The dad fac­tor

GROW­ING UP WITHOUT A FA­THER CAN BE TOUGH - BUT THERE ARE WAYS TO COPE

DRUM - - Hey Teens - KIM By ABRAHAMS

BONGI Mashaba* grew up without a dad. This be­came hard for him to deal with – es­pe­cially dur­ing his teen years, when he bat­tled to work through his emo­tions.

Bongi ex­pressed his anger as sad­ness or dis­ap­point­ment and would never openly speak about his feel­ings. “I was raised by a sin­gle mom and never had a re­la­tion­ship with my fa­ther. I heard his voice for the first time when I was 30. To this day, I’ve never met him face to face,” says the 31 year old. With age, Bongi says he’s learnt to man­age his emo­tions bet­ter.

Cape Town-based clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist Ty­rone Edgar be­lieves chil­dren who grow up without a fa­ther are of­ten less able to cope with their feel­ings. “Such a child may be less con­fi­dent and dis­play more un­con­trolled emo­tions.”

For Bongi, cu­ri­ous ques­tions from his peers were hard to deal with. “Hav­ing to an­swer things like, ‘So where’s your dad?’ and, ‘Why don’t you ever speak about him?’ was dif­fi­cult be­cause I never had any pre­pared an­swers,” he says. “All I knew was a house­hold with my mother and my brother. That was nor­mal for me.”

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