Fatherless and father absence are major problems in our society. As we celebrate fathers' day and the commemoration of Youth Day in South Africa
Fatherless and father absence are major problems in our society.
As we celebrate fathers’ day and the commemoration of Youth Day in South Africa I think it’s of paramount importance to also take note of some of the challenges we are facing today, those burning issues which doesn’t affect only children but society as whole.
Fatherless and father absence is a worldwide phenomenon and a worldwide worldwide tendency in communities. Research was done in 21 countries of the world i.e. Brazil, Russia, America, South Africa and other countries.
Fatherhood is socially predominant conception of paternal involvement change over time. Dominant father roles have changed over time from being the moral teacher to having responsibility for bread-winning or being a role model, especially for sons.
South Africa has an exceptionally high number of absent fathers with approximately half of the children in the country living without daily contact with their fathers.
Although a father’s physical presence is not necessary a positive outcome in itself, widespread father absence has detrimental consequences for families and society as a whole.
Responsible fathers who are involved in their children’s lives are beneficial to their children’s development and to building families and societies that better reflect gender equality and protect child rights.
Children need their fathers and want to spend time with them as much as they spend time with their mothers. Children want their fathers’ presence and not the fathers’ presents.
Millions of poor children and teenagers grow up without their biological father, and often when you ask them about it, you hear a repetitive series of male barbarism. You hear teens describe how their dad used to beat up their mom, how an absent father had five kids with different women and abandoned them all.
Yet when you ask absent fathers themselves, you get a different picture. You meet guys who desperately did not want to leave their children, who swear they have tried to be with them, who may feel unworthy of fatherhood but who don’t want to be the missing dad their own father was.
A study of absent fathers was conducted in Johannesburg South Africa and findings from research suggests the widespread father absence is connected to historical, social, economic and cultural context. For the participants, fatherhood was associated with employment.
Most absent fathers who participated in the research were unemployed and lived in poor townships, a social environment that is marginalized from modern mainstream economic activities.
It also appeared that a number of absent fathers experienced difficulties negotiating access to the child because of new relationship the former partner had developed. This is one of the challenges of moving to new relationship following a divorce or break up.
Fathers also indicated that they themselves had no father figure. They mentioned that the absent father is a disadvantage in homes. They expressed their views in words such as: “if there is no father figure, it has a negative influence on the children”, “the absent father is a disadvantage”
Fathers felt that men have lost their way, and now they feel inferior towards women. They express their views in words such as: “our men lost their way”, “men are feeling inferior towards women because women are earning a bigger salary than their husbands”, “some men lost their position in the family”, “men lost their knowledge about their role as father.
Whereas parents in general are not supported as parents by our social institutions, divorced fathers in particular are often devalued, disparaged, and forcefully disengaged from their children’s lives. Researchers have found that for children, the results are nothing short of disastrous, along a number of dimensions:
Diminished self-concept and compromised physical and emotional security: Children consistently report feeling abandoned when their fathers are not involved in their lives, struggling with their emotions and episodic bouts of self-loathing.
Behavioral problems: Fatherless children have more difficulties with social adjustment, and are more likely to report problems with friendships, and manifest behavior problems, many develop a swaggering, intimidating persona in an attempt to disguise their underlying fears, resentments, anxieties and unhappiness.
Truancy and poor academic performance: 71 per cent of high school dropouts are fatherless, fatherless children have more trouble academically, scoring poorly on tests of reading, mathematics, and thinking skills. children from father-absent homes are more likely to leave school at age 16, and less likely to attain academic and professional qualifications in adulthood.
Delinquency and youth crime, including violent crime: 85 per cent of youth in prison have an absent father; fatherless children are more likely to offend and go to jail as adults.
Promiscuity and teen pregnancy: Fatherless children are more likely to experience problems with sexual health, including a greater likelihood of having intercourse before the age of 16, foregoing contraception during first intercourse, becoming teenage parents, and contracting sexually transmitted infection.
Drug and alcohol abuse: Fatherless children are more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and abuse drugs in childhood and adulthood.
Homelessness: 90 per cent of runaway children have an absent father.
Exploitation and abuse: Fatherless children are at greater risk of suffering physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, being five times more likely to have experienced physical abuse and emotional maltreatment.
Physical health problems: Fatherless children report significantly more psychosomatic health symptoms and illness such as acute and chronic pain, asthma, headaches, and stomach aches.
Mental health disorders: Father-absent children are consistently over-represented on a wide range of mental health problems, particularly anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Life chances: As adults, fatherless children are more likely to experience unemployment, have low incomes, remain on social assistance, and experience homelessness.
Future relationships: Father-absent children tend to enter partnerships earlier, are more likely to divorce or dissolve their cohabiting unions, and are more likely to have children outside marriage or outside any partnership.
Mortality: Fatherless children are more likely to die as children, and live an average of four years less over the life span.
The father figure in the family has to adopt and implement a strategy of supportiveness and physical involvement, all of which is meant to ensure healthy relations with the family. Using this strategy, the father will have sound relations with his family.
Furthermore, fathers should know that it is important to recover and to restore the original meaning of what it is to be a man and father, and as such, to represent the image of God in a world hungry and in desperate need of virtuous and involved fathers.
In addition, fathers have the ability and willpower to make a difference and to have an impact on the family because they lay the foundation on which future relationships are built. Thus, a change for the better in terms of the greater involvement of fathers will also portray the true meaning of family to society, as God intended it to be.
As in many countries, having an involved father living at home can make a big difference in the life of a young child in South Africa. For one, the household in which they grow up is likely to be better off their mother is likely to feel affirmed and assisted in her role.