If one reads some of the essays submitted in a FATHER’S DAY competition one cannot but wonder about the nature of the love-hate relationship many teenagers have with their dads. Some love, some hate, some do or have done both, at different times. The reality that matters is that there is a relationship.  It may have been good in earlier years and gone sour during the rumbustious teenage time.

  • One teen wrote, “My dad has made me laugh, made me cry, wiped my tears, hugged me tight, watched me succeed, seen me ail, cheered me on, kept me going strong and driven me crazy.
  • Another wrote, “if I could get another chance : another dance with him. I’d play a song that would never end, because I’d love to dance with my father again. (After his death.)
  • A girl wrote, “I yearn to call someone my father. I crave your affection. How I wish I wish I was daddy’s little girl.  He is the reason I lost hope. The pain is already numb, because it has been lasting for so long.
  • A boy wrote, “I know my father can’t be perfect. I just wanted a father who would love me. I guess I wanted too much.” 
  • “My favourite time to see my dad, is when he’s standing. Though he is faced with and aware of many of the world’s terrible realities, he’s found his stance in their opposition.”  

Fatherhood is a popular subject for discussion and research these days. The research clearly indicates that dads do have an important positive role to play in their children’s lives, in infancy, childhood, teenage and adulthood too.   Research has indicated that 65% of children in SA in act do not have a dad present in their growing years although most dads are alive and living elsewhere.  There are many different situations and many reasons, death, divorce, split families, a teenage pregnancy that did not involve the dad and more.

Some pros and cons for teens of a supportive father. International and local research on children’s development suggests that the presence of a father can contribute to cognitive development, intellectual functioning, and school achievement. Children growing up without fathers are more likely to experience emotional disturbances and depression. Girls with their fathers are more likely to have higher self-esteem, lower levels of risky sexual behaviour, and fewer difficulties with romantic relationships later in life. They have less likelihood of an early pregnancy, bearing children outside marriage, marrying early, or getting divorced. Boys growing up in absent father households are more likely to display ‘hypermasculine’ behaviour, including aggression. The influence of a father is both indirect and direct. The indirect influence includes support for the mother as well as influencing all major decisions regarding health, well-being and education of children. A father’s influence is direct in terms of educational level or length of time spent in school, educational achievement, self-confidence, especially among girls, as well as adjustment and behaviour control among boys.

Physically absent fathers may still be emotionally present in their children’s lives while physically present fathers can be emotionally absent.  Thus the emotional availability and involvement of a father in a child’s life can be more important than the physical presence of fathers in the household.   SAIRR 2011 report.

Fathers are not always supportive, many can be abusive.  Whatever the circumstances or their reasons, young people during their adolescent years often long to find, meet and know their real father.

Statistics show that 40% of SA girls will have been pregnant before the age of 19, maybe twice.  Teenage boys are likely to be excluded making this a major reason for father absence.  There are many issues, social, moral and spiritual too involved in this complicated reality.  A programme for teenage parents REBUILDING DREAMS is offered by SAVF/FAMNET in Gauteng and one worth sharing with its non-judgemental positive approach aiming at what is best for all. All need to ask “What is best for the baby? Who is best able to make the decisions?  Does Dad matter? ”                                                                                     TROWLAND  FAMILY WEEKLY 13 JUNE 2018.                                      Contacts:  SAVF/FAMNET: www.savf.co.za                                              Visit www.radioveritas.co.za to listen to podcast of interview by Toni Rowland with Erna Rheeder

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