Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Kristen Gyles | ‘Daddy problem’ is a commitment problem

Published:Sunday | November 29, 2020 | 12:15 AM
Kristen Gyles
Kristen Gyles
Men who have healthy relationships with their children’s mother tend to have better and more fulsome relationships with their children
Men who have healthy relationships with their children’s mother tend to have better and more fulsome relationships with their children

Rayon was a delivery man when he met Selene two years ago on one of his errands in her community. By happenstance, a conversation struck up between them and it wasn’t long before they started talking. A lot. They became pretty close pretty quickly, and unlike Selene’s mother who was complaining about how her daughter needed to get a job, Rayon was pitching in with actual help.

He hooked her up with a job through a friend of his who owned an electronics store not too far out from the community. She grew closer and closer to her new boyfriend and eventually she started spending several nights at a time at his house.

Since they were now ‘together’, and things were going well, the topic of having a child came up, but like the course of their relationship, that conversation kind of just drifted on until it died a natural death, with no deliberate or definitive decision having been made.

And then it happened. The missed period.

Rayon was overjoyed to know he was now going to get a ‘yout’, and even bought a crib in anticipation of the child. He set it up in her home, and made himself available to help with whatever she needed. He was really supportive.

Then the child came, and so did the responsibilities that often accompany young children. Selene became a lot less ‘available’ for cuddle time with Rayon. They grew apart and over time, he started hanging around another girl.

Selene would now have to call him to update him on what was happening with the baby. Sometimes he would pick up. Occasionally he would come by just to see the kid and pet him on the head, but one day after she called him for his daddy dues, he came by and saw another man.

An argument started and she defended herself by saying she thought they had moved on. Rayon left in a fit, griping about how “gyal a demon” and has never been back since.

A few months after his angry fit, though, he called to wish his son happy birthday, but an argument about his outstanding dues started and he hung up.

Selene is now… a single mother.


Somewhere along the line, we are going to have to admit that marriages do more for the society than simply giving two lovebirds bragging rights to each other.

I have, under numerous other circumstances, spent my energy berating the men who flagrantly turn their backs on their children and their mothers as they pull away from their parental responsibilities. I think the time is now for us to discuss the other side of things.

Yes, many men forget their cares and hop from woman to woman, wantonly sowing their seed and leave women by the kerb with little to no help with figuring things out. But how did it happen? For every single mother that I hear lamenting the unfairness of life and how hard it is coping with the struggles of child-rearing, I find myself asking, “How?”

How did it happen? Women, wise up.

If a man has not made a clear commitment to stick by you, do not have a child with him! He will move on (from you) and since your child is with you, he will almost always also move on from the child. If a man can’t demonstrate to a woman he claims to love that he is willing to settle down with her to start a family, he shouldn’t be introducing the idea of having a child. It is a clear recipe for future neglect.

Children are not toys that you put down when you get tired of them or when they get too expensive. Many men, wanting to avoid the ‘trap’ of monogamy, are unwilling to commit to one woman for an entire lifetime, but of course want to commit to their child(ren) for a lifetime. Ha!

Many young people, especially, are now shrugging their shoulders at the idea of marriage, which it now seems is only for church people. But what’s the result? Fatherless kids everywhere.

Ronald Thwaites, in his recent column, “Crime is a ‘Daddy Problem’,” linked the issue of fatherlessness to crime. I want to go a little further in saying that same ‘daddy problem’ is a commitment problem. Too many men see no issue with casually just having children. After all, while they continue on the gardening trail, they aren’t the ones slaving under the weight of childcare responsibilities.

The women, on the other hand, taken over by a tragic case of ‘yam-headedness’, start out believing that even if he moves on to another woman, it won’t affect the relationship he has with his child. Folly.


Men who have healthy relationships with their children’s mother tend to have better and more fulsome relationships with their children. Yes, two persons may marry and eventually divorce but it is better to start out with a plan to stick together as a family than to drift with the tide. Women and children are the ones who stand to suffer in cases of father absenteeism so they must wise up.

Oftentimes when this topic is raised, upstanding people who were raised in single-parent homes raise the alarm that they turned out ‘quite fine’. Perhaps it is this rhetoric that continues the cycle of single-parenthood. People need to become familiar with the available research and stop looking at their individual one-off circumstances.

Family stability affects childhood outcomes. Children who grow up in single-parent homes are likely to grow up in more financially unstable conditions, with fewer educational achievements and with a more depressed self-esteem than their peers.

Furthermore, for almost every single-parent-raised success story out there, there is a tired parent who had to give up the livelihood and promise of their own youth for the sake of their children.

This is really a simple matter.

“Screw around if you think that will make you happy; but for your sake, for your child’s sake and for the nation’s sake, don’t conceive a child unless you have made a commitment to stick together.” – Ronald Thwaites

Kristen Gyles is a mathematics educator. Email feedback to and