Advertisement

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 536–545 | Cite as

Silence in Young Womens’ Narratives of Absent and Unknown Fathers from Mpumalanga Province, South Africa

  • Mzikazi NdunaEmail author
  • Yandisa Sikweyiya
Original Paper

Abstract

Research suggests that South African youth use silence as a sign of respect and gratitude and to maintain family and kinship bonds. There has not been much research to help us better our understanding of this phenomenon. This paper explores the strategic use of silence in narratives of absent fathers collected from the Mpumalanga province. Twenty-one-hour, one-on-one, fieldworker-respondent, semi structured interviews in their local languages, were conducted with women aged 15–26 years old. Interviews were gender-matched, audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and translated into English. Thematic, and some elements of discourse analysis, were used to analyse the data focusing on motivations behind silence in familial relationships. Findings show that motivations for upholding silence within the home were to show respect and gratitude, and avoid upsetting a bothersome mother. The dynamics of silence reported here are similar to those found in narratives of psychological distress and abuse among young South Africans. A novel theme was that of avoiding speaking with a chronically ill mother lest this made her condition worse and recovery difficult. This research suggests a need to equip young women with ways of expressing themselves within families without fear of being seen as disrespectful, ungrateful and a burden to others.

Keywords

Absent father Psychological distress Silence Young women South Africa 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We are grateful to the XXXICP2012 for the CHANGE Fellowship fund, the Jacobs Foundation, the National Research Foundation of South Africa and IUPsyS. We thank the study participants for their time and contribution of data. We thank the members of the research team, Grace Khunou, Thandeka Mdletshe, Vuyani Pambo, Tidimalo Padi, Motlalepule Nathane-Taulela and Priscilla Gerrand for support in the execution of this study.

References

  1. Berends, L. (2011). Embracing the visual: Using timelines with in-depth interviews on substance use and treatment. Qualitative Report, 16(1), 1–9.Google Scholar
  2. Clowes, L., Ratele, K., & Shefer, T. (2013). Who needs a father? South African men reflect on being fathered. Journal of Gender Studies. doi: 10.1080/09589236.2012.708823.
  3. Cluver, L., Operario, D., Lane, T., & Kganakga, M. (2011). “I Can’t Go to School and Leave Her in So Much Pain”: Educational shortfalls among adolescent ‘Young Carers’ in the South African AIDS epidemic. Journal of Adolescent Research. doi: 10.1177/0743558411417868.
  4. Dahlgren, L., Emmelin, M., & Winkvist, M. (2004). Qualtitative methodology for international public health. Umea: Print and Medica, Umea University.Google Scholar
  5. Datta, K. (2007). “In the eyes of a child, a father is everything”: Changing constructions of fatherhood in urban Botswana? Women’s Studies International Forum, 30(2), 97–113. doi: 10.1016/j.wsif.2007.01.005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Denis, P., & Ntsimane, R. (2006). Absent fathers: Why men don’t feature in stories of families affected by HIV/AIDS in Kwazulu-Natal? In L. Richter & R. Morrell (Eds.), Baba: Men and fatherhood in South Africa (pp. 237–249). Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
  7. Doumbo, O. K. (2005). It takes a village: Medical research and ethics in Mali. Science, 307, 679–681.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Emanuel, E. J. (2004). Ending concerns about undue inducement. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, 32, 100–105.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. George, A., & van den Berg, H. (2011). The Experience of psychosocial stressors amongst adolescent learners. [Research Article]. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 21(4), 521–526.Google Scholar
  10. Grady, C. (2001). Money for research participation: Does it jeopardize informed consent? American Journal of Bioethics, 1(2), 40–44. doi: 10.1162/152651601300169031.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hall, S. G. (1904). Adolescence: Its psychology and its relation to physiology, anthropology, sociology, sex, crime, religion and education (Vol. 1 & 2). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  12. Holborn, L. (2011). Fractured families: A crisis for South Africa. SAIIR Fast Facts, 4(April), 2.Google Scholar
  13. Jewkes, R., Sikweyiya, Y., Nduna, M., Jama Shai, N., & Dunkle, K. (2012). Motivations for, and perceptions and experiences of participating in, a cluster randomised controlled trial of a HIV-behavioural intervention in rural South Africa. Culture, Health & Sexuality: An International Journal for Research, Intervention and Care. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2012.717305.
  14. Kironde, S., & Klaasen, S. (2002). What motivates lay volunteers in high burden but resource-limited tuberculosis control programmes? Perceptions from the Northern Cape province, South Africa. The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, 6(2), 104–110.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Langa, M. (2010). Adolescent boys’ talk about absent fathers. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 20(4), 519–526.Google Scholar
  16. Lelkes, Y., Krosnick, J. A., Marx, D. M., Judd, C. M., & Park, B. (2012). Complete anonymity compromises the accuracy of self-reports. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48(6), 1291–1299. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2012.07.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Madhavan, S., Townsend, N. W., & Garey, A. I. (2008). ‘Absent breadwinners’: Father-child connections and paternal support in rural South Africa. Journal of Southern African Studies, 34(3), 647–663. doi: 10.1080/03057070802259902.PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Makiwane, M., Makoae, M., Botsis, H., & Vawda, M. (2012). A baseline study on families in Mpumalanga. Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria: Human and Social Development, Population Health, Health Systems and Innovation, CeSTii.Google Scholar
  19. Manyatshe, L. (2013). Why mothers won’t tell: Narratives of factors that influence maternal non-disclosure of biological paternal identity. Johannesburg: MA Research, University of the Witwatersrand.Google Scholar
  20. Mathews, S., Loots, L., Sikweyiya, Y., & Jewkes, R. (2012). Sexual Abuse. In A. Van Niekerk, S. Suffla, & M. Seedat (Eds.), Crime, Violence and Injury in South Africa: 21st Century Solutions for Child Safety (pp. 84–96). Houghton: Psychological Society of South Africa.Google Scholar
  21. Mbatha, K. (2012). Social support among black African women who have recently given birth: The narratives of postnatal women. New Voices in Psychology, 8(1), 3–16.Google Scholar
  22. Meduric, H. C., & Nel, J. A. (2011). Breaking the Silence: the stories of men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse. New Voices in Psychology, 7(2), 111–127.Google Scholar
  23. Morrell, R. (2006). Fathers, fatherhood and masculinity in South Africa. In L. Richter & R. Morrell (Eds.), Baba: Men and fatherhood in South Africa (pp. 13–25). Cape Town: Human Sciences Research Council.Google Scholar
  24. Morrell, R., & Richter, L. (2006). Introduction. Cape Town: HSRC Press.Google Scholar
  25. National Department of Health. (2003). Summarised version of Policy Guidelines for Youth & Adolescent Health. Pretoria: Government Printer.Google Scholar
  26. National Department of Social Development. (2011). Green Paper on Families: Promoting Family Life And Strengthening Families In South Africa. Pretoria: Parliamentary Monitoring Group.Google Scholar
  27. Nduna, M. (2010). Distress and dating in Butterworth, the Eastern Cape, South Africa. In O. Obono (Ed.), A Tapestry of human sexuality in Africa (pp. 87–104). South Africa: Fanele, an imprint of Jacana Media (PTY) Ltd.Google Scholar
  28. Nduna, M. (Accepted). Factors that hinder the disclosure of the biological identity of a father to a child: South African mothers’ perspective. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy.Google Scholar
  29. Nduna, M., & Jama, N. (2001). Steps to sexual equity. Siyaya! An Idasa publication, Winter, 2001(8), 32–33.Google Scholar
  30. Nduna, M., & Jewkes, R. (2011a). Silence: A strategy to deal with psychological distress among young people in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Vulnerable Child and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy and Care, 6(4), 360–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nduna, M., & Jewkes, R. (2011b). Undisclosed paternal identity in narratives of distress among young people in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 20(3), 303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nduna, M., & Jewkes, R. (2012a). Denied and disputed paternity in teenage pregnancy: topical structural analysis of case studies of young women from the Eastern Cape Province. Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies, 38(2), 314–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nduna, M., & Jewkes, R. (2012b). Disempowerment and distress in the lives of young people in Eastern Cape, South Africa. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 21, 1018–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Nduna, M., Jewkes, R., Dunkle, K. L., Jama Shai, N., & Colman, I. (2013). Prevalence and factors associated with depressive symptoms among young women and men in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25(1), 43–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Nduna, M., Kasese-Hara, M., Ndebele, M., & Pillay, N. (2011). Prevalence and Characteristics of Unresolved Paternal Identity in Families of a South African Community. Journal of Psychology in Africa, 21(4), 589–594.Google Scholar
  36. Okello, E. S. (2006). Cultural explanatory models of depression in Uganda. PhD, Makerere University, Uganda. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/123456789/100 Available from Makerere University Research Repository-Karolinska University Press Theses and Dissertations (Medical) database.
  37. Patterson, W., Dohn, H., Bird, J., & Patterson, G. (1983). Suicide Assessment: SAD PERSONS. Psychsomatics, 24, 343–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Phaswana, E. D. (2003). Experiences of rural Black South African adolescents who never met their own biological fathers. Magister Educationis Mini-Dissertation, Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg.Google Scholar
  39. Polela, M. (2011). My father, my monster: A true story. Auckland Park, Johhanesburg: Jacana Media.Google Scholar
  40. Sands, R. G. (2004). Narrative analysis: A feminist approach. In D. K. Padgett (Ed.), The qualitative research experience (pp. 48–78). Toronto: Thomson, Brooks/Cole.Google Scholar
  41. Sikweyiya, Y., & Jewkes, R. (2009). Force and temptation: Contrasting South African men’s accounts of coercion into sex by men and women. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 11(5), 529–541.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Statistics South Africa: Census 2001. (2004). Concepts and definitions. In Statistics South Africa (Report no. 03-02-26, Version 2). Pretoria: Statistics South Africa.Google Scholar
  43. Swartz, S. (2009). IKASI: The moral ecology of South Africa’s township youth. Johannesburg: Wits University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Townsend, N. W., Madhavan, S., & Garey, A. I. (2005). Father presence in rural South Africa: Incorporating social connection and life course experience. Paper presented at the 2005 Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Marriott Hotel, Loews Philadelphia Hotel, Philadelphia, PA. http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p21047_index.html.
  45. Wood, K. (2003). An ethnography of sexual health and violence among township youth in South Africa. Doctor of Philosophy, University of London, London.Google Scholar
  46. Wood, K., Maforah, F., & Jewkes, R. (1998). “He forced me to love him”: Putting violence on adolescent sexual health agendas. Social Science and Medicine, 47(2), 233–242. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(98)00057-4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of the Witwatersrand, WITSJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Gender and Health Research UnitMedical Research CouncilPretoriaSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations