Fathers experiences of single parenting
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Fathers, specifically in South Africa, are generally stereotyped as either absent, deadbeat fathers who do not play an active role in their children's lives or as being present traditional breadwinners and authoritative fathers. The latter has given rise to the ideology that fathers are unable to construct nurturing and care giving roles normally associated with the mother's role. This study documents the unique lived experiences of six single fathers residing in the Cape Metropole area, and their roles as primary care givers to their children. Social Constructionism Theory and Hegemonic Masculinity Theory were applied as theoretical frameworks against which these fathers views and experiences were analysed. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore and describe the lived parenting experiences of single fathers solely rearing their children. In-depth interviews, using a semi-structured interview guide, were conducted with six single fathers, who met the eligibility criteria of the study. The data was analysed using thematic analysis. Four themes emanated from this study, namely single fathers' definition of being a father; single fathers' parenting experiences; parenting roles taken on by single fathers; and personal perceptions about being a single father. Furthermore, according to the findings, it is suggested that these single fathers faced many challenges and stresses in their roles as single parents, including adverse social and personal struggles when going against traditional masculine roles and fulfilling a more nurturing motherly role. Despite all these barriers and challenges, they were able to construct an alternative masculinity when taking on untraditional roles. This research will be valuable to future researchers and practitioners working in the field of fatherhood as it will provide guidance in developing understanding and interventions for this population group.