In South Africa, it has been established that a high number and growing proportion of children are growing up
without fathers in their lives. Research suggests that some children who grow up without their biological fathers seek to
know them during adolescence. Some discover them whilst others never do. This paper aimed to investigate experiences
of young women who discover their fathers during adolescence.
We undertook a qualitative study in the Mpumalanga Province of South Africa to understand experiences of children who
grow up with absent fathers. We conducted face-to-face, gender-matched interviews with young women aged 15 to 26.
Five case studies are presented here. We used Topical structural analysis to examine the narratives.
Findings reveal that mother or someone else from the maternal family was instrumental in the disclosure of the father’s
identity. Four topics that cover the resultant experiences in relation to the father were; a weak or no relationship formed, a
positive relationship was formed, the child was disinterested or the mother barred regular visits to the father.
This study concludes that the maternal family context, reasons for father absence, how the disclosure happened influence
experiences that follow discovering one’s father. Forming a positive relationship with the father depended on the child
and father’s common interest.