated like a dead-beat dad? Why should a father spend everyday of his son’s life teaching him how to appreciate life and what it has to offer, read, play cricket or kick a ball, being totally hands-on in an effort to empower his child, while the mother is otherwise occupied and then a judge is able to award custody to the said mother without any consideration for the best interest of the child? One would have thought that the parent who is actively involved in the child’s life and doing everything possible to help that child to maximise all his potentials would be given the ultimate consideration. Especially in a society like ours where single parenting and particularly the lack of involved fathers represents a more pressing threat to our nation’s progress than is currently being recognised. Students’ achievement is in most cases due more to the conditions of students’ lives outside of school than it is to what takes place at school. Our progress as a nation is a function of our progress in education. If the court decides that the mother should get custody of a male child, should the mother not now be expected to be the lead parent in empowering that child while the father plays a supporting role? If that supporting role is limited to just child support or payments pertaining to the child’s material welfare, aren’t we in danger of creating more Lee Boyd Malvos? What kind of subliminal images will be sent to that male child?Respect begets respect. Should a person appearing in court before a judge expect that judge to be respectful and courteous? Judges are allowed to speak to persons appearing in court in a manner that the said judge would find unacceptable had he or she been the subject of such tone or comment. When interim orders are made in relation to maintenance, what guides the judge in making such declarations? Should these declarations have any bearing on the incomes of the parties involved or is it that the judges can make any order he or she feels at that time? Are those orders always constitutional?Are the mandates of the Family Court and the roles of judges clearly and simply defined in order to be understood by the common man? If the more responsible parent is to be awarded custody, what criteria or methods are used to determine who the better parent is? Are decisions taken by the Family Courts in harmony with the recommendations and policies of other government agencies (Ministry of Education etc.)?Why does it seem mothers should have custody, but it is the role of fathers to define and shape their sons life and ultimately determine the man he should become? Are fathers leaving the family court feeling any better for the experience or is it that fathers left feeling that they should walk away from their responsibility? With individuals declaring themselves women’s and children’s rights advocate where can good fathers turn for support? Where are the men’s rights advocates? Is it that once a boy becomes a man, he no longer has rights to be advocated? Which groups or organization are prepared to do a study on how children (boys especially) having had their future decided by a Family Court judge fared emotionally, psychologically etc? Does this by chance have any bearing on the graduation rate from tertiary institutions being over 74% female?Look at those who were placed in the custody of the father as opposed to those being placed with the mother. Widespread family breakdown, families not forming in the first place and unplanned parenthood, have isolated pathogens that are an integral part of today’s urban landscape.The high crime rates, and the atmosphere of violence in areas where young men are raised without fathers and oftentimes incompetent mothers, have promoted cultural values based on violence, predatory sex and instant gratification. Coupled with the influence of the drug barons, the dancehall sub-culture, and Gaza/Gully phenomenon, those values are the dominant male adolescent values of many urban and sub-urban communities.Is the Family Court oblivious to what is happening in the wider society? If we are serious about solving the crime problem in the medium to long term, we could start here by saving our at risk youths. Are the judges in the Family Court who are so powerful and mighty any better parents than those they seek to judge? Are judges in the Family Court on a mission to humiliate parents who appear before them (especially fathers)? How can a judge be quoting from and making decisions based on a report done on both parents with one or both parents not having access to the said report unless represented by an Attorney? Solid parenting is not just about the material welfare of the child. It must be measured in terms of the soundness of the parent’s judgment, the sum of what that parent knows and the skill with which he/she can use those factors to the child’s advantage in nurturing and providing mental stimulation to enable that child to grow to understand and appreciate his/her purpose in life, the needs of his/her fellow citizens, and to be of service to them. Proper parenting enables children to become better citizens, improves social capital, and public morality. Having recently had the uncomfortable experience of a prostate examination and while I would encourage all men to do so I however feel an unwillingness in suggesting that men go boldly to our courts to have their fate as fathers determined by a Family Court judge. I think it is time that the media (within strict guidelines) be allowed to report on cases before the Family Court and the future of those children having had family court intervention being documented in an effort to ensure that due considerations are given to ensuring that decisions taken are only in the best interests of our children. Our esteemed judges would have no objections to such scrutiny.

About the author

Kharl Daley