By Jerry Roker
For Bahamas Press
Absconding fathers – whether they are domiciled in the home or not, have precipitated severe dislocations in family structures in our Bahamas; but there are also many instances of neglectful, abusive mothers when fathers have to assume the dual parental roles.
There are also extended relatives who play pivotal roles in bringing up children – elder siblings and grandmothers, for instance.
Parenting a child is not just donating a sperm, or carrying it in one’s womb and then giving birth – even animals do that. Parenting a child means being there every step of the way – guiding them, teaching them practical survival skills, having their backs in times of travails. But most importantly, parenting a child means inculcating into them a moral compass whereby they could become good human beings and exemplary citizens above all.
Mothers see their adult children always with the heart, no matter how old they grow; and those caring hearts never cease to bleed when they see their children in pain, or being taken advantage of.
A good parent’s reward is experiencing the joy of a child maturing into adulthood whereby they become responsible members of the general society, with all that this implies.
Bringing up a child and nurturing them to adulthood is at all times a difficult undertaking for parents; but moreso for single parents and extended family members who, because of circumstances, are constrained to bring up a child not their own.
For those parents supportive of each other, with extended family also being part of the nurturing synergies for a child, in most instances that child grows up to fend adequately for him/herself – emotionally, psychologically, financially, in all the ways that matter.
In single parent households, however; or even in households where the father absconds from his responsibilities and, to boot, is abusive and a bully who demands what he has not earned, thereby robbing his children of the basic necessities of life, the children may grow up with a lot of emotional and psychological baggage.
Many times mothers are forced to work long hours to provide the basic necessities for her family, only to be bullied out of her earnings by profligate, degenerate fathers, leaving the children in dire want and deprivation.
The anomaly is that if a mother, for whatever reason, remains in the abusive situation, the children grow up to resent the mother; mainly for being absent at crucial times in their lives, or for allowing herself and them to be subjected to the abusive and impoverished situation imposed by a non-constructive, non-productive husband and father.
The children in turn oftentimes adopt the father’s aggressive, disrespectful attitude toward their mother, which distorts their moral compass. This disrespect and/or neglect of mothers who gave their all, albeit it may not have been sufficient to stave off hunger and loneliness at all times, often lends to situations where there is no mutual support system when the children become adults. And it may even translate into consequential disrespect from grandchildren.
In a society where churches are so prevalent, I often wonder how we got here. And that is not to say that I expect the church to do the job of parents. No not at all. But to the extent that we have all fallen short, it is reasonable to expect the church to be the moral compass of our nation, consistently and relentlessly teaching us a set of core values that can sustain us and place us on a path to decency, respect, community and love.
How did we get here? Can be find our way back home?