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HSRC Press :: Teenage Tata

Teenage Tata
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Teenage Tata

Voices of young fathers in South Africa

Sharlene Swartz, Arvin Bhana

Format168mm x 240mm (Soft Cover)
ISBN 100-7969ó2287-X
ISBN 13978-07969-2287-8
Publish Year2009
RightsWorld Rights
DescriptionRelated ProductsEmail To A FriendProduct RatingCustomer Reviews

Teenage Tata  :: Voices of young fathers in South AfricaFree DownloadTeenage Tata  :: Voices of young fathers in South Africa
PodcastThe innovative methodology adopted with the incorporation of social networks as a research tool and the research assistance and voices of the teenage fathers within this study, is discussed in this final part of the five part podcast package. Dr Sharlene Swartz discusses issues of culture, hierarchies and communities within the context of teenage fathers in South Africa.

Duration: 4 min 51 sec


Teenage Tata: Voices of young fathers in South Africa provides a fresh and in-depth portrait of impoverished young South African men who became fathers while teenagers. It provides space for their articulate and impassioned voices to be heard amidst the outcry against the absence of fathers, and offers insights into young fathersí personal, emotional, financial and cultural struggles as they come to terms with fatherhood. The study highlights young fathersí strong sense of responsibility; poignant accounts of emotional engagement with their children and the women in their lives; the motivating power of young fathersí own absent fathers on their parenting intentions; their desire for sex- and relationship-education from male family members and their clear recognition of the help they need. Based on a multi-interview qualitative study in the informal settlements and townships around Cape Town and Durban, this monograph offers methodological innovations and showcases how social network interviews offer great potential for both research and intervention.

The Child, Youth, Family and Social Development (CYFSD) research programme of the HSRC aims to promote human and social development through the production of high quality applied research that addresses challenges arising from social inequality, poverty, violence, HIV/AIDS and other causes of ill-health and suffering, and loss of human potential. We research aspects of the life course, from infancy to old age, with an emphasis on understanding how contexts, policies and politics shape and distribute life chances. Throughout the life cycle, people learn, interact and develop within families, social and cultural groups, schools, workplaces, communities, and the economic, political and social orders. Our research focuses on individuals, groups and institutions relating to children, youth, families, and vulnerable populations, including older individuals and people with disabilities.


Glossary of colloquial, isiZulu and isiXhosa terms

1 What we know and need to know about young fathers and fatherhood

  • Young fatherhood and negative life outcomes
  • The absence of studies on young fathers in the developing world
  • The purpose of the study

2 Designing and implementing an ethical phenomenological study

  • The conceptual and methodological framework
  • Data collection, research sample and analysis
  • Using community informants to recruit research participants
  • Research ethics
  • Limitations and challenges of the study

3 ‘Scared, proud, excited, frustrated, stressed’: Coming to terms with being a young father

  • A strong emotional response to the news of fatherhood
  • The meaning of responsibility
  • Reasons for having a child at a young age
  • The impact of the event on young men’s lives
  • Conclusion

4 ‘Being there and providing; that’s my job’: Young fathers’ perspectives on good fathering

  • Becoming a father in the context of absent fathers
  • What it means to be a good father
  • What it takes to be a good father
  • Conclusion

5 Mothers, damages and ‘her family’: Influences, practices and relationships in the life of a young father

  • The role of young fathers’ mothers
  • Young men’s relationships with the child’s mother and her family
  • Cultural practices as obstacles to young fathers’ involvement with their children
  • Conclusion

6 ‘Spare wheels’ and ‘meat to meat’: The meaning of sexual health for impoverished young men

  • Young fathers’ use of condoms and knowledge of contraception
  • The allure of emotional connection through multiple partners
  • The dearth of services and failure of sex education
  • Conclusion

7 ‘Knowing, working, talking and connecting’: The crucial needs of young fathers

  • A summary of the main findings
  • Young fathers’ recommendations about the help they need
  • Advice to young men who are soon to be fathers
  • Advice to young men to avoid becoming fathers
  • Creating closer ties through social network interviewing: A possible intervention
  • Recommendations for further study

Appendix 1 Interview schedules
Appendix 2 Consent forms

About the Author/s

Dr Sharlene Swartz is a sociologist and researcher at the Child, Youth, Family and Social Development research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council, and a visiting research fellow at the Centre for Commonwealth Education at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Arvin Bhana is a psychologist, the Deputy Executive Director at the Child, Youth, Family and Social Development research programme of the Human Sciences Research Council, and an adjunct associate professor in the School of Psychology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.


“This book shows how the experience of fatherhood is a powerfully transformative process and which, in the case of these young men, evoked generosity and self-reflection, as well as disappointment and frustration. Becoming a young father is often portrayed as a personal disaster. In this book, we are taken beyond this story of misfortune into the rich emotional worlds of young, black, South African fathers.”
 - Robert Morrell, Professor of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal. Co-editor of Baba: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa

Teenage Tata is beautifully written and well-illustrated with the words of the protagonists. What beams through is the responsibility young men feel towards their children, and their emotional investment in them. But what is also evident is that these young men have very few options for realising this sense of responsibility. It is plain that this study will be a landmark on the path towards the development of innovative programmes to assist young fathers.”
 -  Professor Linda Richter, Executive Director, CYFSD, HSRC. Co-editor of Baba: Men and Fatherhood in South Africa

“This is a wonderful book, and a most moving one. And its research methods are impeccable.”
 -  Eva Hunter, Research Fellow at the University of Western Cape

Click on the links below to read the reviews:

Media coverage: Teenage Tata / Weekend Argus 12 September 2009

Media: Teenage Tata / Uncut 01 November 2009

Media: Teenage Tata Cape Times 9 April 2010



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