"The Good and the Bad?" Childhood Experiences with Fathers and Their Influence on Women's Expectations and Men's Experiences of Fathering in Rural Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

By Makusha, Tawanda; Richter, Linda et al. | Fathering, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

"The Good and the Bad?" Childhood Experiences with Fathers and Their Influence on Women's Expectations and Men's Experiences of Fathering in Rural Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa


Makusha, Tawanda, Richter, Linda, Knight, Lucia, Van Rooyen, Heidi, Bhana, Deevia, Fathering


Using qualitative data from Project SIZE--a study that explores child and family well-being in the context of HIV/AIDS and poverty, we interviewed the female caregivers of 20 9- to 10-year-old children and 16 of the father-figures nominated by children. We consider how childhood experiences with fathers are associated with women's expectations and men's experiences of fathering. Data were analysed thematically in pairs of the focal child's caregiver and father-figure. Data from four women who were not paired were analysed individually. Results generally support both the modelling and the compensatory hypotheses to explain intergenerational influences on men's fathering attitudes and behaviour. Our results go a step further to acknowledge that fatherhood is dynamic and, in rural KwaZulu-Natal, it is influenced also by socio-cultural and economic factors, societal expectations, father-mother relationship and individual characteristics of men.

Keywords: fathering, childhood experiences, women's expectations, men's experiences, father-child involvement, South Africa

**********

Despite an increasing literature on fatherhood, there are few studies that have focused on retrospective perceptions of fathering (Dalton, Frick-Horbury, & Kitzmann, 2006; Finley & Schwartz, 2004; Guzzo, 2011; Krampe, 2009; Krampe & Newton, 2006; 2012), with no studies published using data from an African context. This study focuses on adult women and men's experiences with their own fathers or father-figures and explores how these experiences influence women's expectations and men's experiences of fathering in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Ninety-five percent of the population in this study area is Zulu. In this rural area, characterized by high HIV prevalence and low socio-economic status resulting from high rates of poverty and unemployment, a number of distinctive family and household characteristics--albeit not unique or universal--have implications for fatherhood (Hosegood & Madhavan, 2010).

Retrospective understanding of fatherhood is defined as adults' reflections on their relationships with their fathers when they were growing up. North American studies that explore retrospective perceptions of fathering argue that adults' (both men and women) experiences and expectations of fathering are influenced by their relationships and experiences with their own fathers (Doherty, Kouneski, & Erickson, 1998; Guzzo, 2011; Lamb, 2010; Pleck, 2010). Doherty, Kouneski, and Erickson argue that "a father's relationship with his own father may be a factor--either through identifying with his father or compensating for his father's lapses--in contributing to his own role identification, sense of commitment, and self-efficacy as a father" (p. 288).

These views are underpinned by the modelling hypothesis which holds that men who experienced involved fathers when they were growing up tend to see involvement in their children's lives as important and natural, and that men who had less involved fathers usually have less favourable attitudes towards fatherhood (Forste, Bartkowski, & Jackson, 2009). The modelling hypothesis is based on theories of socialization and social learning, which emphasize that an individual's attitudes and behaviours are learned from and modelled upon behaviours of key people in their life (Thorn & Gilbert, 1998). In this regard, children's socialization is influenced by the attitudes and behaviours of their fathers, and when male children are older, their internalised "mental model" of their father influences their own attitudes towards parenting. This acts as a template for their relationship with their children (Nicholson, Howard, & Borkowski, 2008). Consistent with the modelling hypothesis, attachment literature indicates how father-child involvement impacts the parenting practices of the next generation (Belsky, 1999; Bowlby, 1988).

In contrast, the compensatory hypothesis suggests that men who have adverse experiences with their fathers are likely to avoid recreating that experience for their own children by acting differently from their fathers (Daly, 1993; Townsend, 2002).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

"The Good and the Bad?" Childhood Experiences with Fathers and Their Influence on Women's Expectations and Men's Experiences of Fathering in Rural Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.