Child Rights and Positive Parenting

The cross-cutting Child Rights and Positive Parenting (CRPP) Unit works with all other units within Sonke to promote positive parenting practices that include positive discipline strategies, a healthy, supportive relationship between coparents and supporting a child’s education, health and wellbeing.

Changing attitudes about parenting and especially fatherhood is key to the work this unit conducts. In South Africa, where many traditions define fathers almost exclusively as material providers, and where many men are not fully involved fathers, single mothers often bear the economic burden of raising a child and all the emotional and task-related childcare responsibilities as well.

Many fathers are unemployed or low earners and may feel unable to provide materially for their children, so they remove themselves or are excluded from seeing their children. In these situations, children lose out on the many social and emotional benefits of having an active father in their lives.

In addition to relieving the care burden of mothers, we know that involved fatherhood helps children thrive: it has been linked to higher cognitive development and school achievement, better mental health for both boys and girls, and lower rates of delinquency in sons. Studies in multiple countries have shown that fathers’ interaction is important for the development of empathy and social skills in sons and daughters.

What we do

The MenCare South Africa programme is the primary intervention undertaken by the CRPP unit, and works to create healthier family dynamics, a sharing of parental roles in a child’s life and gender-equitable relationships.

At the policy level, Sonke advocates for better parental leave. Parental leave gives men the opportunity to bond with their children while they are still infants. Research supports the idea that this bonding time increases the likelihood that a father will remain involved in his child’s life in the long run.

To encourage even wider acceptance of nonviolent parent-child relationships, Sonke drives a national, multi-pronged campaign to prohibit corporal punishment in all spaces in South Africa, and to promote the use of positive discipline strategies by parents.

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