Cuba’s Insensitive Fathers

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Being a mother has been the greatest, most beautiful experience of my life. I feel proud of the sacrifices – both joyful and sad – that I’ve had to make over these past 12 years, trying to give my Carlos Adriel the best, shield him from the worst and give him a childhood happier than the one I had.

I’ve learned from my mistakes (as the saying goes: “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”). I didn’t have a father by my side while growing up and I had always wished my son wouldn’t be denied one, knowing the impact that the absence of a paternal figure can have only too well.

Unfortunately, I didn’t choose wisely: after I became separated from Carlos Adriel’s father, he also distanced himself from the child and I was forced to take on his education, upbringing and nourishment all by myself. It was hard for me. At one point, I doubted my strength, asked a psychologist for help and pulled through. Fortunately, those feelings of insecurity are well behind me.

The fact of the matter is that he is never available: neither as a father figure nor as economic support. Though fathers are bound by law to maintain their children in Cuba, I never asked him for anything. It would have accomplished very little, and it was preferable to leave the “virtual” father alone, to spare him something he didn’t want to do.

My son is already a teenager and I know this situation has torn an immense hole in his education and life in general. I know there are many mothers like myself who suffer over the insensitivity of some men.

Not all men are like that. I know some who are exemplary fathers. Those are the ones I commend and admire. Women should nonetheless be wise in their choices, because, ultimately, it is our children who suffer and we along with them.

2 thoughts on “Cuba’s Insensitive Fathers

  • Your situation would be worse in the US where families with absent fathers are relegated to poverty since the nuclear family structure, essential to enforcing capitalism requires a working father .
    Given the fall in wages and the huge unemployment rate in the capitalist U.S. economy, single mothers suffer the most since women are always paid less than men for the same work in the U.S. and the lack of affordable day care makes it extremely stressful and difficult for working single mothers .
    Some 40 million U.S. children suffer from what is euphemistically called “food insecurity” ; the lack of sufficient food to sustain their health and a similar number have no health care insurance .
    The poverty rate in heavily Cuban Miami is 35% .
    Half of all working people in the U.S make less than US$27,000 which in the U.S puts a family of three or four into poverty and this situation is worsening as more and more jobs are permanently lost to globalization and automation of the workforce.
    This disproportionately affects women and especially single mothers. .
    In the U.S single mothers have to deal with their lack of a partner in raising the children AND not having enough to eat, not having sufficient health care coverage not having any sort of affordable day care and, in the U.S,. the stigma of being on welfare which , typical of the oligarchic U.S, is blaming the victims of the failing capitalist economy.

  • Mercedes Gonzalez Amade, it is commendable of you to write such a candid and thoughtful account of your experience as a mother. Yes, when we are young, we often choose unwisely. As an older and experienced social worker, I have experienced both the unwise choices and the life’s lessons that can come from learning from ones mistakes. Cuba continues to go through many changes and potential growth. I wonder if you have ever thought of suggesting classes for young women and men like your son that focus on the benefits and difficulties of choosing partners. It is not easy to teach these things outside of the family, but that is often why the lessons are not learned until too late. People often unconsciously repeat the patterns they observed at home. Sadly without intervention, the negative aspects of relationships are mostly easily copied. I have often wished there were relationship classes starting in grade school and continued through high school. I hope your son benefits from your efforts.

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