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SA’s fathers should rise to the task of healing the nation’s deep paternal wounds - FAN

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File image.

Published Jun 19, 2022

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Johannesburg - In commemoration of Fathers Day, a community organisation has urged South Africa’s men to rise to the task of healing the nation’s deep paternal wounds, which are tied to social ills currently facing the country.

Father A Nation (FAN), an organisation that works to encourage positive masculinity and fatherhood in communities across South Africa, said that fathers are critical to shaping the minds of boys and young men.

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“Family dynamics demonstrate the importance of balanced homes where children have more than one caregiver and the value of the role a father plays in this relationship,” FAN CEO Craig Wilkinson said.

Father A Nation (FAN), a Non-Profit Company, also addresses Gender-Based Violence (GBV), crime and fatherlessness by restoring and equipping men to be nation-builders, fathers and role models.

Meanwhile, Wilkinson believes that broken families leads to a broken nation.

He explained that, in South Africa, about one-fifth (21,3%) of children aged 17 years and under do not live with their parents.

“Teenage pregnancy is rife, and labour migration patterns persist in our country with both men and women leaving rural towns to find work leaving many children to be raised by someone other than their mother or father.”

He added that according to StatsSA, 42% of children in the country live with their mothers only, whereas 4% live with only their fathers. Approximately 64% of children don’t live in the same household as their biological father and are more likely to be raised by a female caregiver.

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In addition, the 2019 General Household survey revealed that household compositions are shaped by the residential patterns of their members and their relationship to one another.

“It is imperative to emphasise the importance of positive male figures, especially the role of a father in a child’s life,” Wilkinson said.

The FAN CEO stressed that redress begins with focusing on what is being done correctly and how to cultivate that in all men and boys.

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“For one thing, men have been at the forefront of numerous endeavours to mobilise communities to improve the role of men in society, GBV and teach boys and men the values of manhood and fatherhood, including our very own FAN.”

“Fathers, uncles and grandfathers who have stepped up and made an example of themselves that others can and should follow need to be applauded and encouraged.”

He added that slowly but surely, men are beginning to step up where they are needed in unprecedented ways.

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“We are seeing more single-fathers, step-fathers and co-parenting fathers showing the many ways we can make fatherhood work in South Africa even in the most difficult circumstances.”

Wilkinson also believes that it may take a village to raise a good father.

“It may seem counter-intuitive to focus on the positive contributions of men in society when violence and abuse at the hands of men is so rife, but redress begins with focusing on what is being done correctly and how to cultivate this in all men and boys.”

“More and more men are getting involved in fighting GBV and teaching boys and men the values of manhood.”

“The message that true masculinity is a powerful force for good and teaching about what that means needs to be driven home at all levels of society – in homes, in communities, and the workplace.”

The FAN CEO said businesses also need to play their part in driving education, awareness, and support for staff who return home as fathers, brothers and sons.

“We have seen the positive impact of working with partners such as Bettabets, whose staff and other stakeholders have participated in our two online courses aimed at helping men stand against GBV and learn about responsible fatherhood, masculinity and manhood”.

He said that migrant labour, teenage pregnancy and other social circumstances have resulted in mostly women being left to raise children.

“When it is not the mother, it is often the grandmother or another female relative.”

FAN believes more fathers are stepping up, as evidenced in the courts, where thousands of fathers are fighting for joint custody or are in mediation for access to their children.

“Most importantly, positive results in the development of children where the father and the mother have been present in their upbringing.”

Meanwhile, according to the United Nations International Children’s Fund (Unicef), men, women and children benefit from engaged, responsive fatherhood and the participation of men in their lives.

“For children, these factors positively affect development outcomes, including physical, socio-emotional and academic development,” Wilkinson said.

“In addition, mothers who are supported by their children’s fathers experience greater satisfaction from their parenting roles, have lower levels of stress and are less likely to suffer mental health problems.”

He also believes that holding men accountable need not take away from this most fundamental need for people to be treated like their feelings matter too.

“There is great potential that can be unlocked in the children who will one-day run this country if they are allowed the foundational nurturing of fatherhood.”

The Saturday Star

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