It is easy for men to blame women for becoming single moms and having children that they cannot afford to feed and nurture and educate. The social and economic problems resulting from single-parenting are among the most challenging that our country faces today.
Single mothers face poverty that few can imagine, and with poverty comes degradation. Single mothers find it difficult to feed their children, much less educate them. They must find work, or their children will go hungry, and if they must go out to work, there is often no one at home to take care of the kids.
So much hardship and sacrifice are associated with single moms that men often wonder: Why do they do it?
They do it because women have a deep biological need for love and companionship, and yes, because women fall for the duplicity – the sweet talk of men out for adventure and conquest.
The simple truth is that men are as responsible for the problem of single parents as are the women, and many times they are more to blame. The problems arising from single parent families cannot be discussed in isolation, without bringing the men into the conversation.
Civilization has accepted the Judeo-Christian view that our society needs to have stable and secure families as its building blocks. The family, except in Moslem societies which permit one man to have many wives, consists of a man and a woman and their offspring.
Countries which follow this model prosper because children who grow up in a stable environment of Mom and Dad and siblings come to maturity with a greater sense of assurance, of worth, of loyalty to family, of where they want to go in life. The Mom & Dad family model provides children with a safe environment and with set of values that they cannot get anywhere else.
Within the family they learn about kindness, sharing, compassion, loyalty. They learn to aspire and to compete. They learn to study and achieve, and frequently when they are old enough, they get good advice from Mom and Dad.
These good experiences are available in Mom & Dad homes. They are seldom available to children who grow up with single moms who are also the bread-winners.
The immense disparity between families in Belize is quite simply that some have more opportunities than others – opportunities to grow and develop character and personality; opportunities to learn and be exposed to good ideas and influences; opportunities to dream and to soar; opportunities to be children of light instead of being children of darkness.
All these benefits spring from a secure and loving home with Mom and Dad looking out for one another and for the children. When the harmony is broken; when one or both parents fail; when Dad reneges on his obligations and responsibilities for his children, that is the beginning of disaster. That is a disaster which overwhelms the family, the neighbourhood and the society.
It is admirable that the Government of Belize is spending 20 percent of its annual revenue on educating our young people. Twenty percent is proportionally more than most countries spend per child. But this money cannot achieve all that it is intended to achieve because so many family units are fractured and dysfunctional.
It is time for us as a society to turn our attention to the family. Let the discussion begin on how we can stabilize and empower our families. Let us examine our laws and our policies to see how they impact on the family. What can we do to encourage more marriages; more long-term relationships; a more caring and productive environment for our young people to grow and to excel.
This new year, let the discussion begin! .