When a man gets a job it is supposedly on the basis that he’s qualified and competent…or that he’s expected to gain experience “on the job”. Many ads ask for persons with “x years of experience…” and we ask how some are expected to gain said expertise if they can’t get a chance to prove their worth. The other aspect of this job is the “role”. It is popularly described as “job description”. Now here’s the thing. A man gets a “job” with little or no experience and a “job description” that has never been given to him…with the expectation that he’ll perform at optimum and realise the mandate. Hardly a chance. Men who become fathers are given that mammoth, insurmountable mountain of responsibility, but let’s really be honest…if we can…and look at it practically and realistically. Let’s use the working world philosophy in a simplistic analogy with woman as employer, man as employee and child as ‘the job’.
Terms of Employment
Some men get what is known as “one day work” and simply show up, do the work and that is that. A few might be fortunate enough to get a ‘call back’, but most will simply move on to the next available opportunity without having established any ties or obligations to the former employer. On reflection the employer might wish to make contact with a full time offer, as a job has been created. Unfortunately, lots of those offers will be turned down for various reasons, but the employer should be well aware when hiring one day workers of the possible return rate…or should’ve ensured as best as possible that a one day worker not be allowed to have access to sensitive areas of work. My advice to employers? Remember at all times the serious nature of the work involved and avoid taking a casual approach to hiring…you cannot hire a one day worker and simply expect that he’s prepared or even willing to take on a full time job.
Some men get hired on a contract basis …and of course these agreements differ dependent on what kind of work the employer requires and what the qualifications and competence levels of the employee. There are short term contracts with an expiration date that comes almost as soon as the work begins. Some contracts go for a longer period of let’s say a year…the chance of full time employment is much higher there, as employers get a chance to see all the potential and assess the employee as an asset to the company. However, clauses abound to ensure that at any point during said contracts the employer can terminate services with immediate effect for a multiplicity of reasons. The employee also has a few loopholes afforded to him to withdraw if he so desires. Of course there is always a possibility for renewal/extension of a contract, but it is advisable to notify the employee before the period ends…one never knows if an employee might have already taken on a new contract, or better yet, agreed to employment overseas. Advice to employers? When you offer contract work anywhere from three (3) months to a year, be in constant dialogue with your employee to ensure he doesn’t plan to use the exit clause and catch you off guard….simultaneously, you should keep the employee abreast of how you view his tenure thus far, especially if you plan to terminate the contract without notice. By the way, having terminated the contract and firing the employee, it would be most unusual to attempt rehiring former employee to take care of the job. Remember, “your services are no longer required and we wish you the best in all future endeavours” are not words meant to be temporary emotional utterances. You can’t simply hire someone for an extended period based on an emotional whim, dismiss them on the same premise, but expect them to readily run back to you because a full time job has been created. Maybe you need to take your jobs more seriously.
Some men get hired to do behind the scenes contract…work unseen, unknown, come and go. In many instances the employer has benefited significantly from having this worker, with results upfront proving to be quite profitable. Many times the employer is given all the credit for an excellent profile and business management skills as an independent business owner. However, a significant part of this profile is due largely to the employee, who for one reason or another, might not fit the public profile of the employer or is already aligned to another company….so the employee is pretty much a secret weapon from behind. This scenario might suit the employer just fine until the moment the employee insists on greater exposure or simply resigns because he is not prepared to remain in the shadows…or the demands of his other employer becomes overwhelming. But if an employer is comfortable having a phantom employee who is never seen or heard, then the same must be expected of the employee. Things can change in an orgasmic moment of opportunity. Suddenly you get a job for a lifetime and expect the invisible employee to jump at an opportunity to step forward? Some might see it as a moment of validation or acceptance, while others might stick to being labelled ‘secret’. Some people enjoy the title “self employed and independent” in the public eye until the moment the big job comes along and everyone is shocked to realise there is no employee to be seen. Obviously, they couldn’t have acquired this job alone, though convincing everyone that they’ve been working by themselves all this time. Advice to employers? If someone isn’t good enough to put in the front of your business, maybe you shouldn’t have employed them in the first place…it isn’t their fault they failed to step to the front after a long time…you insisted they stay in the back.
Some men get hired but are eventually in a fraud job contract otherwise called a jacket contract. This is actually a significant part of why so many jobs have employers and many employees are missing…although many employees stay knowing their jobs are frauds. Jamaica has the HIGHEST RATE IN THE WORLD FOR FRAUD JOB (JACKET) CONTRACTS. The statistics show that in this country ONE IN EVERY THREE is a fraud job. Now this is not only a significant statement about employers, but an even more damning situation for all the jobs that exist. What is even more depressing is the rate at which employers in Jamaica curse their male employees as worthless, deadbeat and non contributory when so many have been offering fraud jobs. The statistics also show that Jamaica is almost on par with many developed countries for employees who do well on the job or try to get the job done right. The figures for non existent employees who have avoided the job from day one is about thirty (30) percent. It would be interesting to ascertain whether some of the dysfunctional numbers also fall into the fraud job category. The Jamaican group of employers has always avoided discussing this and other factors mentioned prior in a full, frank and honest way, and instead seek to make it appear insignificant to further their cause and agenda of “missing employees”. Clearly that has done nothing for the present state of the job market and will continue to see the consistent increase in fraud job and other types of contracts.
Put Children First
Being a father is a multi-level, multidimensional form with a myriad of issues and no established and set formula. Many fathers have to face many different situations from the ideal to the idiotic all the way to the impossible. Is there one way to discipline a child? No. Is there one way to love someone or to make love or to grow a plant or to play a game of football? No. Is there a tried, tested and proven manual for a man to read and follow which guarantees he will become an excellent father? No. One of the things many forget is that it doesn’t take a man to make or raise a child. As such, the women involved also have a part to play in how things evolve. The relationships between men and women before, during and after a child is in the picture are all integral parts of how things develop. Separation of couples for example can be as smooth as oil on a child or as caustic and toxic as rare poison. Can we look at men and determine that what they do with/for their children is inadequate because of what WE think it should be? How can the richest and the poorest man both be judged as “great fathers” if we say money and material provision is the greatest thing a man must do for a child?
Can we say that a man who can fully provide for his children is a better father than a man who can’t? If the great provider isn’t a man whose children can call for any reason, at any time or he can’t take the time to teach life lessons or give a listening ear….is he a better father because his cheque book is going good? If a man is no longer with the mother of his child does that now make him less than a father because he doesn’t live in the same house? Should we say men who have lived and worked overseas for many years without physically seeing their children are less than fathers who live at home?
All the great men I know who have been hailed as great fathers were fathers to many of us, not just their own children. Their wisdom, time, teachings, and influence made us treasure them more than anything else. I still can’t remember them buying any of us gifts. I never had my father around and taught myself to do many things on my own, in spite of a forest full of father figures. Ironically, most of my friends with fathers at home had to learn by the same route and in several instances, we were taught by each other. Some of the most dysfunctional homes I know had father and mother living at home, which told me my existence wasn’t degraded or devalued because my father was never there. One of the men whose children all declare him ‘Father of the Century” is a man who I grew up admiring as a great, but humble man. He never had a dollar to give a soul, but he gave of himself. Their mother cursed him daily while the children were on the way to see him and upon their return. One thing is sure….those it mattered to most made the most of him and I was honoured to be a part of that experience.
We all talk about the roles of fathers…the roles we impose on them according to what is dictated by one authority or another…most of us got the jobs without a job description or experience. Most of us followed what we saw or mainly what we imagined based on our own experiences. All these things vary based on life as it unfolds with a partner or in our own settings, while we hope for the best. Many judges have come from humble beginnings, many criminals from affluence. Has a poor father been the reason for his son’s success? Has a rich man been the reason for his son’s failure? What is a ‘good’ father and who determines that? The women who bear these children? The society that sees these children? The experts who view these children? The children who have been conditioned to condemn themselves? I know many great fathers who have been sold as rubbish by the mothers of their children, while the children say otherwise. So what or who is a ‘good’ father?
Fathers help to create a positive foundation for children to one day stand a live on their own. We cannot be the foundation for life or they will never be able to stand. We cannot create a foundation all by ourselves. The more we accept that it takes several people to raise a child the more we realise fathers are not Superman….it’s just good if we’re seen that way. The more we decide to bury the spirit, value and relevance of fatherhood while making excuses for its validity, is the harder we make it for more men to rise up. The more we devalue boys is the more men of challenged import we create. Let us decide that instead of always finding one hundred (100) reasons for tearing down fathers we find one (1) reason to applaud them. The more good we find and highlight might be the less we find to curse and berate. To those women who keep flying the fabled and fictitious flag that the “Jamaican man makes children and cuts”, slow down for a minute. While you say that, make a list of all the men you know who in your opinion are reasonably good, good or great fathers. I suspect you’ll find there are many you know personally or are familiar with….so how true can your statement be? It is also time for more women to self analyse and be very honest with themselves and each other. Jamaican women CANNOT continue to throw men and fathers under the bus, while ignoring the fact that one (1) out of every three (3) children in Jamaica is likely to be a “jacket”…that means one (1) of every three (3) men is a victim of paternity fraud, the highest stats in the world….Nigeria is at number two (2).
We all need to make better choices for ourselves and hopefully those choices will lead to better lives especially if and when children become a part of the equation. Meanwhile, I encourage all men who have tried, are trying, are doing well as fathers…just keep trying. You might falter, fall flat, rise and soar like an eagle, have those moments of ups and downs…just keep trying. Life can throw many a curved ball, so as men let us not also join in tearing down other men…you never know what life can dish you at any moment…richer, poorer, sickness, health, better….or worse. But a philosophy I give freely to pass on to your children: “Remember what I taught you, not what I bought you…it stands the test of time and beyond” – RSOC
Rodney S. O. Campbell