By Honoré Gbedze : An academic professional Father of 3 children described fatherhood as being ‘a learning experience; there is no manual that you read to become a parent; it’s something that brings a new challenge every day, just when you think you figured it out something new comes along’.
Clarence Rhambharat stated ‘my Father was the most important influence in my life he left school at a very young age and one thing that struck me in awe of my father is that he had a beautiful handwriting and secondly he started every day reading the newspaper and read it with us. These were strong influences for me. By the time my Dad was 9 years old he was out of school so I was surprised that he had these writing and reading skills. Since then I saw the value of people who know things without having had the privilege of going to formal school. Later on in life my father went onto tertiary studies when he was in his 40’s and then completed his university education’.
Rhambharat said ‘I had to teach my father math, he did well as a student despite the late age of his life. My father was extremely strict and on the other hand he loved sports and the outdoors. As strict as he was if we played sports all day he was ok with that’.
‘You have to set and live the life you want your children to live, added Clarence. ‘One of the problems we have in life is hypocrisy, we have to lead by example. You can’t preach religion to your children if you yourself don’t practice it. If your children are in school there are continual opportunities to learn something and to develop. Faith and education, saving and taking care of yourself financially, dressing and displaying a positive image, we have to lead by example. The things I enjoy, I passionately enjoy and my children see that’.
‘My children often ask me to play xbox with them but I’d rather read for 3 hours and I enjoy it, so I usually tell them while you play xbox I will read. As a parent you have to set the tone at home. Children have to see and know what you expect’.
When Clarence was asked about technology in this current time he advised ‘much has changed in the last decade and as a Father but in fact both parents need to be up to date on the ever changing trends in technology. There was a time when it was accepted that women would do all the cooking and the men would do nothing and there was no shame in a man saying that he can’t cook. Today, we are supposed to both be able to do anything. With technology the parents should know as much as the children know that way you’re aware of what your children are accessing and have access to. There are parental guides that need to be instilled in the family. You have to be an informed parent in order to help and guide your children. You have to be connected to all their involvement including their school and educational values and exposures’.
Rhambharat added ‘it’s difficult to be a parent if you don’t understand technology. For example with social media, Facebook in particular, what are the risks of the social media and are you and your children aware of the dangers and pitfalls. The parents have to know and decide what is appropriate and what is not and promote the good and positive uses of technology. There has to be a balance of use with the current day technology. We have to talk to our children about the usefulness, the distractions and harm that the devices and wide open network can cause. As a parent we have a responsibility to protect our children’.
When asked if there is a difference being a parent in your birth country than in Canada, Clarence said ‘it is easier to be a parent in Canada because there are many opportunities to do positive things which makes parenting easier. For example alcohol distribution is controlled in Canada in my birth country it’s the opposite the same with tobacco and there are some other stronger influences as well. Children in Canada are more inclined to do positive things. In the Caribbean there is a lot of emphasis placed on education, because of the cost of education here there is not such an emphasis placed on education. We have to keep our children very focused on education and skills training. Promoting excellence and achievement is the key to parenting and encouragement to not just pass but to do well’.
‘My children have the benefit of coming from the Caribbean and are descendents of Indian and African heritages. My Grandfather came from India to the Caribbean to work in the sugar cane fields therefore my complete influence is from the Caribbean. My wife’s family came from the era of slavery to the Caribbean but she is a full fletched Caribbean as well. There is still a political rift between Indian and African heritages, my children are spared of this rift as they are a product of both heritages. We have an additional advantage in that they are now a part of a wider spread of diversity here in British Columbia’.
‘We came to Canada deliberately to have a better opportunity in life for us and our children’.
When asked that as a professional and somebody that is making a difference in our society how do you see the future, Clarence had this to say: ‘ Have to look at it 2 ways. I consider myself being in a difficult and protected profession of the country. Lawyers have to do a lot of work in order to practice law in British Columbia. Foreign lawyers who come to Canada are less than 20% of all lawyers in BC because it takes a long time to re-establish oneself as an accredited lawyer to practice law in British Columbia. My first job in British Columbia was teaching law in a college, which is something I still do on a part-time basis. The journey for me has started now as I am now building a legal practice, and I see opportunity to grow my practice and fully practice being a lawyer in BC’.
Rhambharat relayed the following advice:’understand that you are not the first or only person doing what you’re trying to do to achieve. Once you understand that others have been through what you’re going through that is the breakthrough to success. Mentorship is also a key to ones success. I have 18 years experience as a lawyer but only 2 years experience as a lawyer in British Columbia. My children have to move faster and further than me. As a parent I have to also move faster and further. We have to know that we are not alone and that there are people out there who are willing to mentor and guide. You have to be positive and understanding. You need work smart at achieving your success. As immigrants we have to understand that we have to reach out and we can’t sit in a particular community and hope that the world will open doors for us. Being here we came through an open door, we don’t have to worry about barriers, our biggest barriers are usually ourselves’.
‘The most important thing is constantly seeking out ideas and information and being inquisitive and not sitting and blaming. There are times we may feel isolated and perhaps feel like the odd person out, but beyond that we all have a responsibility to ourselves to move forward. I’m proud to have lived a part of my life in another country and even more proud to be living in Canada. I love and cherish this society said Rhambharat.
In closing our interview Clarence’s final words were ‘my wife is my best friend and my advisor. She understands me more than I understand myself. We have a very good friendship we have some things in common and we differ on other things. We have to brief regularly when dealing with our children. Sometimes it’s a one on one with a child and sometime’s it’s both of us having to deal with one or all our children. As a family we have a strong bond and have a mutual respect for each other’.