The topic of single fathers and the issues surrounding raising children is not often covered in media.Beeld is commended for raising awareness around this topic in the article “Enkelpa: opvoeder, maat én beskermer” (“Single dads: child raiser, companion and protector”, 10/09/09, p. 20), which appeared in its regular section “Pols”. Furthermore, the article is written by Marinél Read, a therapist who has a lot of experience on this topic, and comes with a number of tips which will help single fathers.
Even though the article does not source a single father or a child of a single parent, the article is informed by a children’s rights perspective, and has their best interest as a central theme. It highlights the particular circumstances and difficulties of parenting for single fathers, and provides advice for fathers about how to deal with these.
For example, it shows how single fathers – because of divorce, or because their partner died in often devastating circumstances – are often not ready to raise children on their own. Moreover, they have to deal with gender stereotypes, suggesting that they cannot possibly cope with such a situation.
The article stresses that after the realities of the change have kicked in, it is important for fathers to be practical about matters. It gives useful tips, such as buying a dozen socks for each member of the household in a unique colour, so that the father knows exactly which socks belong to whom, on the basis of their colour.
It is acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding the divorce, or even more tragically, the death of the mother, can be a difficult subject to deal with, and how children can often feel somehow responsible for what happened. It suggests that a therapist can often help to make the children aware that this happened through no fault of their own.
The article acknowledges the unique challenges faced by single fathers, and the many roles that they have to be able to play, as a protector, as a teacher, as a friend who the children can play with, and the person who keeps order and discipline in the household. It also acknowledges that single fathers have to develop their own feminine side, thereby challenging gender stereotypes. For example, it suggests that fathers spend time with their children playing with dolls, take them to hospital for medical checks, or buy clothes with them.
Finally, the article acknowledges that single fathers may find it difficult to cope with stressful situations, and to find a balance between work, raising children, intimacy, spiritual growth and (a lack of) adult company.
By highlighting how single fathers may find it difficult to relax without social support from friends and family, the article serves as a nice reminder to people that helping out single parents, for instance, by babysitting, is an act that will be greatly appreciated.
By informing both the public in general of the issues single fathers face, and providing tips to single fathers, from the perspective of an expert, this article succeeds in raising awareness and promoting support for fathers and children in such a situation. In publishing this article, Beeld supports fathers in their responsibilities towards children and promotes children’s rights. Beeld is lauded for publishing it, and we look forward to seeing more articles of this kind.