Great Expectations

Recently, I have had reason to examine the procedures governing the adoption of children in Jamaica. While doing so, I discovered that the laws were biased in favour of single women and married couples. I found it disconcerting that single men were not allowed to adopt female Jamaican children unless in exceptional situations. On an average day, I am ‘feministically inclined’ so it also puzzled me that I was not comfortable with this situation. It led me to ponder the question “What do Jamaicans expect of men?” Why are single men less worthy than single women to care for children who are not biologically theirs?

I decided to run the question by some of my Facebook friends. The general consensus that men are not considered to be nurturing, they are seen as a source of financial income and physical strength. They are perceived as irresponsible, unruly, disorganized and more likely to be criminals – murderers, thieves and swindlers – than parents. Let me point out at this juncture that Jamaica is not the only country that discriminates against single men in the adoption process; I still believe strongly that we should never underestimate the vices of women.

I also pondered whether the ‘average’ Jamaican man would even consider adopting a child. With the prevalence of what I like to call ‘Virility Music’ – dancehall lyrics that promote frequent and vigorous heterosexual intercourse with multiple partners – a man would be labelled as sterile or gay should he attempt to ‘commit’ such an unthinkable act. Perhaps if a single man expressed interest in adopting a child, he would be suspected of paedophilia.

The relationship between our expectations and reality could be considered a lot like the chicken/egg situation. People anticipate and react based on previous experiences and traditions. It is also true that our expectations and attitudes can influence the actions and general behaviour of those around us. It is a difficult cycle to ponder. Chief among the causes of Jamaica’s various social ills is that we do not expect much from our men. In this arena we need to adopt Digicel’s slogan “Expect More. Get More.”

Please examine the below photograph of Robert and his three boys. I met them at the beach where he was watching over them as they played around in the water and sand. I remain encouraged.

5357864299 f89d7b9985 Great Expectations
I strongly believe that if we persuade our men to believe in their capabilities there would be more admirable men and an even more beautiful Jamaica. Perhaps it is the smoke from my flamingly patriotic heart that has clouded my eyes but I still have great expectations for my country and I do believe that one day she will live up to them.

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  1. Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    Jamaican men are supposed *not* to be nurturing, so most aren’t. I applaud those who are, and who provide a model of strong, nurturant manhood. That, actually, used to be a standard. Why it has been replaced by the hyper-masculine badman I have no idea.

  2. J. Morrison
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    I love the pic. I’ve asked the same questions about men and have had the same hopes and line of thinking. But I have given up. It will be a long process for men in general to reach the bar of true manhood. The problems are cultural hence they are deeply rooted. I have seen a few men who, in my opinion have reached the bar but I don’t know that boys desire to emulate them. Rather I think they see them as ‘weak’ and steer away from the wealth or values they possess. Again- the problems are cultural.

  3. Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    excellent writing in this post.

    As a young Jamaican man I can definitely relate to your virility music reference. Thank the heavens I am not your average Jamaican man and I intent to nurture and care for my own kids

  4. Biggz
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 8:57 PM | Permalink

    Nowadays the minds of our young men are too easily influenced and by the worst of things, and those who should be stamping the mark of a true man and set the example are the ones who worsen the situation.

  5. Jae
    Posted January 31, 2011 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    Good one

  6. Posted February 1, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    There is a certain amount of bias in any and everything we do. Whether this bias is keeping us safe or alignating people or racist is a problem that is ever lasting. Maybe the stereotype needs to be evaluated more closely on a individual basis but its not going to go away. Its just one of those things.

  7. Posted May 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

    good post! couldnt have said it better! like the issues you touching on

  8. Bruce
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    I know ALOT of great fathers in Jamaica I can’t recall knowing any with which is said to be of the average Jamaican Father as you put it here. My father is an example of what a great father is, an example is when he used to whoop my behind when I give too much trouble, but now I understand why he did it as it made me tough and groomed me into a good man “thanks dad”.
    Nuff Restpect to all the Great Fathers & Mothers in Jamaica and the rest of the world, the future is really in their hands !
    Nuff Said !

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