Work together on new family model
THERE HAS BEEN a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of our declining birth rates and the deleterious effects that they could have on our national development.
Mr George Griffith (former head of the Barbados Family Planning Association) has suggested that if we desire to increase birth rates, we will need to establish a population policy that includes a comprehensive range of incentives that would cause women to want to have children.
Now while I am confident that his proposal takes into account the role that Barbadian men play in the said birth rates, given the many perspectives and narratives that have been tabled, I get the sense sometimes that as a country, we seem to hold the view that our women are singularly responsible for determining whether or not to have a child.
This subtle ethos seems to reinforce our culturally indoctrinated colonial philosophy that our men are merely sperm donors, whose DNA and biological characteristics are the only criteria to consider.
According to Mr Griffith, “women nowadays are not going to allow themselves to spend their most productive years having children when there is no partner to assist them”.
The Men’s Educational Support Association (MESA) continues to agitate for stronger families where men are equally and actively engaged in the lives of their children.
And, insomuch that women appear less inclined to have children, our men are also exercising significant restraint.
If we want to seriously address this issue of declining birth rates, we will need more than tax concessions, day care facilities and nursery schools, et al. We will need to fix our family structures. We will need to fix our systems. We will need to fix our laws.
If Barbadian women with one cursory glance can see a plethora of strong, confident, responsible men who they believe will be awesome dads, the issues we face with declining birth rates is highly likely to disappear even in the absence of concessions and tax waivers.
The great point is that we need to work together to empower our boys and our men and help them to become the kind of fathers that will take their place in a new Barbadian family model.
– SEAN ST CLAIR FIELDS, deputy chairman, MESA