The dad factor
GROWING UP WITHOUT A FATHER CAN BE TOUGH - BUT THERE ARE WAYS TO COPE
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.”