Paternal Abandonment: A Big Bumboclaat Problem

*Lillian Docasto is a 3rd-year student of the University Of Technology where she studies Sports Science. In her second year, she fell in love with fellow course mate *Alex Matthews and for 14 months, the two were inseparable. They shared everything; their notes from classes, their lunch, a car, a Mac book and ….. a baby. *Lexann was born in the summer before Lil entered her first semester of the third year; approximately 5 months ago, her father, the affectionate, loving other half of Lillian has never seen her. Not only did he break up with Lil’ when she was 6-months pregnant but he made no effort to see his child after she was born. Like many other men in Jamaica, Alex made an active decision, to abandon his child. Though not all Jamaican men can be placed in the “wukliss pupa” category, paternal abandonment is a visible issue in Jamaica, the “wukliss pupa” syndrome is a rising epidemic, it happens too bumboclaat often.

Paternal Abandonment refers to the act of a parent leaving or neglecting his or her paternal role. According to the Planning Institute of Jamaica (2002), approximately 45% of Jamaican households are female-headed; the topic of single mothers is one that is increasingly perturbing and disheartening. Jamaican men are not living up to their responsibilities as men. We need to find ways to put a stop to paternal abandonment as children growing up without their fathers are more likely to develop identity issues and disciplinary problems.

Acting Up and Acting Out

Children live what they learn; I’m sure everyone has heard that line at least once. This speaks to how children tend to mimic behaviour, gestures, and speech of those around them. Many of the things they see or hear tend to stay with the child for a very long time and in most cases- become cemented as a part of them for life. A young man being raised in a fatherless household- if not introduced to positive father figures outside of the immediate home- will find it difficult to fully comprehend the roles and responsibilities that come with being a man as he has no one to teach him. Likewise, young girls who face this issue are more likely to be raised to be rigid in their perception of female roles, they see the female playing both male and female roles as the head of house, care giver, bread winner and disciplinarian. So when establishing a relationship for themselves, the traditional roles of man and wife are often times interchanged causing a whole lot of bumboclaat confusion.

“Wait till you father reach home.”  Even at 22 years old that line sends shivers down my spine. Though Caribbean mothers tend to be very stern with their children, fathers tend to be core disciplinarians. They have a way of establishing and maintaining values and ethics and they help to mold children into displaying socially acceptable behaviour. Children from fatherless households miss out on positive and authoritative male energy and no bumboclaat surprise; they are also the ones who act out the most! Our young men face the risk of getting involved with the wrong crowd, young girls, in an effort to fill some psychological void, get involved with sketchy men, both of them in a desperate cry for help involve themselves in countless misdemeanors. All which may have been avoided if they had a chance to “wait until their father got home.”

ShanaKay Rankine receiving an award at the Press Association Forum held during Journalism Week 2018

Why It Happens…..

As a stranger to such a situation, I continue to find it hard to fathom a good enough reason to leave someone I’ve helped create. But I gathered some members of the “wukliss pupa” committee to provide some reasons as to why a man would decide to neglect his offspring.

  1. The inability to financially provide. “Weh me a do wid pickney and me nave no money?” This is the sentiment of many WPs across the island; they believe that if they won’t be able to provide financially for the child then they do not need to be there.
  2. Fear; some men expressed that they decided to not play a part in their children’s lives because quite frankly, they are afraid they don’t have what it takes to be good fathers. They are afraid they won’t be able to affect their child/children in a positive way or they fear that their presence in the child’s life will do more bad than good.
  3. He wasn’t ready…many men express frustration that in some cases, they made it clear that they were not interested in having children. They may want to complete school first, or they are waiting to achieve the next step in their career, maybe they wanted to mature a bit more; whatever it may have been, they decided that it just wasn’t their time to be someone’s father.

However, a fathers presence offers way more than just financial needs, the time and love given to a child outweighs anything that money may be able to buy, fear is a state of nervousness fit for children and not men, I’m sure Marcus Garvey said something of that nature, you can’t say you are going to fail if you have never tried, also if you’re so adamant that you are not ready to raise a child, THEN TAKE THE NECESSARY STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER!!! Mothers are strong, resilient beautiful creatures, but there is only so much we can do.

Where’s the Pupa?

What are your views on this situation? Let me know in the comments.

Until next bumboclaat time, peace.

*Names have been changed

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