Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saluting Single Fathers Working Tirelessly for Their Kids

Sphiwe Masilela

Have you ever thought of how you would have turned out if you were raised by a single father? There are many kids who have and are being raised by their fathers. While there is no substitute for that motherly love, they say they could have not asked for more given their circumstances.

In January alone, the national office of the family advocate which aids families in legal arguments relating to children opened more than 1400 parental rights cases from fathers wanting greater access to their children. And this is proof that there are good fathers out there who are taking responsibility for their actions. Although there are challenges along the way in raising their children, most fathers say playing both father and mother roles was challenging. But it is a role they would not trade for the world.

And the kids say their fathers have worked hard to fill the void left by their mothers.

A 51 year old, Paki Joseph Mashego, has two children – a boy and a girl.

He said there were plenty of challenges but the outstanding one was when his daughter got involved in relationship and he did not know how to advise her.

“I did not get any assistance from anyone. And the challenges were hard for me but I had to be strong for the sake of the kids. I wanted them to have a better future than me. I had to balance our finance, work and time for my kids. I also have to go to school and see how they are coping,” Mashego said.

Mashego, who works as a bus driver, said he was proud to announce that his daughter is now a policewoman and his son a paramedic.

“My daughter was open with me. She could call and ask me for toiletries because she understood that her mother was not there to take responsibility.”

Refiloe Mthembu was raised by her father and has fond memories of her upbringing.

She said her father was a straight talker and that is what she admires most about him.

“He is candid and he doesn’t pretend and I think I took my honesty from him because if I do not like or want something, I say it,” Mthembu said.

She said she wished she had a relationship with her mother too. Not because her dad was not doing enough but because her mother’s presence would have complemented the love.

Fathers4Justice is a rights organisation with at least 34000 members across South Africa. It campaigns for children to have joint and equal maintenance and contact with both parents.

It also provides fathers – and mothers – with legal and psychological advice and referrals to support groups.

Fathers4Justice takes a hard line on what it calls “outdated legal practices” that automatically gives custody to mothers.

A 2011 study by the Institute of Race Relations revealed that 48% of South Africa’s children grow up without their fathers. Against this backdrop, the rise in fathers who fight for their rights is being viewed as a significant step toward parental equality.

It is imperative that fathers take responsibility for their actions all throughout the land.

Happy Fathers’ Day!

* The article first appeared on The New Age newspaper on Friday the 14th June 2012

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