Fathers and other men in the lives of children and families

Date: February 3, 2014
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South Africa has one of the highest rates of father absence in the world. Only about a third of
South African preschool children live in the same homes as their fathers and mothers (Statistics
South Africa, 2011). Nonethless, many fathers support their children and remain in contact with
them despite living apart. For some other children, maternal uncles and grandfathers, as well as
older brothers, assume the role of social fathers, supporting their mothers, providing for
children’s livelihood and education, and giving them paternal love and guidance.
Migrant labour and the resulting fluidity of family life, delayed marriage due to lobola
requirements, gender-based violence and a growing autonomy amongst South African women
are cited as contributors to father absence from households (Posel & Devey, 2006; Richter, et
al, 2010). Father absence is associated with adverse consequences for children, women,
families and men. However, where work patterns and employment have been favourable, there
is evidence of even working class men embracing an engaged form of fatherhood, reading to
their children and taking an interest in their schooling

Publisher: University of Cape Town
Year of Publication: 2012

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