Parenthood

Parenthood

Grace and peace to you …

I went to the Book launch of 21 at 21 The Coming of Age of a Nation on Thursday evening. Written by Melanie Verwoerd and Sonwabiso Ngcowa who travelled across the country collecting the life stories of people born in 1994 — the year of our Democracy. At the launch it was mentioned that so many of the young people interviewed had mentioned their ambition to be a “good parent one day”.

One chapter in the book is entitled: I want to be a good dad one day — the life of Marcellino Fillies. Here is some of his story:

“Ja, it was a bit tough when I was young,” he says. “We moved around a lot. I was born in Mitchells Plain, then we moved to Lentegeur, then to Delft, then back to Lentegeur, then to Strandfontein, and then … back to Lentegeur and then to Heideveld.” “Why did you move so often?” He shakes his head and his broad smile disappears. “My dad died when I was three.” “What happened?” I ask gently. “Well, my father also did not grow up with his dad. He had a stepdad. I recently went to see my dad’s stepdad and he told me that my dad was on the boats — fishing, you know — and there was a fight between him and another man. They fought, and then someone threw my dad overboard … they found his clothes a long time afterwards, but not his body. The fish had eaten his body.” I look slightly horrified; he responds quickly, “So I never knew him. You know, I have no memory. I don’t even have any photos.”

[He then shares briefly about his stepfather and the subsequent breakup between his mom and stepfather.]

“That time was very, very tough. My brother was about three or four years old and I was about seven. My mum had to work to provide for us. She would go into Cape Town every day and only come home very late at night. So I had to look after Ethan. After school at around five o’clock, I would go and fetch him at his crèche. We would walk home. I would make him supper, wash him, play with him, and then put him to bed. In between, I would try and do my homework. Then after eight o’clock, my mum would come home.”

As Melanie so insightfully pointed out at the launch — Marcellino who wants to be a good dad one day — has already been a good dad. He was a good dad at age 7.

On this Father’s Day we pray for the children who themselves are fathers to their siblings in countless child-headed homes.

Grace and peace, Alan


MenCare: Involved fatherhood leads to gender equality and child development, 16 June 2015, Nairobi.

Encouraging and supporting fathers to play bigger roles in the lives of their children through innovative global health and social initiatives is vital if real gender equality is to be achieved, finds a new MenCare report, State of the World’s Fathers (SOWF).

“Despite the fact that around 80% of the world’s men and boys will become fathers in their lifetime, engaging men in caregiving is only just beginning to find its way onto the global gender equality agenda,” says Wessel van den Berg, Child Rights and Positive Parenting, Sonke Gender Justice.

The SOWF report reveals long-lasting disparities in Africa where women do more unpaid care work than men, which negatively affects women and girls. However, 55 percent of African countries do provide paternity leave, which is higher than the global percentage (47 percent), but the uptake falls short.

The landmark SOWF report reveals that women continue to spend between twice and 10 times longer than men caring for a child or elderly person. These inequalities persist despite the fact that women today make up 40% of the formal global workforce and half of the world’s food producers. While improving year on year, men’s caregiving has not kept pace with women’s overall participation in the job market, and caregiving dynamics across Africa reflect this imbalance. Men’s presence at prenatal care also ranges vastly – from 14 to 86 percent.

One woman dies every 2 minutes from complications associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Across the globe, 34 of 1,000 babies alive at birth, die before the age of 1, and 46 of 1,000 die before the age of 5.

The involvement of fathers before, during, and after the birth of a child has been shown to have positive effects on maternal health behaviors, women’s use of maternal and newborn health services, and fathers’ longer-term support and involvement in the lives of their children.”

A recent analysis of research from low- and middle-income countries found that male involvement was significantly associated with improved skilled birth attendance, utilization of post-natal care, and fewer women dying in childbirth.”

For more information see Sonke Gender Justice: www.genderjustice.org.za

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