The perceived impact of absent fatherhood: an exploration of young adults’ experiences of father absence.
Tau, Ramadimetje Gladys.
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Background: South Africa has a high rate of divorce, contributing to the majority of single mothers raising their children in the absence of their fathers. The psychological effects of being raised without a father figure are reportedly debilitating for children and young adults throughout their lifespan. Each parent has a responsibility and a significant role to play in ensuring that his or her child or children are groomed and nurtured in such a way that their holistic psychological needs are fulfilled. However, due to a high proliferation of single-mothered households in societies, these roles appear to be distorted. Significance: Few studies to date have explored the impact of father absence on the wellbeing of children or young adults. Those that have been conducted have mostly been quantitative in nature, failing to explore the subjective experiences of young adults who were raised without their fathers. Therefore, this study sought to bridge that gap by exploring the subjective experiences of young adults raised by single mothers in the absence of their fathers. Method: The study was conducted at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus using both the purposive sampling and snowball sampling of 11 students aged between 19 to 25 years. Due to the qualitative nature of the study design, semi-structured interviews were used to explore the subjective experiences of the participants, and a thematic analysis was used to analyse the data. Results: The results of the study have shown that absent fatherhood can be experienced in two ways namely, positive and negative. On the positive side, it has been revealed that it allows children to be independent and fosters family cohesion in the sense of extended members’ involvement in the upbringing of the children. However, it also has major psychological effects in terms of the individual’s sense of worth, disruption in the family unit and contributes to feelings of abandonment in the child.