On the third Sunday in June each year, we pause to celebrate the fathers of our nation, and the critical role they play in raising productive citizens, building communities and in so doing, building the country.
My own father stood as a pillar of strength in my family and in my life. So too, my husband Greg has been a source of support and guidance for our children and grandchildren.
We often look at fathers as role models, protectors, mentors, leaders. Children look at their fathers as always having the right answer no matter the question or situation. The more traditional concepts of fatherhood can cause stress on men, as they feel pressured to live up to society’s expectations of them.
Our society continues to evolve, and here in Trinidad and Tobago, we are starting to see more progressive attitudes, such as fathers choosing to stay home and care for their children. Also notable is the introduction by one private sector company of paid paternity leave for fathers. This is a commendable initiative, and it is one that should be considered for other organizations, to give both parents the opportunity to bond with their infants.
Our country continues to face significant challenges, and both men and women are affected. We continue to grapple with a stagnant economy, rising unemployment, rampant crime and lack of opportunities for children.
We must pay special attention to the young men of our nation. Too many of our young men are victims of the cycle of violence that pervades too many communities in Trinidad and Tobago. Young men need positive male role models to look up to and to inspire them to become better men. So today let’s also celebrate all men who are doing the job of fathers whether they themselves have children or not.
To the fathers who continue to fight, who continue to champion and most of all who continue to love and support their children despite the challenges they may face in life – I applaud you.
Helping our nation’s fathers and mothers, indeed all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, is something on which the party I lead remains focused. We continue to work on our plan to move Trinidad and Tobago forward, and we will maintain our focus on improving education, creating new opportunities for young people to learn skills with which they could gain sustainable employment, or get into business on their own.
As we mark Father’s Day, we must be mindful that being a father is no easy task, and there will always be challenges. I commend all fathers who, in spite of dealing with their own battles, still have the strength and the will to rise above their challenges, and to sacrifice, work hard so that your children can have what they need.
On this occasion of Father’s Day 2018, on behalf of the Opposition, I extend my best wishes to all fathers, and father figures, of our beloved nation of Trinidad and Tobago.
I thank you for your dedication and devotion to your children and families and I wish for you a very happy and hopefully relaxing Father’s Day.
Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC, MP
Leader of the Opposition
16th June 2019