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  • Since Independence, the number of couple families - two people living together in a marriage or common law relationship with a child - has increased from 20 per cent to 42 per cent.
  • Fathers Incorporated would like to see more of this kind of family structure (couple families) in Jamaica.
  • Fathers Incorporated has been working for years on improving families in Jamaica and one of the major thrusts is to break the ‘ATM machine syndrome’.

Since Independence, the number of couple families – two people living together in a marriage or common law relationship with a child – has increased from 20 per cent to 42 per cent.

This was disclosed by Fathers Incorporated Chairman, Dr. Herbert Gayle, who was speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on June 12.

He said Fathers Incorporated would like to see more of this kind of family structure (couple families) in Jamaica and is encouraged by the growth seen in this area since 1962.

Fathers Incorporated has been working for years on improving families in Jamaica and one of the major thrusts is to break the ‘ATM machine syndrome’, in which many fathers are seen as just a source for money.

Dr. Gayle cited  a 2004 study that showed that a father who lived abroad and was sending money home for his child would get scores of nine and 10 out of 10, but one who lived next door and performed all the other roles, except for providing, was getting much lower scores of four out of 10 from both women and children.

He added that according to a 2001 study by the late Dr. Barry Chevannes, a man who loses his job is considered to be “half a man” within six months of unemployment. This, he said, has a devastating effect on the male psyche.

“Men have four roles, which are protecting, providing, nurturing and being role models. You cannot assess them based on one (their ability to provide),” Dr. Gayle emphasized.

The Chairman said that fatherhood is a new institution and that Jamaicans need to recognise that, and the strides that have been made in that area.

“Looking at the data…we are seeing massive changes in fathering in Jamaica. I have to remind people that when we started out in 1838 we were at zero fathers. People think fatherhood is an old institution. It is a new institution in Jamaica,” he said.

He explained that during the slavery era, fathers had no opportunities to really be fathers to their children as slaves were all owned, and in many instances families were not kept together.

Citing information from the Colonial Office in England, Dr. Gayle said in 1962, only one of five children had a father that was resident in the home. That accounted for 18 to 20 per cent of all children in Jamaica.

“We are encouraged by the growth. 1991 data shows that the figure had risen to 37 per cent and we are now at 42 per cent couple families,” he said.

“If we have achieved so much, there is a reason to celebrate and it should not be painted with negatives. We should all be pushing for partnerships and restructuring of the family with the National Family Planning Board, Fathers Inc. and faith based groups,” Dr. Gayle said.