TOO many Mzansi children are raised by their mums alone.

And this affects how they grow up.

According to a State of South African Fathers Report released by Sonke Gender Justice and the Human Sciences Research Council, children who grow up without their fathers around, have to deal with a more challenging life when they are older.

It says fatherless boys are more likely to behave abnormally compared to kids who grow up with their fathers available and there.

Early bonding gives the child the confidence he needs to develop independently.

The report also shows that a father’s involvement in their children’s lives provides the practical and psychological support they need.

His presence also reduces the stress after birth for both the child as well as the mum.

This role of support from a father adds to a mother’s enjoyment of her parenting.

It also promotes the psychological and physical wellbeing of pregnant women and women with small children.

A father figure boosts self esteem in girls, promotes lower levels of risky sexual behaviour and better chances of having stable relationships later in their lives.

Amanda Rogaly, founder of the parenting portal BabyYumYum – at babyyumyum.co.za – said the cultural myth that kids need to be raised by their mothers only, does not help at all.

“A father’s presence reduces the likelihood of early pregnancy, marrying young and quick divorces.

“Absence is not necessarily defined by physical distance. Many home lives feature a biological parent that is not emotionally part of his children’s lives.”

She said the report showed we need to acknowledge the critical impact a father has on a child’s development, growth and lifelong mental and emotional health.

We know dads are all busy, working long hours and have a lot on their minds, but we need to face the fact that fathers need to be attentive to their kids and give them the time and support they need.

“In this way, we can start to create new possibilities for the fathers of our children and future generations of families in South Africa,” Rogaly said.