Father’s Day, And the Reasons Why Africa (Particularly Liberia) Needs Child Support Courts

By Jones Nhinson Williams

Jones Nhinson Williams

Father’s Day is very special to me because of my awesome relationship with my amazing and hardworking father, and more so, because of my rewarding and indescribable relationship with my two wonderful and very intelligent daughters, Mary Courmerssie Williams, 11, and Adel Muthio Williams, 9, who are currently serving as visiting students’ scholars at the George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC)––a NASA lead center for Space Shuttle propulsion and its external tank; payloads and related crew training; International Space Station (ISS)  design and assembly; and computers, networks, and information management located on the Redstone Arsenal near Huntsville, Alabama.

By all accounts, being a dad should be special to any good and decent man who is a father. And, by this I don’t mean just bringing forth a child. Besides, being a good dad does not mean being a rich man or doing a lot for your child or children; it simply means putting your child’s or children’s interest and future above every other thing, and doing your duty.

If one fathers a kid, but hasn’t had much of a role in his or her life for whatever reason, I urge him to step up and embrace his role as a dad to the greatest extent he can. Yes, it is not easy and it’s going to be tough, and of course, it is not always going to be fun, but it is his responsibility. And by the way, being a good man means doing your duty.

The fact is, commonsense suggests that fathers have a natural and moral value in their children’s lives.  Moreover, social science research––sociology, anthropology, psychology etc.––have all proven that fathers have important and irreplaceable role to play in their children’s live. The importance of fathers (according to Science) is vast and unending as revealed by the following:

  1. Children with fathers are less likely to live in poverty
  2. Children with fathers do better in school
  3. Children without fathers are more likely to do jail time
  4. Children with fathers are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol
  5. Children without fathers are more likely to be sexually active as teenagers
  6. Children without fathers are more likely to be obese
  7. Children with fathers get more roughhousing (and roughhousing makes kids awesome)
  8. Children with fathers are more likely to have a larger vocabulary
  9. Children with fathers are more likely to be encouraged to take healthy risks
  10. Children with fathers gain many additional benefits to health and happiness

As fathers, we have serious responsibility and obligation; perhaps, the most solemn duty in any man’s life, and here is why.  A child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all his child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those initial displays of interaction with father are the very configurations that will be projected forward into all relationships.

For instance, girls will look for men who grasp the displays of their good father; after all, they know how “to do that.”  So, if a father was kind, loving, and gentle, they will look and go for those characteristics in men they will want in their lives.  Generally, most girls will look for, in others, what they have experienced and become familiar with in childhood.  Since they have been used to those familial and historic behavioral patterns, they would think that they can handle them in relationships.

Boys, on the other hand, will generally model themselves after their dads. They will seek their father’s approval in everything they do, and copy those behaviors that they recognize as both successful and familiar. Therefore, if a father was or is lazy, rude, abusive, alcohol and drug-addicted, controlling, and dominating, those will be the examples that their sons will copy and outdo.  Nevertheless, if a father was or is hardworking, loving, kind, spiritual, supportive, protective etc., his sons will want to be that.

According to social discoveries, human beings are social animals and we learn by copying behavior. In fact, social scientists unanimously agreed that all primates learned how to survive and function successfully in the world through social imitation. Those early forms of interaction are all children know, and it is those arrangements that conclude how they feel about themselves, and how they mature.  Therefore, as fathers, we need to understand that our child or children are vulnerable to those early relationships and integrate those behavioral potentials in their collection of social exchange.

It is unfeasible to over-estimate the magnitude of a father.  Illustratively, girls who have good relationships with their fathers tend to do better in math (I know this for a fact because my daughters, age 11 and 9, are a living proof and that is why they are selected for a visit at the NASA student program), and boys whose fathers are actively involved in their lives tend to have better grades and do far better on achievement tests.  In short, fathers are central to the outcomes of what their children become.

In many African nations, especially Liberia, some men just fathered children and walked away from their lives for several reasons ––divorce, separation, carelessness, and plain evil.  These deadbeat fathers not only categorically refused to support their child or children, they denied them a roadmap to a better future. Moreover, their actions place serious burdens on women, especially the mothers of their children, with no punitive action.

There are thousands of men in Africa, especially Liberia, who don’t know how their child or children eat, sleep, receive medical care, attend school, or are clothed. These men do these evil things toward their child or children because they can get away with them in societies that have no legal framework to demand obligatory parental support from deadbeat dads.

In the case of Liberia, there are countless men residing in the United States who fathered children before migrating, but these men pretend as if they have no responsibility and obligation back home in Liberia, thereby leaving poor Liberian girls and women to struggle with supporting those kids alone. It is not these men are unable to support their children, they take advantage of the fact that most African nations, particularly Liberia, do not have laws on the books that mandate parental support.  This is precisely why we need a child support court in Liberia, as well as in most African countries so that deadbeat fathers will take responsibility and fulfill their natural and moral obligation to their children.

African countries, and Liberia, need to incorporate child support provisions in court orders and they must enforce those obligations.   Generally, in developed nations, the law presumes that both parents of a child, regardless of whether they are or have been married, have an obligation to support their child. For this reason, countries like the UK, Canada, the United States among others, award child support according to statutory guidelines that must be paid monthly by the noncustodial parent (payor) to the custodial parent (payee).  This can be done easily in Africa, and in Liberia, especially against deadbeat dad who abandoned their child / children when they travel to western countries.

Lastly, when we have a child support court in Liberia, the country, government, and the children of those deadbeat dads will all benefit.  The government can charge a “court collection fee” for every child support payment collected from a father who refuses to take responsibility voluntarily.  This is one way to define a good nation. Africa must act in the interest of children!

About the Author:
Jones Nhinson Williams is a Liberian philosopher (born in Pleebo, Maryland County but hailed from River Gee County) firmly educated by the Catholic Church. He is an American trained public policy, labor market information, strategic management, and workforce development professional with accomplished global experience in job creation and institutional governance.

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About Cholo Brooks 17519 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.