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Alex fathers seek new methods of parenting

Peer pressure, unemployment and generational methods of violent discipline have led to frustrated fathers in Alex with no option but to seek new ways of parenting.

A growing number of fathers in Alexandra are looking for better ways to raise their children.

This emerged from a recent Fathers Matter Workshop that was organised by Heartlines in Alexandra.

Alexandra has some of the most densely populated informal settlements in Johannesburg and its residents face issues of unemployment, poverty, poor sanitation and crowded living spaces.

Some of the attendees indicated during the workshop that being absent during the growing up of their children was a big mistake that they would never want to repeat.

Others vowed to show love to their children as the best way of being a father rather than violent discipline. The consensus was if a father beats up his children that would be how those children will raise their own.

Attendee Mandisi Johanse said raising a 15-year-old daughter in the township had forced him to be very strict, which not only affected his relationship with her, but caused him great emotional distress.

Heartlines’ Fathers Matter Workshop attendees listen attentively to one of the speakers. Photo: Supplied

“My relationship with my daughter was very good when she was a child, but when she entered teenage hood and started dating, I was visibly upset as I thought she was still too young. I tried to speak to her about pregnancy and contracting HIV and it never dawned on her,” he said.

“But as a teenager she is constantly being affected by peer pressure and the only way I thought I could get through to her was to beat her up.” He attended the workshop because he was looking for new ways to be a father and was in desperate need of tools to help him on his journey.

“What I appreciate the most is that I learnt that it is important not to give up and that showing love and affection is a better way to father than to resort to violent means of discipline.”

Another attendee Lizwi Johanse said one of the challenges men faced in his community was that they have been heavily influenced by their own relationships with their fathers, which has created a parenting style that was not effective today.

Lizwi, who is expecting his first child in a few months, said he would model his parenting style on his dad, who taught him love and responsibility. “When my mother died she left six children behind to be raised by our father and he became very involved.
“Despite family members putting pressure on him to find a new wife to raise us, he made a firm decision to be a single dad because he knew how he wanted to raise us,” Lizwi said.


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