Absent fathers need to be 'more than ATMs'
More than half of South African children live without their fathers
RESEARCH by the University of Johannesburg and non-governmental organisation Sonke Gender Justice found that absent fathers wanted to be more than ATMs to their children.
The research conducted with 40 absent fathers in Alexandra, in Doornkop, Tembisa and Devland in Soweto, shows that fathers are often regarded solely as providers and are not expected to play other roles in their children's lives.
The Centre for Social Development in Africa (CSDA) at UJ and Sonke Gender Justice Network conducted an exploratory study to examine absent fathers' understanding of fatherhood, their perceptions of the causes and consequences of being an absent father and their proposed solutions to this problem.
More than half of South African children live without their fathers.
CSDA's Eddy Mavungu said: "When fathers are involved in their child's care, education and recreation,, and are more emotionally connected, it is more likely that they will also provide financial and material support.
"Men are capable of so much more - but they need to be supported and enabled to do so.
"Mothers, children and fathers will benefit from closer relationships with their children."
According to the researchers the emphasis on fathers' financial contribution is also reflected in practices that require fathers to pay damages or lobola before being accepted as parents and allowed access to their children.
Costs related to lobola and damages have become obstacles preventing these men from being involved in their children's lives.
"These perceptions of fathers solely as providers must be challenged if fathers are to engage more meaningfully with their children and share care responsibilities with mothers," said Desmond Lesejane of Sonke Gender Justice Network.
"While it is imperative that men honour their responsibilities and ensure that they prioritise financial contributions, there are many other ways in which a man can be involved in the life of his children, including ensuring that he treats his partner and children with respect and never uses violence."