Do single dads get enough support?
By Katlyn Eriksen
London, Oct. 23, 2019 (AltAfrica)– A single parent is a person who lives with a child or children and who does not have a wife, husband or live-in partner. A single parent may have either sole custody of the child or joint physical custody, where the child lives part-time with each parent.
Often times, issues and discussions relating to single parents have mostly centered around single mum, this most time without a thought for single dads, men who found themselves in similar situation
Single parents are becoming more common around the world and Africa is no exception. Rising rates of divorce, separation, and couples having kids outside of marriage are some of the reasons for the rise in single parents.
In South Africa, an estimated 60% of kids grow up with a single parent, according to a research by the Human Sciences Research Council and the South African Race Relations Institute.
If men become single parents, they also face several barriers. Without proper support from society and the protection the law gives, single dads can find it difficult to fulfil family duties and responsibilities.
Recognizing the Rights of Fathers
Part of the problem lies in the fact that the playing field is not at all leveled when it comes to the rights of fathers. For example, the Children’s Act of South Africa, like most African countries states that even after a divorce, the biological father has full parental rights to his offsprings unless a court decrees otherwise.
Unfortunately, unmarried fathers do not have this right. Women usually become single parents de facto. Men also say that although they want to be involved in raising their kids, this often comes at a financial cost – to file for petitions or fight court orders. Even being named as the father is also a problem, if unmarried.
Support Groups for Single Parents
Single parents often turn to their immediate family and friends for support. It’s also helpful to join a support group to share experiences with others who are undergoing through similar changes in their lives.
Countries such as South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya generally have support groups or associations for single parents. They may offer several programs and family-friendly activities including discussions, exercise, yoga, and even meditation.
Studies show that being a single dad can increase the risk of dying prematurely compared to single moms, so it is beneficial to enlist as much help to cope with the stress and anxiety of solo parenting.
Time Off as a Single Parent
Another issue that prevents men from participating in raising their child is that they are often viewed as breadwinners. The good thing is that nowadays, men, like women, can also take time off from work.
Paternity leave is available in some African countries such as South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Gambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, offering three days to two weeks of paid leave when becoming a parent or adopting. This is expected to get better in the future as more countries recognize the rights of men in parenting including granting access to government aid and services.
Children Benefit from Having a Father in their Life
A Princeton University study indicated that a boy raised by a single mom is two to three times more likely to end up in jail before reaching 30 years old than boys who grow up with a father in the household.
Moreover, girls raised by a single mother are five times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers compared to girls growing up with the influence of their biological father. Kids need a father figure in their lives whether as part of a one or two-parent household. Above all, they will benefit most from having nurturing, supportive, and loving people in their lives.
Being a single dad can be a difficult situation or transition. However, with the right support and assistance, raising kids on your own as a single dad can prove to be fulfilling.