Boitumelo Sesoko is a 34-year-old father, who says he’s been excluded from seeing his two-year-old for the past three months.
As a father who is trying to grow his relationship with his daughter, he’s struggling to come to terms with the amount of time he’s missing out on with his daughter.
This is his story.
"Before my daughter was born, I was in a relationship with her mother and everything was going well, until I moved from Johannesburg to Cape Town for employment purposes.
Upon my return our relationship was a bit offish, even though we tried to work things out but we couldn’t. So for our daughter’s sake we thought it would be best if we went to a family court to draw up a coherent parenting plan.
However, even after paying the damages (an African custom when the female’s family is paid for her getting pregnant out of wedlock) that were required culturally for my daughter, I’ve been denied access to her on several occasions and the parenting plan has been completely neglected.
As it stands, my relationship with my daughter is amazing, even though I have limited time to spend with her. Whenever we are together she brings the best out of me as a father. She is such a loving and intelligent young lady and whenever she smiles I feel blessed as a parent. It really pains me that I am prohibited from seeing her simply because her mother and I have unamicable differences.
As a young father I think it is important to have an established relationship with my daughter because I believe financial support alone cannot raise a child.
I haven’t seen my daughter for three months, I can’t even communicate with her telephonically and despite the efforts I have made in an attempt to get custody of her, the situation remains a never-ending battle.
What advice would I give to fathers who find themselves in a similar situation?
Firstly, it’s important for fathers to know they have equal rights just like the mothers and more than anything the child should always take priority, regardless of the issues the parents have between them.
Secondly, as a father you need to always ensure your child is constantly happy and this happiness doesn’t have to come in monetary form. Even if you can’t afford to take your child to these fancy places, it’s your presence that really counts and the quality time you spend with them that’s precious.
Thirdly, there are family advocates that can provide assistance on these kind of matters. Men need to start doing their research and using the law to assist themselves, rather than giving up.
I’m presently part of an all-dads’ organisation which provides help to fathers who are dealing with similar situations and it’s always quite enlightening to know you are not alone.
It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of this dads’ group and more than anything it’s made me realise the importance of creating proper family structures for your child to understand the importance of unconditional love.
I’m not sure if I’ll even see my daughter again but I won’t give up as long as the law still provides precedence over these kind of matters – I will not give up on the hopes of seeing my daughter."
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