Thu | Feb 25, 2021

Kristen Gyles | Her child is his, too

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:18 AM
When two persons come together to produce a child, it is a joint effort
When two persons come together to produce a child, it is a joint effort
Kristen Gyles
Kristen Gyles
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We see men walking with their visibly old and over-rinsed underpants grinning from under (or above) their pants; big people thinking they can move up the bank line by getting a ‘skip’; and every other person now trying to hitch a ride on the new ‘no free speech’ bus. And here we are with yet another very worrying trend starting to surface – women (and men) positing that only women should have an opinion on the matter of abortion since women are the ones who bear children.

I am not here to talk about abortion and whether it is moral or not moral. Sorry to disappoint.

One of the many things that I find severely upsetting is when we adopt ideas that further alienate good fathers and promulgate the notion that mothers are the primary parents while fathers are there for backup. I don’t necessarily like engaging in the abortion debate because I prefer to allow persons who have had personal experiences with unwanted pregnancies to give their experiences. But can we at least agree that these persons can be both men and women?

Women are not the only ones who suffer from unwanted pregnancies and women are not the only ones affected by abortions. It takes two persons to produce a child and both parents are equally as responsible for the well-being of a child. This is why, as I have said in the past, when a child is born to two parents, regardless of the world being on fire or London bridge falling down, they must put all else aside to figure out how they will address the matter of the child’s well-being.

In many cases where a woman finds out she is pregnant and discloses this information to the father-to-be, the news is received very bitterly and he disappears, never to be seen again by her until she fortuitously spots him strolling through the supermarket with his wife and two young kids years later in another parish on the other side of the country. He didn’t want the child and so he decided to walk away. And we chide these men and remind them every day of their selfish and horrible behaviour. At least I do.

On the other hand, in quite a number of cases, things go a little differently. Instead of the woman being the one hoping to persuade the unwilling dad-to-be that everything will be all right and that they just need to stick together and do the best they can, the father is the one doing the persuading. The father finds out he has a child on the way and is happy to know he is going to have a ‘yout’. The mother, however, is not thrilled and opts for an abortion.

IT TAKES TWO

The decision to or not to bring a child into this world should be made by those who produce the child, and the last time I did some checks, it always takes a man and a woman to produce a child. How then does it become right to alienate men from the discussion on the basis that they are men? What is clear, too, is that the ‘Leave women to discuss their issues’ request only ever applies when men are perceived to be pushing anti-abortion arguments.

Men grieve abortions just like women do.

Many persons seem to be of the view that because the child is growing inside the mother’s body, she should have 100 per cent veto power over the decision of what should be done with the child. I’m sorry this is the context within which I have to be making this point, but fathers need to be more vocal about their children, not less vocal.

Mom doesn’t decide whether or not the child should be born and then let dad know, for him to then sacrifice everything to raise the child she decided to keep or pretend he doesn’t care and is completely unaffected by the abortion of his little one. In no way, at no time and in no place on planet Earth can that be reasonable.

I really hope that at some point our society will evolve into one where all fathers care to raise their children and where the .society actually expects them to. To argue that a woman has the sole authority over deciding what becomes of the offspring produced by both herself and the father is to insinuate that the father is really just there as good support. I guess he should keep his mouth shut as any good bystander would.

This is exactly how we seem to see it as a society, which is why so many men hop in and out of their children’s lives in the way they do. Even in this never-to-end conversation do we continue to promulgate the idea that fathers are a less essential breed of parents.

Further to that, this ‘my body, my choice’ thing that women are walking in the roads chanting nowadays is very instructive. I suppose if a woman decides that it’s her body and she wishes to douse its insides with alcohol despite the effect it will have on her child, it would also be her choice to make – whatever tickles her fancy.

Again, what is legal or not legal is a different matter altogether from what is reasonable or right.

DIFFERENT ROLES

Finally, I’ll say that women are women not because they were noble enough to choose to be born women. The biological make-up of a woman is such that it enables her to bear children. This is an immense blessing for many and for others it feels like a curse. But neither the blessing nor the curse can be accredited to any politician, pastor or even the society at large.

When two persons come together to produce a child, it is a joint effort, with the understanding that the woman will carry the baby as her biology dictates. I know it is now taboo to use the word ‘roles’, but this is one that is screaming on top of its lungs. And roles are not honour badges or trophies for good work. A woman’s role in procreation, therefore, does not make her a more upright, fit or essential parent than her child’s father, and gives her neither a greater right nor responsibility to the children.

Kristen Gyles is a mathematics educator. Email feedback to kristengyles@gmail.com and columns@gleanerjm.com