‘It Takes a Village to Raise a Child’ Focus on the Family
This article is written in support of the children I have seen in my counselling practice. The evidence that is unknown to the communities in which they thrive to exist, but in silence. These children feel rejected, but are afraid to express their desires and need for parental care and affection.
Where has the Family Unit gone?
We remember the togetherness and the wholesome experiences talked about by our grandparents, and the taste of unity that we experienced when our parents sent us to their motherland, Jamaica, a decade after its independence to gain cultural awareness. And now we are surrounded by the loud expressions of unattached, discontentment and dysfunctional family life that seems beyond repair.
So what went wrong? Sadly these conditions and feelings of oppression are more prevalent within our socio-economic deprived communities where fear of the future and feelings of ‘no hope for change’ is the everyday frustration that detaches families and provokes community rivalry. It is within these communities with limited exposure that some choose to look outside Jamaica for a better life and opportunities for themselves and their families and they make every attempt to getaway.
‘The United States established diplomatic relations with Jamaica in 1962 following its independence from the United Kingdom’. And since then it consistently advertises its glamour, its social caring and welfare systems and the opportunity to study or visit with further opportunities to live there with the privileged ‘Green Card’. The US Embassy creates its application for entry in layman terms showing no discrimination to the Jamaican National applicant who dreams to get away from the oppression even for a little while. It’s never an easy decision to make an application, as there are known frequent refusals.
Howard W French writes, ‘before dawn on many days, in a ritual repeated across the Caribbean, long lines of people anxious to build new lives in the United States begin forming outside the high white walls of the American Consulate here. Inevitably, many fail to clear the barrier before the building's sprawling courtyard is filled and no new applicants are admitted’. For those who are successful, it all seems surreal and wonderful with the idea of making a happier family life abroad. The hope that as one leaves for this privileged opportunity, that one will prepare for the others to gain the same opportunities to keep families together.
In reality, this is one of the main vehicles that has fragmented and broken family life and communities throughout the Island, where children and loved ones are left behind with no protection, love or affection. This hope for family life becomes dimmer as the years roll on with not even a return visit to seal their expectations. But our children are resilient as they will continue to live in hope that one day they will join their parent/s, but that day in most cases never come.
So what happened, when did that dream for a family life disappear? What happens when Jamaica Nationals get to the other side? The expectation of the grass being greener becomes not so green anymore, as the real struggle to find honest suitable work without going through the right channels to make ends meet and the pressure to find enough funds to feed their families back home is the reality? Some throw up their hands in despair but refuse to abort their mission.
Trying to find a way forward they give in to pressure and attach themselves to whoever will show them a possible way out. Most times this help is offered with expected commitments that kill the hope of the family life they left behind.
The cries of the children, mothers, fathers, and partners left behind:
The children, mothers, fathers, and partners left behind become bitter! This bitterness cradles our communities’ children feel rejected and become rebellious, mothers are frustrated and take out this frustration on their children and unemployed fathers hold their hands up trying to find a way out, sometimes turning to the worse solution ~ criminal activities claiming it's their way to put a meal on the table, as their children become uncontrollable from feeling rejected, arguments, frustration, fights, and resentment. This bad influence becomes the expectation of our children and they begin to view a life of poverty with a vicious mental attitude, trusts no one and everyone becomes a public enemy even those whom they had once trusted as their saviour from oppression and poverty.
Partners broken and confused find other lovers not thinking in reality, looking for love in the wrong places. The village then becomes an environment where everyone is in chaos looking out for themselves rather than for each other. And the grandparents pick up the broken pieces of their children’s distress, trying their best to parent their grandchildren the only way they know, not recognizing that the form of parenting and punishment they knew is no longer working in this 21st Century or others turn to extreme measures, not punishing bad behaviour thinking that their grandchild is acting out because they have lost the care and attention of their parents.
The Society grows weary as grandparents live by what they know and with limited reading and writing ability, resources available are unknown and the children become the talk of the tabloids. Children are having children, thinking they will do a better job than their parents, choosing men that are unaware themselves of parenthood, who have never come in contact with their own father and teenage girls look for men that claim to be father figures, but who are predators and sexual abusers.
The Family Courts to have lost their moral standing making harmful legal decisions by putting children behind bars for bad behaviour ‘Prison Time for No Crime’ rather than finding or implementing suitable interventions to help them create and provide better wholesome family relationships. In the Sunday Gleaner, Dec 8.2019 Karyl Walker writes ‘Children who needed interventions were locked away in Prison because neither their families nor the State could offer solutions to help them’ [According to Justice for Jamaica (JFJ) Executive Director Rodje Malcolm].
So what must Jamaican sympathizers do when the Child Care and Protection Services seems lost in protecting those children having no legal representation and not being heard? What is to be done when families are at a loss of where to turn?
This is where therapeutic interventions of a different kind need to be explored. Family interventions rather than child welfare rights exercised. ‘Focus on the Family’ creating solutions for both the child and the parent giving them a space to understand each other to have better relationships. This is the theme that needs to be emphasized in this present-day society ~ Solution Focus Brief Therapy conducting a Family Systemic Approach.
We need our families back, to grow together and for our communities to begin believing and supporting each other again. We need Jamaica back to how it was when little was enough, we need to sometimes shut the door away from the rest of the world and work on ourselves, our communities and our society, not hating but uniting.
I believe we can find a way, we will find a way, and, yes there is away. We can bring back the village to raise our children! Who is with me on this?
References: ‘Prison Time for No Crime’ the Sunday Gleaner December 8, 2019, ~ Karyl Walker Caribbean Exodus: U.S. Is Constant Magnet 1992 ~ Howard W French U.S. Relations with Jamaica ~ Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
Eyvonne Black |Founder & Programme Director | Desire2Win™ TP | [email protected]