I cannot accept my baby to be a mother: exploring daughter-father dyads' experiences of teenage pregnancy

Kruger, Bianca Octavia
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Background: There has been a decrease in South Africa’s total fertility rate in recent years, accompanied by an increase in the pregnancy rate of children aged fifteen years and younger. Teenage pregnancy receives a great deal of research attention, examining the social and economic status of the mother and child, future outcomes, the teenager’s challenges at home and in school, and the experiences of teenage fathers. No research has explored the relationship and experiences of the teenage mother and her father, despite research emphasizing the important role of father’s in the lives of their daughters. Research aim and objectives: The study explored the father-daughter relationship through their experience of teenage pregnancy. The proposed objectives were: To explore the experiences of teenage pregnancy and motherhood, to explore the influence of teenage motherhood on the fathers of teenage mothers, to elaborate on the teenage mother and her father’s relationship through their experience of teenage pregnancy, and to examine if and how fathers influenced their daughters lives through their experience of teenage pregnancy. Research methods: The study was qualitative, assuming a constructive interpretive paradigm. Through six in-depth interviews of three father-daughter dyads, this study provided a two-way account of father-daughter relationships, exploring those fathers who were present and active in the lives of their children. I conducted the study in the Coloured Township of Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, South Africa. I conducted narrative interviews and translated them verbatim into English. I then read and re-read these transcriptions and notes taken throughout the interviews for data immersion and coded them into themes. I used hermeneutic phenomenology to analyze the data as it allowed for a level of interpretation and sense-making into the phenomenon of teenage pregnancy. I presented and discussed the themes and sub-themes with my supervisor and research team. Findings: The research aimed to fill the knowledge gap on the experiences of teenage mothers and their fathers in the Coloured township of Johannesburg, South Africa. Participants described their reactions to teenage pregnancy, including the positivity of motherhood. Teenage mothers’ perceived abortion to be wrong, arguing from a religious perspective. Father participants reacted with disappointment, hurt, and attributed self-blame due to daughter’s lack of disclosure of her pregnancy. Non-disclosure affected the reactions to the teenage pregnancy, including fathers insisting their daughters terminate their pregnancy. Fathers’ further questioned their fathering abilities and relationship with their daughter. Father-daughter dyads narratives reported conflict within the home, due to the control fathers wished to have over the teenage mothers and her baby. Fathers of teenage mothers assumed full responsibility for the teenage mothers and her baby, and therefore hindered the access of young fathers, causing conflict in the home. Fathers experienced great difficulty in accepting their teenage daughters were mothers, and in accepting the transgression of the adult/child binary. The findings suggested that hegemonic masculinity undergirded by religion, assisted in the construction and performance of fatherhood. This construction governed the decisions around whether to terminate the pregnancy, the treatment and control of the teenage mother and her baby, and the contact of the young father. Within this Coloured community, they reported the expectation and acceptance of teenage pregnancy as encouraging the phenomenon. The findings reported that the teenage mother’s family expected a visit from the young father and his family, upon discovering the teenage pregnancy. Discussions: The study showed that the reactions to teenage pregnancy are like those of previous studies, including the hurt and disappointment from the fathers of teenage mothers. However, the positivity of the teenage motherhood was greater than the negativity experienced. The teenage pregnancy aided the teenage mother in her acknowledgement and understanding of her sexuality and encouraged safer sexual choices and open communication regarding sexual health dialogue. Fathers of teenage mothers experience the same hurt and emotions and engage in similar child-rearing practices as the mothers of teenage mothers. However, due to the normative masculine constructions of fatherhood and expected gendered norms, they do not express the emotions experienced. The conflict within the teenage mother’s household, exists because of fathers difficulty in accepting their teenage daughters sexuality and her transition into adulthood. Whether the baby’s father is involved in the teenage mother and her baby’s life, further conflates this conflict. Fathers of teenaged mothers prevent these young fathers from seeing their teenage daughter or grandchild, which promotes father absence. Financial provision and absence of the expected visit from the baby’s father and his family, aid in the negative reactions from fathers toward the young fathers and the control they wish to exert over the teenage mother and her baby. The findings argue that the lack of his financial contribution and accountability for the baby encourages teenage pregnancy within this Coloured community. Recommendations: Future research should explore teenage pregnancy across lower age brackets. We need to educate and encourage fathers to engage more with their daughters about their sexuality and sexual practices. Parents, teachers and health care professionals need to educate young people on reproductive health, safe sex practices and unplanned pregnancy. Conclusions: This study illustrated that the reactions to teenage pregnancy are more complex than reported in previous research. Fathers of teenage mothers play an equal and active role in the upbringing of teenage mothers and their grandchildren’s, as mothers of teenage mothers. Provision plays a crucial role in the access granted to young fathers to their children. Present, active, and affectionate fathering does not guarantee teenage pregnancy will not occur. Fathers of teenage mothers embed their experience of teenage pregnancy in feelings of hurt and pain, and attribute self-blame and helplessness. They suppress these emotions due to normative constructions of masculinity and fatherhood. The conflict within the home, results from the difficulty in accepting the transgression of the adult/child binary, the baby’s father and the non-disclosure of the pregnancy. Coloured fathers expect a courtesy visit from the baby’s father and his family. Within the Coloured community, the occurrence, reactions and acceptance of teenage pregnancy as a norm, encourages the phenomenon.
Submitted to the faculty of Humanities University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in partial fulfillment of the requirements for degree of Master of Arts in Social and Psychological Research by Research Report
Kruger, Bianca Octavia (2018) I cannot accept my baby to be a mother :exploring father-daughter dyads experiences of teenage pregnancy, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <http://hdl.handle.net/10539/28379>