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Today’s interview is from Miguel Morrison, aged 42 years old. He is a certified electrician and refrigeration technician, father to one and lives with his partner on the western end of the island. Miguel gives us his perspectives on fatherhood by sharing his experiences.
Thank you for taking part in this series on fatherhood and sharing your perspective with Childhood Central.
Margo: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Miguel: Well, I’m a fun-loving person. I have a good sense of humour, and I like to put a twist on things; I like to even dig joy from a funeral. I like to even make a mannequin laugh. I tend to look at things a bit differently from the average person. I like nature, music, and poetry.
Margo: What do you like most about fatherhood?
Miguel: Ah, it’s the mere fact that there is no one in this world who authentically loves me more than my child. It’s a joy to just come home and have my child running to me like I’m her hero.
Margo: What has been the most challenging thing about fatherhood?
Miguel: I worry when I send my child to school. I worry if she’s going to come back in one piece or if she’s ever going to come back home at all. I wish I could be there to protect her, you know, being in her classroom like a guardian angel just to protect her, guide her, tell her when, where, and how.
Margo: What has been the biggest lesson(s) you’ve learnt from fatherhood?
Miguel: One of the biggest lessons I have learnt is that there is a difference between a man and a boy. I have really learnt that when you are a father, a parent, you tend to make sacrifices and you understand the true meaning of sacrifice as a father.
Margo: I just want to go back a little to where you said there is a big difference between a man and a boy, what do you mean by that?
Miguel: A boy is basically a child who thinks of childish things and has childish ways and childish responsibilities that he doesn’t really care about. When you are a man, you have to step up to the table and do mature stuff.
Margo: Would you say that fatherhood somehow brought you into your manhood?
Miguel: Yes. It took an interesting twist because it brought out that father inside me that wasn’t so strong before.
Margo: How has your own childhood influenced your fathering?
Miguel: Based on my upbringing, how my mother brought us up, and my experiences as a child, what I experienced, I don’t want any of that for my child. I don’t want that. I want to ensure that she gets a proper education. I also want to instil in her some good values and I think teachers don’t have the time to do all of that; I think it starts from home.
Fatherhood has taught me how to be humble, be a go-getter, and it pushes me to go out there because I have a reason for living and a reason for working. If I could relive my life, what I know now if I knew then – maybe at forty I would be retiring instead of, you understand?
Margo: What do you think is/are the biggest misconception(s) about Jamaican fathers, and what about Jamaican fathers do you want people to know?
Miguel: One of the big misconceptions is that Jamaican fathers don’t really care and that they just want to have children all over the place – like it’s more for bragging rights rather than paying attention to the damage they have caused. I have seen good fathers out here, and we have to focus on the fathers, not the ones that we call sperm donors.
I have seen good fathers, excellent fathers. I see many men every day on the worksite, the reason they are there is not because they want to work, they have responsibilities, and they are working because of the children. So I would say that that’s a good look. There are a lot of good fathers. There are a lot of unsung heroes.
Margo: As a new father, have you felt like you needed support? If so, where do you turn to for that support?
Miguel: To be honest, I’m so fatherly inclined and aware and I got a lot of teachings because I wasn’t a young father. I’ve learnt so much; it’s like I have a diploma. I did not have much of a challenge or needed that much support. I am the father now, and I have to step up to the plate. Where I find a challenge, however, is between my partner and me.
We have different views on certain things. I tend to be overprotective of my child because you always have to keep an eye on children. They are new humans trying to explore, and they don’t know the dos and don’ts.
So in a way, you have to be their remote control, so to speak. I always ensure that my child walks on the straight and narrow. So while I’m overprotective, my partner’s approach is a bit more relaxed, and we sometimes clash in that regard.
Margo: Do you think fathers are getting the support they need or do we need to do more as a society to support fathers? If fathers need support, how can we do better as a society to support them?
Miguel: Sometimes, I think dialogue is necessary. It would help to ask some out-of-the-box questions that people shy away from asking fathers because maybe they think it’s too personal. Sometimes, as men, we are too silent but having conversations is very good; questions are very good because that’s how we learn. Don’t be judgmental; just have a good dialogue with fathers.
Margo: Do you think that a lot of fathers need support but they are not being approached with what their concerns might be and so are not getting the help that they need?
Miguel: Yes, and what happens is that not every man can work out their issues by maybe having a counsellor or someone that they look up to because we all have different personalities. A good approach is to get a feel for the person and try to understand them before you begin that dialogue. It also helps to be down-to-earth; just be flexible and approachable when you talk to them.
Trust me, conversations are good because I have so many friends, and I am the one they turn to. You would be surprised by what men are going through. We are not angels, you know. Men are going through so much, and we do not talk about it; that is why sometimes we punch walls. I also think women who can get to the level of men by being down-to-earth can also reason with them.
Margo: Don’t you think men respond better to other men in terms of opening up and talking? As a father, you are all on the same level, and because of that, they would be more open to you than a female.
Miguel: Well, females are just one aspect of it. Let’s say, a roots brethren just sit and have a reason with them, like a corner reasoning with maturity. I think that is another way, maybe the super way. I have spoken to many fathers, my brethren, and I have been able to get a lot of things out of them.
So both women and men can support fathers, and sometimes a mix of age groups can work too. The important thing is that the person needs to be authentic and can sit down and hold a reason. Men are more likely to open up if they feel comfortable with the person they are talking to.
Another point is that sometimes people just want to talk and express themselves; if that person smokes, don’t tell them that you won’t speak to them if they are smoking, you know what I mean? If a man is smoking and he wants to express himself to you, don’t make a big deal of it.
At that moment he’s there talking to you because it is important to create a non-judgmental atmosphere so that the person can be themselves and be comfortable. If you’re going to get something out of them, I think you can allow yourself to be uncomfortable for that moment.
What did you think of Miguel’s perspectives? Do you agree? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts.