Story telling: a way to encourage dadsCommon Good
In South Africa, for every 8 hours of unpaid childcare work done by women, only 1 is done by men. There are so many factors influencing this, many of which are covered in our second webinar on Fatherhood, the Church and the First Thousand Days (watch here). At Sikunye, we know that positive, active and engaged fathers have an important and long term impact on the child and the mother. So what can we do to see that statistic of child care change?
One of the things we can do to see increased engagement by fathers is to re-narrate what fatherhood is. Unhelpful stereotypes about fatherhood are all over, telling us all what dads do and what they don’t do. And these are often reinforced by others (whether family members or friends). An example is how dads might be asked if they are babysitting their children when mom is out. A simple question like that sends the message that a dad is not really parenting, just babysitting.
These stereotypes can be challenged by storytelling. The more we can see and hear examples of what positive, engaged fathering looks like, the previously unchallenged stereotypes can be scrutinized. We test our assumptions and can be more open to new ways of doing things. This is where #1000DayDads comes in.
This social media campaign was all about getting fathers to submit pictures, stories or video of them being active and involved fathers in the lives of their young children. Every child in the First Thousand Days of life (from conception to 2 years) needs 5 ‘building blocks’ for effective brain development: nutrition, health, stimulation, a sense of safety and love (responsive caregiving). Dads can be part of providing these building blocks during this time period – and we wanted fathers around the country to show us all how they do it.
You can watch the 36sec compilation on our Youtube Channel.
The #1000DayDads giveaway winner
Various contributors from different dads across the country were put into a random number generator. The winner of the R3000 hamper giveaway was Thabiso with baby Nyakallo. He writes,
“My wishes for her is to see her grow old and healthy more especially now during this pandemic and eventually being independent. And doing what she loves and finding joy in life. I think she’s gonna be a doctor but her mother believes otherwise. She still can’t say clear words but she can surely say ‘doctor’ so maybe that’s her destiny!”
Thank you, Thabiso, for showing us what active, positive fathering looks like in the First Thousand Days.
Tell more stories
If you are part of a church, we encourage you to find ways to tell more stories of how men are playing an active role in their young child’s life. We can make it normal for dads to be providing nurturing care. Let’s re-narrate the stories in our households, in our churches and in our communities. We can bring new conversations to the front of how can dads become more active in caring for their young children.
Together, we can be writing new stories about South Africa’s fathers and South Africa’s children.