OVER THE YEARS, I’ve seen the challenges faced by single mothers and friends who find themselves shouldering the responsibilities of parenthood while the fathers of their children are absent.
This has stirred my conscience, and I believe it’s time we address the matter head-on.
In this article, I delve into the reasons, as well as consequences, of why men flee their responsibilities, and argue for a change in how society and the government approach the issue.
I also touch on the idea of legally denying parental rights to men who abandon their responsibilities.
UNDERSTANDING SOME REASONS
– Fear and Panic: One of the primary reasons men may flee after impregnating a woman is fear and panic.
The prospect of fatherhood can be daunting, and some men may not feel emotionally or financially prepared to take on this responsibility.
– Lack of Commitment: In some cases, the relationship between the man and the woman may not be built on a solid foundation of commitment.
This lack of commitment can lead to a lack of willingness to navigate the challenges of parenthood together.
– Societal Pressures: Societal expectations and stereotypes about masculinity can also play a role. Some men may feel that admitting to fathering a child out of wedlock is seen as a failure or a loss of social status.
– Financial Stress: Financial strain can be a significant factor. Some men may believe that they cannot afford to support a child and may choose to run away instead of facing this responsibility.
– Emotional Toll on Women: Women left to raise a child alone often experience a range of emotions, including anger, sadness, and betrayal. The emotional toll can affect their mental and physical well-being.
– Financial Hardship: Single mothers may face financial difficulties as they are solely responsible for the financial support of their child. This can lead to reduced opportunities for the child and increased stress and hardship for the mother.
– Impact on Child Development: Growing up without the emotional and financial support of both parents can have a profound impact on a child’s development.
In their book ‘Growing Up With A Single Parent’, authors Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur extensively examine and show that children raised in single parent households may face a higher risk of various challenges, including lower educational attainment and behavioural issues.
– Strain on Government Resources: When fathers do not fulfil their financial responsibilities, there can also be an increased strain on government resources as social welfare programmes may need to step in to support single mothers and their children.
The idea of legally denying parental rights to men who abandon their responsibilities is complex and controversial.
While it may seem like a straightforward solution to address the issue, it raises several ethical and legal questions.
– Due Process: Denying parental rights without due process could infringe on the rights of the individuals involved.
It is essential to ensure that any legal measures taken are fair and just.
– Child’s Best Interests: The primary consideration in matters of child custody and parental rights should always be the best interests of the child.
Legal decisions should be made with the child’s well-being in mind.
– Enforcement Challenges: Implementing and enforcing such measures can be challenging.
Determining when a man should be denied parental rights and under what circumstances would require a careful and nuanced legal framework.
– Rehabilitation and Support: Instead of outright denial of parental rights, some argue that efforts should be made to encourage responsible fatherhood.
This could include mandatory parenting classes, counselling, and financial support.
Men who run off after impregnating women create challenging situations with far-reaching consequences.
Understanding the reasons behind this behaviour is crucial for addressing the issue effectively.
Philosopher Donald Hubin, who has written extensively on fatherhood, notes that while the idea of legally denying parental rights may seem like a solution, it requires careful consideration to ensure it aligns with principles of justice, fairness, and the best interests of the child.
Alternative approaches that encourage responsible fatherhood and support single mothers may also be worth exploring as part of a comprehensive solution to this complex issue.
- Harmony Muyenga is a primary school language teacher at Tsumeb. This article is written in his personal capacity