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THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Your honour


Rhonda Blackman

THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Your honour

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All fathers have certain rights and responsibilities with respect to their children, but to some it appears that a court order must detail their rights and responsibilities.
Kudos to those fathers who know what it means to be a father and take their responsibilities seriously.
A court order is not necessary to obtain the rights as a father – they already have them by just being a father. It is a measure put in place to act in the best interest of children and to ensure their well-being is maintained.
However, the reality is such that some fathers, unless forced by the order of the court, do not see the necessity to maintain their children and even with this in place some still do not honour it.
It is baffling why a judge must decide on the amount of finance and maintenance that should be allocated to a child. In addition, it is unclear why some fathers are blinded to the importance of maintaining their children.
Furthermore, it is incomprehensible why attorneys must spend long hours with parties to get them to understand and settle what should be the norm for their children.
Until and unless a court rules otherwise, the rights as a father and as a parent include and are not limited to the right to:
Participate in the parenting of their children. Fathers should be a positive influence and a part of the daily lives of children, interacting and spending time with them, giving love and encouragement.
But in addition to having rights, fathers also have certain duties, obligations and responsibilities. As fathers and parents, they have the responsibility to:
Support their children vis a vis providing them with the basic necessities of life – food, shelter and clothing. Children cannot function to their maximum potential if they are underfed and malnourished. I opined that a judge or an attorney should not have to tell fathers of the responsibility to support their child nor determine the monetary value of this support, for there can be no cost attached to the care and support of children. Again the court order decides.
The well-being of children is of utmost importance, for a healthy child is a happy child and in times of illness children need both parents. Each child needs to see a mother and father at his/her side to draw support and feel safe.
It is unfortunate that there are some situations that might make fathers feel that they are not to live up to their responsibilities but it must be noted that children should never be made to suffer as a result of whatever the situation or circumstance.
Fathers, do the honourable thing and be a father in every sense of the word. Children need more than financial support – they need a heart of love and arms of comfort. They need their fathers emotionally, physically and socially, too.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former President of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.

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