Fathers, step up to the plate

EDITOR, The Tribune.

THE traditional Bahamian father is an almost extinct relic of a long ago forgotten time. Way back in the day, especially the 1950’s and 1960’s ‘stable’ nuclear families, with a father and mother, were the norm. In many cases, the father and mother were not, in fact, married in the legal sense but shared their lives and that of the children with what was commonly known and societally accepted as ‘common law marriage’. Mind you, from a legal point, there is no such phenomenon.

What is remarkable about ‘common law’ marriages is that a cohesive; well disciplined and relatively ‘happy’ family life was enjoyed by all. The mother did not necessarily work outside of the home and kept busy rearing the off spring/s from the union and taking care of the home, usually a small two or three bedroom traditional clap board or concrete structure. The yards were kept clean and well appointed. The father, whether married or not to the mother was the bread winner; disciplinarian and, of course, the leader within the family.

Today, most of that has changed and countless households are set up and administered by the female of the species. Either due to separation; abandonment or death, the traditional father is no longer, seemingly, relevant. In fact, many so called liberated Bahamian single mothers crow that they really only need a male to procreate or to fleece, when and where necessary. Children have been and can still be reared by unattached females but the consequences are threatening the very fabric of our society.

Available statistics here in The Bahamas has long demonstrated that almost 85 percent of the male population up at The Bahamas Correctional Centre come from single parent homes where there is a stark absence of a father. They would have been reared, successfully in many cases, by their single mothers. Statistics have also shown that children, whether in or out of wedlock, seem to have a better societal upbringing where the traditional nuclear family exists.

Females, God bless them all, are designed to nature children as opposed to the real male father who instills discipline and demonstrates responsibility and upward mobility. In other words, it takes joint team work by fathers and mothers, in most cases, to successfully raise a child/children, especially with boys. A mother’s love is almost unquantifiable , as it should be, but the discipline; love and presence of the father is, in my considered opinion, is critical.

As a legally trained individual; a father and now, a grandfather. I am able to speak, first hand, about the necessity of having a caring; loving and disciplined father figure in my personal life growing up back in the 60s. My parents were not married but cohabited within a ‘common law’ arrangement. My father, the late Reverend Ortland H Bodie Sr. (a/k/a Bode) came from Mangrove Cay, Andros, in his early 20s. He started out as a carpenter at what was then known as The Oakes Field Airport.

He quickly was elevated and promoted to managerial level. Later he became an informal ‘banker’ for many male Bahamians who migrated to the USA, especially the State of Florida and Georgia. He was unable to further his education other than what he would have received at The All Age School in Mangrove Cay, Andros. Nevertheless, by the time he was in his late 20’s he was a self made millionaire with a diversified business empire.

Those were the days when a Black Bahamian male, unless he was in one of the professions, could aspire to very little materially. My father fortuitously, met my late mother, Annie Hepburn-Deveaux, who was a humble straw vendor and executive housekeeper for a white Bahamian family on the Eastern Road. She was ‘wealthy’ long before she and my father hooked up. They never married but they provided my siblings and I would a stable and vibrant family life.

We lacked for nothing and, if I may say so, the four of us out of wedlock children turned out well, without bragging.

I was my father’s favourite child and he groomed me into a successful business path beginning at aged 16 years of age. By the time I was 18 years old I had amassed a small personal savings account in excess of B$25,000 on fixed deposit at FINCO. I later went off to law school in the UK with the full financial support and encouragement of my father. The rest, of course, is history.

My Dad was always right there for me. I was constantly in his company and accompanied him on most of his overseas trips, especially, to the USA and parts of the Caribbean, such as Jamaica and Haiti. He and my mother actually took us to church as opposed to simply sending us. My mother was a life long member of Mount Carey Baptist Church on Fox Hill Road while my Dad was, initially, Catholic, but later transitioned over to the AME Church on Blue Hill Road which was founded by the late Reverend Alpheus Rolle.

Our spiritual life was solid and has contributed to the man; father and grandfather that I am today. The actual presence of a father, within or out of wedlock, is critical/ The stark absence of the same has and is wrecking havoc within the ranks of our boys and youths. Not ‘knowing’ and interacting with one’s father is one of the causations of our jail being filled to the maximum of Bahamian males searching for a father figure for guidance; discipline; material support and, of course, love.

There are serious consequences to this absence and I now call on all fathers to step up to the plate. The responsibility to correct what has been going on for so long, is that of the father. No government or no church is able to fill this gap. To God then, Who is Our Father, in all things, be the glory.



June 16 2024.


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