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Here's to the safe men who show up for our children
Celebrating social fathers

Celebrating social fathers

This June, Father's Day and Youth Day fall on the same day. It's a great moment for us to acknowledge the important impact that positive, present father figures play in young people's lives. 

In South Africa, 70% of children grow up in homes without their biological fathers. There are many uncles, grandfathers, coaches, teachers and community leaders who step up as positive male role models for these children. At Fathers Matter, we call these men 'social fathers'.

This month, we're celebrating and highlighting the importance of social fathers.

What are the different ways to be a social father?

Here are some ways to be a social father to a child who is not yours biologically:

  1. Relative: An uncle, grandfather, older brother, cousin or other relative who is invested in the well-being of a child.
  2. Mentor: Be a positive role model and mentor to a child who may not have a father figure in their life.
  3. Family friend: Be a close family friend who provides support and guidance.
  4. Co-parent: Share parenting responsibilities with the child's biological parents.
  5. Community involvement: Volunteer or work with organisations that support children and families.
  6. Stepfather: Marry the child's mother and become their stepfather.
  7. Role model: Be a positive influence and role model in a child's life, even if not in a traditional fatherly role. These include coaches, teachers, pastors, youth workers, etc.


It takes a village – and social fathers are here for the fatherless

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Social fathering is about carrying the "essence" of positive fatherhood into all aspects of life. When men step up as positive role models for children who aren't their biological kids, it reflects the beauty of community.

For over 30 years, Heartlines’ Craig Bouchier has been a fully committed social father, mobilising community fathers to co-create safe spaces.

Nkosinathi's story


We’ve put together some tip sheets:

  • For men with advice on how to be a positive, present male role model for children.
  • For young people to know what to expect and how to stay safe in their relationships with social fathers.

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Tip Sheet How to be a social father
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Tip Sheet Advice for young people
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