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Focus on fathers Dads urged to rise, lead and be wise for National Parent Month

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Focus on fathers Dads urged to rise, lead and be wise for National Parent Month

BY CANDIECE KNIGHT
Observer staff reporter
knightc@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

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MINISTER of Education, Youth and Information Fayval Williams is calling on fathers to be more active in the lives of their children.

Speaking at a church service to launch National Parent Month on Sunday, she argued that children whose fathers are present in their lives are less likely to fail academically, drop out of school, and become criminals.

“Children with actively involved fathers are 43 per cent more likely to earn A’s in school, and 33 per cent less likely to repeat a grade than those without active fathers,” said Williams, while pointing to research.

“Eighty-five per cent of youth imprisoned have an absent father. Fatherless children are more likely to offend and go to jail as adults…Children who grow up with absent fathers can suffer lasting damage. They are more likely to drop out of school and end up in poverty,” added Williams.

Parent month this year is being observed under the theme ‘Fathers Rise, Lead and be Wise’, and Williams said this emphasis on men was deliberate.

“This is an intentional focus on the men in our families, who are often on the sideline of national conversations about good parenting,” she noted. “We know that there are many historical, cultural and social reasons why fathers are not as involved in their child’s lives as they could be. We know that there are many who are very much involved but do not get the recognition that they should. Our aim is to help change the focus from one of blame and criticism to one of positive affirmation.”

Williams charged that it is important for men to be present in their children’s lives, even if they don’t live with them.

“Whether you live in the same household with your child and his/her mother…speak positively to and about their mother in front of your children,” the minister urged.

“Be respectful…and I’m calling on mothers to do the same about the fathers. God knows the two of you have plenty disagreements, but if you can’t say anything positive, say nothing,” said Williams.

In supporting the call for men to play a more active role in the lives of their children, CEO of National Parenting Support Commission Kaysia Kerr urged Jamaican men to take their place as leaders in the home.

“I believe that men need to take their place in leading and transforming the lives of households across Jamaica,” said Kerr. “There is data that says the driver of crime is ineffective parenting. We have to change that. We understand that a major part of that is going to be fathers rising and leading, and using wisdom as they lead their children.”

Kerr pointed out that the National Parenting Support Commission has done surveys which have revealed that many Jamaican fathers are interested in education and training to become better parents, but they do not want to be trained in the same spaces as women.

“So as we celebrate parents’ month we have to celebrate those parents who continue to do well, and to say to the fathers who know they have not been doing so well that, ‘We hear you, we understand, and we want to extend our hand to you to join us so that we can do better for our nation’s children,’” she said.

The church service, which was held at Escarpment Road New Testament Church of God, was the first in a series of activities geared at celebrating and educating parents throughout November. The commission will be targeting more than 500 schools for this year’s National Parent Month activities.

Parents will be engaged during the month through virtual parenting education sessions and three regional workshops in partnership with members of the parenting sector, the commission said.

There will also be a virtual National Parent Village and the celebrations will culminate with the National Parent Month Awards on November 27.

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