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Opinion

Dads share the challenges and triumphs of single fatherhood

20 June 2021 2:14 PM
Tags:
Parenting
Single parenting
Sara-Jayne King
weekend breakfast
father's Day
single fathers
Dr Alex Mashifane
Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni
Single Fathers South Africa
Corne Kruger
Father a Nation
Craig Wilkinson

Weekend Breakfast's Sara-Jayne Kings hosts a panel discussion on being a single dad on a special Father's Day edition.

- Dads share their experiences of single parenthood on Father's Day

- South African society still tends to be "mother-focused" when it comes to dealing with parents

-The bulk of the messages posted on Facebook group 'Single Fathers South Africa' are requests for help, also from single mothers

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

There’s no doubt that being a single parent is tough.

And while the majority of solo parents are single mothers, there are a growing number of dads out there going it alone for various reasons.

Meanwhile society tends to be "mother-focused" because childrearing is still seen as the domain of women.

Sara-Jayne King hosts a panel discussion on Father's Day, chatting first to Dr Alex Mashifane who is the single father of two daughters.

He lost his wife in a car accident in 2009 when one daughter was starting Grade 8 and the other Grade 5.

I received the news on the first day of registration at school... It was a normal, sunny day; everybody was happy... it just came down like a ton of bricks.

Dr Alex Mashifane, Single father

It was very difficult and confusing at the beginning he says, but he learned fast.

A few years before the tragdy Dr Mashifane and his wife had attended the School of Practical Philosophy in Pretoria, where grief was one of the topics discussed.

He says what he learned there helped him to focus on what he would need to do to raise his two children.

When you have a wife, two kids and everything is normal it's like a highway that is smooth and everything is running well. Then suddenly the highway ends... Life throws you into the deep end...

Dr Alex Mashifane, Single father

I immediately took up full responsibility for what I'm going to achieve. It does not mean it was not painful - it was painful and it was challenging.

Dr Alex Mashifane, Single father

I realised also that the world out there is not really interested in your pain... and the world is riddled with fear, fear of the unknown.

Dr Alex Mashifane, Single father

Dr Mashifane's daughter says her mother had always taken care of most of the day-to-day responsibilities, so she and her sister were more emotionally invested in their mom.

Things then completely flipped... We emotionally invested in my father because I must say that my dad took up the responsibilities and played both mom and dad.

Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni

So, my relationship with my dad is fantastic. I love him to bits, I feel that I can talk to him about anything because he took the time to get to know us...

Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni

King also chats to the founder of Facebook group Single Fathers South Africa, Corne Kruger.

He's a single dad to an eight-year-old boy.

Kruger says he started the Facebook group to let other parents know there are many single fathers out there willing to communicate.

The bulk of the messages posted are requests for help, also from single mothers.

What we generally don't realise is the amount of work that goes into being a parent. Generally when there are two parents in the house, you don't necessarily feel the brunt of it - you get to consult with another parent and make the best decisions...

Corne Kruger, Founder - Single Fathers South Africa

When you're a single parent, especially a single father, there aren't many groups to turn to.

Corne Kruger, Founder - Single Fathers South Africa

It becomes quite interesting the longer you are a parent because you figure out that you are able to do this very easily even though it sucks! Every single day is unique; every single day is different.

Corne Kruger, Founder - Single Fathers South Africa

Weekend Breakfast also gets input from Craig Wilkinson, founder of NPO Father a Nation (FAN).

The organisation aims to address gender-based violence, crime and fatherlessness by "restoring and equipping men to be nation-builders, fathers and role models".

Listen to the in-depth conversation below (and scroll up for the audio of the panel discussion):




20 June 2021 2:14 PM
Tags:
Parenting
Single parenting
Sara-Jayne King
weekend breakfast
father's Day
single fathers
Dr Alex Mashifane
Tiisetso Mashifane wa Noni
Single Fathers South Africa
Corne Kruger
Father a Nation
Craig Wilkinson

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