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Article by Durban divorce attorney - Fawzia Khan


Children, though resilient, can be severely affected when their parent’s marriage breaks up.

Below are tips from Joan Kelly a US based clinical psychologist. According to Ms. Kelly she recommends that the parents talk to the children about the separation. She says when parents do not explain what's happening to their children, the kids feel anxious, upset and lonely and find it much harder to cope with the separation”. Kelly advises that parents must be discreet and not leave personal information or court documents etc. where the children could easily see it. “Recognize that your children love you both, and think of how to reorganize things in a way that respects their relationship with both parents.

Don't leave court papers and affidavits out on your kitchen counter for children to read. Don't talk on the phone about legal matters or your ex when the kids are in the next room. Pay the child maintenance timeously. This will ensure economic stability for the children. Don’t put the children in the middle of the conflict as this could lead to depression and behavioural problems. Dads must stay in the picture. Fathers are encouraged to be more than a “fun” dad. They should help with homework, use appropriate discipline, and be emotionally available to talk about problems.

The parties are asked to deal with anger in an appropriate manner. “When you’re hurting, it’s easy to think you never want to see the ex again, and to convince yourself that’s also best for the kids. But children’s needs during separation are very different from their parents. Get professional help for feelings of depression, anger etc. Don’t use the children as a sounding board to vent off built up anger. Encourage your children to stay connected to your ex’s family and important friends. This will allow the children to know that they have a deep and powerful support system.

Don’t introduce your new partner too early to your children in case that relationship ends. According to Kelly young children can form attachments to your potential life partners and, if new relationships break up, it could lead to lack of trust in children. And don’t expect your older kids to instantly love someone you’ve chosen, this person will have to earn their respect and affection. Reinforce to your children that you care so much about them and that that you will keep them safe, from any conflict. They will appreciate it as they get older.

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