Single Parenting In Jamaica
The Shocking Cause & Effects

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Single Parenting In Jamaica
by Nemonie Cassells

Single parenting, just thinking about it makes me uncomfortable. This type of family is ever so present and more acceptable of late all over the world, but it seem to have been a norm here in Jamaica ever since I was a child.

I remember vividly as a  toddler living with my mom, it was just her and my older bother. Then my baby sister came along and it was just us four until my dad took me to live with him in the city.

My mother raised my brother and sister all by herself, with little or no financial help, while my father raised me and my younger sister with the help of a nanny for a while.

He eventually got married when I was a teen, but before then, my household would still be considered a single parent household since there was no permanent mother figure.

I am a parent now, and am grateful that I am not raising my children by myself! This however, does not dismiss the effects of being raised in a single parent home and it does not dismiss the fact that thousands of Jamaicans were raised in single parent homes - a lot who are now raising their children in a single parent home themselves!

It is my opinion that, 6 out of every 10 Jamaican families are single parent families, however to get statistical information please see visit this link form Unicef:

What Do We Mean By Single Parenting Though? 

Single parenting is basically where an unwed, unattached, spouse-less (whichever term you prefer), parent, who takes on most, if not all, of the day to day responsibilities of raising a child/children.

In most cases, you will find that the mothers are the primary care givers in a single parent household in Jamaica.

Whether other family members, such as grandparents (most often the grandmothers), are present in the household it is irrelevant because at the end of the day, they are still NOT the missing parent.

And Why? What Are The Causes Of Single Parenting In Jamaica?

There are different factors that may result in one becoming a single parent here in Jamaica, factors such as the death of a spouse or divorce but the single most common one here is unplanned parenting.

Based on my observation, our Jamaican society does not place great emphasis on “The Family”. We are not a people who stress greatly about the consequences of being raised by only one parent, even though most of us would prefer being raised by, or raise our own children, with both parents present.

And what are some of the effect of single parenting? Read on...

Effects Of Single Parenting In Jamaica

Jamaican Proverb: “ Fadda suck di sowa grape, put the pickney teet pa edge”
English Meaning: (Father sucked the sour grape. Set the children’s teeth on edge)

Truer words have never been spoken!

Single parent household not only creates academical problems, but also psychological problems for most of who were raised in one.

I am not saying, they will necessarily be high school drop outs or criminals (hey look at me!), but the void that the missing parent leaves is deep and wide can not be filled.

And other problems such as…

  • Abandonment issues
  • Low self esteem(girls mostly)
  • Loneliness/longing. Therefore feeling the need to replace missing parent with partner (this often result in young girls getting involved with older men, often times getting pregnant and ending up being a single parent themselves)
  • Boys having this “gallis (ladies man)” mentality and not valuing or respecting females as they should &
  • Unexplained aggression towards others may also arise. 

Because Jamaica is perhaps not where we want to be on counseling or therapy, then these issues go unresolved.

Set aside the financial struggles that the mothers often face and the loneliness and the constant need to place a father figure in her child or children’s life… at the end of the day, the children are the ones that suffer the most.

What Else Does Single Parenting In Jamaica Lead To?

Here is what I've personally observed over the years growing up and living in Jamaica:

  • Often times, you find that juvenile delinquents belong to a single parent home. Therefore single parenting can lead to juvenile delinquency.
  • Adults who were raised in a single parent family often times find it hard to raise a stable family of their own due to not having a good example to follow.
  • Males tend to lack the sense of true responsibility, and in turn, walk out on their own children as their own fathers did. 
  • Females often have a fear of having children because they do not want to raise their child  or children alone

And here’s what Dr. Ralph Thompson had to say about single parenting in Jamaica when he addressed the Gleaner Editor’s forum:

So you see, the impact is far reaching! A lot more is definitely needed if we are to realize our 20-30 dream of making Jamaica the choice of place to live, work, raise families and do business.

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