Sunday, April 21, 2024

Call to shift family focus

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The concept of the nuclear family – mum, dad and the kids – is a fantasy in the Caribbean, a forum on family life has been told.
This was one of the views expressed at Wednesday night’s event titled The Barbadian Family Structure, which was organized by the Family Life Commission of the Angilican Church.
At the start of the event at the Christ Church Parish Church Community Centre, panellists Dr Christine Barrow, political analyst Peter Wickham, legal consultant Faith Marshall-Harris and Anglican priest Rev. John Rogers addressed the audience on what defines family and marriage.
Barrow opened the session with a presentation on the different family structures, particularly in the Caribbean, where she said the high number of matrifocal (female-centred) family structures where the father is absent, had effectively made the notion of nuclear families a myth in the region.  
“We need to shift our focus on family from the structure to relationships,” Barrow said. “Instead of reconstructing families according to the nuclear model, we must focus on encouraging loving, caring, protective and supportive family relationships.”
On the topic of marriage, Rogers, of St Luke’s Anglican Church, said he never married anyone in his life, he simply blessed unions.  
“People marry each other; I bless unions,” he said. “I’ve said all of that to say that marriage does not belong to the church –it’s a cultural institution.”
He also said that the reality was that the church never really rejected homosexuals, but it was the act of buggery that was abhorred.
“We minister to all persons irrespective of their orientation,”?the priest said. “But there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room and it is this, we may well be living in a hypocritical society because I suspect, and this may be controversial, that there are more heterosexuals involved in buggery than homosexuals.”  
Marshall-Harris touched upon the issue of family violence, saying that the law had to recognize that a sizable amount of family violence occurred between persons who did not cohabit.
She added: “The present legislation only deals with cohabiting persons, but after we recognized that many relationships are visiting relationships, where two people have a child together but don’t live together and abuse is present, then that has to be dealt with in the law as well. These law reforms are coming.”  
Barrow said that the definition of “a good father” had changed dramatically over the years.
“Today’s fathers are doing much more, and many more are embracing the role,”?she said. (SM)

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