Father’s Day- The “Poor relative”?
R. Rose - Eye of the Needle
June 14, 2024

Father’s Day- The “Poor relative”?

This Sunday there will be somewhat muted activities in some quarters to celebrate what can only be termed “the poor relations” of the family observance business – Father’s Day. It remains a cruel irony that despite centuries of male dominance in our societies, irrespective of ideological leaning,  Father’s Day has had to play second fiddle at best in the family observance business.

To be sure, before our males start to shout “foul”, it must be said that this unfortunate situation is partly of our own doing. In the case of ex-slave societies like ours, there are additional and substantial underlying causes as well.

The system of chattel slavery was not conducive to facilitating family life nor the role of fathers in the slave population.

Indeed, just as our female forbears were used as “breeding machines”, so correspondingly were male slaves, especially the “big strong bucks”, used as sperm donors, most time having no clue as to the fate of their offspring nor responsibility for their upbringing. This can not be conducive to any harmonious family relationship with a responsible male head of the family.

While this is undoubtedly a contributing factor, we have come a long way since then in many other areas of social life – better educated, access to family homes, greater economic opportunities and in many other areas.

So, while we have contributing historical factors, just as we struggled to end slavery, colonialism, discrimination and other such ills, we need to look at what other constraints to our development are there and wage similar assaults to overcome them. Regrettably, there are too many men who use the negative historical experiences as excuses for what is a major contributor to serious social deficiencies.

Today, churches, governments, social scientists and all kinds of social institutions and organizations attribute many of our societal ills to the impact of fatherless families, comparing the effect to a rudderless ship. A ton of statistics are there to support this, relating to a wide field of operations, in the home, educationally and consequently in the wider society.

One area stands out starkly, that of the impact of the absence of fathers in a home on young males. We hear the lament each week even as the crime statistics continue to weave a web of shame over our societies.

One aspect of the crime situation that is most worrying is the role of young men, many, if not most of them fathers of children, in not just crime, but violent crime. Worse, time and again statistics have been used to trace the background of these culprits revealing the lack of fatherly guidance in a stable home setting.

Whether in our own Vincentian society, in the wider Caribbean and even in the USA and the U.K., young black males are all too often implicated in these criminal acts. Despite continuing to contribute to the proliferation of this fatherless family structure, their social contributions are often in the negative column- drugs, guns shootings and murder. But while these might be the extreme, we cannot lose sight that even among the more educated young men, gainfully employed, there is an unsatisfactory level of responsibility where fathering is concerned.

True, the situation has improved over the years, but still too many young men, who should know better, in cases where they are in relationships outside marriage, still consider that if they provide some sort of financial assistance, woefully inadequate often using the bare legal minimum, that they are making their domestic contributions. A lot of work needs to be done in this regard.

However, if we do look on the bright side, there are more and more young men beginning to play their part in the upbringing of children. Even as we highlight the negatives, we must applaud these positive developments and use them for inspiration. Fathers’ Day is an excellent opportunity to highlight those healthy trends in our society and to encourage young fathers to continue to shoulder their share of the responsibility of rearing families.

To those fathers and grandfathers who over the years have set positive examples, we must express our appreciation and continued support. We moan a lot about the negatives but do not do enough to highlight the positives in our society, to use all our forms of communication to publicize worthwhile examples in fathering. It is a long road to put Fathers’ Day on an equal keel to Mother’s Day, but if we truly believe that healthy family relations are important in building cohesive societies, we can at least try.

HAPPY FATHERS DAY to all our fathers!


  • Renwick Rose is a community activist and social commentator.