Reassessing methods of fatherhood

Active and engaged fatherhood is a contributing factor to a positive society and with Father’s Day having just been celebrated, Mosaic is encouraging fathers to initiate practical tips to build bonds and break gender stereotypes.

Wynberg-based Mosaic is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that works to prevent and reduce abuse and domestic violence.

“Engaged fatherhood and men’s participation in the lives of children have positive outcomes for children, women and men themselves,“ says Kerryn Rehse, Mosaic’s advocacy, policy and research officer.

“In addition, studies have shown that an engaged and responsive father can reduce the risk for the use of violence and corporal punishment in the home and in communities because the concept of fatherhood in South Africa reflects an extended network of social relationships between men and children, which includes ‘social fathers’ such as uncles, grandfathers, step-parents etc.”

To help fathers in become more involved and active in the lives of their children, Mosaic is offering sensitisation workshops for men and boys to prepare them to become better fathers, this way they are not only assisting fathers but they are also promoting gender equality. These workshops offer sessions that are focused on communication skills and enables practical conflict resolution skills.

The aim of the workshop is to enable a society where men and women can co-exist and have a positive influence on their children. They would like to encourage all men to take the responsibility of their children upon themselves and not simply “just become another ATM”, creating a false perception of what a father should be.

Mosaic has implemented practical ways in which fathers can be more involved emotionally in the lives of their children.

They have suggested that fathers distribute their work equally, allowing time for work and still being a present father, doing more care work, enabling skin-to-skin contact, changing nappies or simply preparing formula while the mother takes some “me-time”.

Or, simply get to know your child by taking interest in how their day was at school or finding out what their favourite kinds of foods are, the organisation advises.

“A gender-transformed model of fatherhood makes for more enriching father-child bonds and healthier family relations while freeing fathers from the narrow and toxic ideas of what it means to be a father,” Ms Rehse says.