Exploring father-child relationships through the perspectives of young fathers.
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This study explores parent-child relationships from the perspectives of young fathers. Fatherhood is essentially a human, social and cultural role; fatherhood shapes male power consequently, serving as a platform where men express their masculinity. Traditionally fathering concepts have stayed the same throughout the years, with fathers expected to be the breadwinner and primary providers. The aim of the study was to investigate the challenges young fathers face in their journey into fatherhood. Data collection was achieved through ten in-depth interviews with respondents, mainly students between the ages of 18-24 years. Findings suggest that young fathers are interested in playing an active role in their children’s life contrary to previous research findings. It was observed that playing an active role and taking responsibility in their child’s upbringing was imperative to most young fathers, especially for those who grew up without a father. In spite of the fact that Inhlawulo (damages) are still required to be paid by young fathers as damages for placing young girls in a family way, young fathers unable to pay this damages shows enthusiasm to be involved in their children’s development. This demonstrates a dramatic breakaway from past trends where fathers were denied access to children until acknowledgement of paternity as a father. The findings suggest that young fathers strive to provide for their children even though most of them are unemployed and co-parenting with the mothers and in most cases are not in any spousal relationship. It was ascertained that the major problem faced by young fathers is absenteeism from their children, mostly due to their schooling. As a result, most of them end up seeing their children only a few days in a year. Support received from their families make the transition into fatherhood a little easier; therefore they are important support structures for these young men. The father child-relationship is influenced by the relationship the young men had with their own fathers, and the relationship with the mother of their child. More needs to be done for young fathers, especially those who are scared to claim paternity. Society needs to stop seeing them as delinquents who impregnate girls and run away from their responsibilities but rather encourage them to play an integral role in the lives of their child.