The Department of Social Development calls on parents to play an active role in their children’s lives.
The absence of one parent could have a negative impact on children, as they face an increased risk of developing behavioural challenges.
This is according to the Department of Social Development, which adds that many children in South Africa live without their parents’ support, which compromises their rights to protection and care.
“Some of these children live in child-headed, youth-headed and grandparent-headed households and some, if not most, are being raised by one parent – in the majority, by their mothers,” the department says.
It adds that there are negative social and economic effects that are prevalent in families where one parent is absent.
The department says children have a right to both parents, irrespective of whether they are separated or divorced and regardless of who has a custody.
“The upbringing of children should be the full responsibility of both parents, unless a court determines otherwise.”
In 2018, Statistics South Africa published the ‘Children’s education and well-being in South Africa’ report, which focused on children under the age of 18.
It revealed that only 31.7% of black children stayed with their biological fathers, compared to 51.3% (coloured), 86.1% (Indian or Asian) and 80.2% (white). In these four race groups, between 74% and 92.6% of children live with their mothers.
Tips for parents
Refilwe Kgoete, a Social Worker at Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training, says a separation or divorce does not only affect parents, but can be devastating for children too.
Co-parenting is a better solution to protect children from suffering.
“Having a co-parenting schedule in place is one way parents can still be part of their children’s lives, even after separation or divorce.
“This requires that the two parties put their emotions aside, focus on what their children need and act in the children’s best interest,” says Kgoete.
Co-parenting ensures that children spend time with both parents in a healthy environment.
Time spent with both parents is important for creating family bonds and will help children develop socially and emotionally. It will also help them develop healthy relationships in adulthood, she says.
Kgoete advises parents to use technology when physical contact is a challenge, by using frequents voice and video calls to communicate with their children.