Home Mom at Large PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

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Last week we carried two intriguing reports about two different men who were seeking to wriggle out of their parental responsibilities in two different interesting ways.

MODEL DAD: Basketball superstar Dwyane Wade was named America's 2007 father of the year after he succesfully fought for the custody of his two sons following a bitter and public break up with their mum.

One man , a confused church leader was demanding a third DNA test after disputing the findings of two positive tests which conclusively proved that he was the father of an 8 -year- old girl.

I have heard of the devil being blamed for all sorts of evil activities before, but it was the first time I heard someone hide behind the Holy Spirit.  The man was  adamant that it was the Holy Spirit that had absolved him from parental responsibilities.Needless to say and with all due respect to The Holy Spirit, we shall take that one with a big pinch of salt.

The other man on the other hand wanted financial assistance from whoever cares, for him  to carry out a DNA test so that if the child turns out to be his, he could  then apply to the court to gain parental rights. He is broke, he says and if no one donates to him the P5000 he needed for the DNA test, his baby would have to starve if the mother doesn’t make a plan.

My point is that unlike us mothers who have automatic parental responsibility from birth, fathers do not always have ‘parental responsibility’ for their children. And with more than one in three children now born outside marriage, some parents may be unclear about who has legal parental responsibility for their children.

Given such conditions it is my conviction therefore that the law needs to somehow make it compulsory that once you bring a child into this world whether you are married or not, you are both responsible for your creation. And one way of making that possible  would be to make it compulsory  for women to indicate the name of the father of their babies on the birth certificate and subsequently make it compulsory by law  for an unmarried father to have parental responsibility if he is named, or becomes named, on the child’s birth certificate.

I was appalled recently to hear a chief, a male one of course argue so vigorously at one of the 16 days of activism commemorations in Gaborone that the proposed naming of a father on birth certificates would be a violation of his culture and it would only serve to perpetuate what has come to be known as  Gender based violence, which he then went to describe as a ‘fashionable or buzz word’ of today. How a caring leader can defend a culture that encourages men, even married men to have children with unmarried women and not take responsibility for those children beats me.

When my children were born I was rudely scolded for putting down his dad’s name on the birth certificate, but I did anyways. For the second child I suffered the same treatment and I still did it, although in this case the person went out of their way to cancel it out and made sure it does not appear on the actual certificate.

In the light of the above sentiments, I would therefore like to hear what our dear readers out there think about the naming of fathers on birth certificates and forcing them to assume parental responsibility.

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