My father died a week ago. He wasn’t always a part of my life and when we reasoned, a lot of times he would say, ‘Listen I wasn’t the father I was supposed to be at your age,’ but at least I made him proud in showing the difference a father can make for his children.
I was angry at him growing up, especially when I would be sent by my mother to visit him for something – and then I would be coming back without anything.
But when I used to visit him as an adult, we would sit and reason about anything or everything. This Father’s Day would be one of those days when we talk about life and what would have happened if things were different.
What makes a good father
If I could speak to him now, I would like to tell him that the anger has passed, because I understand the life of a young father. I would like to tell him that regardless of what happened, I am grateful for him and my mother – because without them I could not be there for my kids.
A lot of times we men get scared because we think if we don’t have the money or the resources then we can’t be a father. But just being there for the child and showing love, that’s what makes you a father.
People will understand that there are times you don’t have it, but just being there can make a great day for your kids. Even if there is just one day out of the week where you can say “this is for the kids”, then make that change and stand up for your child.
Building trust with our children
During this period of COVID-19, it’s been rough with money; and it is just now that things look a little bit brighter. You have to explain to the children that this is the little we have, but let’s work with it. It is rough but it brings a bond. I got to understand my girls a little bit more, and they got to understand me a little bit more.
My girls will come to me to talk, even my oldest daughter Deidra who is now 18. I always remember this one time when she was five years old and she was putting on a blouse but was struggling with it and started crying.
I explained that life is like this, putting on this blouse, and when that happens you stop and start over. I told her that in life anytime she has a problem to not be afraid of talking to me, even if it is female problems.
Recognise Jamaican Super Dads
I know I can be a tough as a dad, but I don’t like corporal punishment. You must be able to talk to your child; but with violence they won’t want to hear you.
We need to change the mindset of people as a whole, to show that fathers can play that positive role. Mother’s Day tends to get more hype and of course mothers have a special role, but we need to hold up fatherhood to give it more respect.
Whatever mistakes we made as kids, whatever mistakes we made as fathers, we can learn from that. We can make a change for our children.
What is UNICEF doing?
Dwight is an active member of a parenting support group in Trench Town. This is one of three operated in downtown Kingston communities supported by Fight for Peace with funding from UNICEF, part of our work to support better parenting. If you have a positive story about fatherhood, then we would love for you to share it to encourage others ahead of Father’s Day on Sunday, June 21. Post your story to social media using the hashtag #SuperDads and tag @unicefjamaica to be featured.