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09 February 2011

Divorce: how it affects your child

Two out of every three marriages in South Africa end in divorce which means that an increasing number of children are growing up in so-called "broken homes".

Two out of every three marriages in South Africa end in divorce which means that an increasing number of children are growing up in so-called "broken homes". What are the effects on children, what should you look out for and how can support your child?

Poorer parent-child relationships due to divorce and interparental conflict can cause these children to have less secure attachments with parents and that as a result of this develop "internal working models" that contain negative expectations about relationships. The happier they perceive their parents' marriage to be, the more secure they are.

  • It is important not to expose a child to conflict between the parents and not to use the child as a pawn.
  • Don't keep the child in the dark – explain to him/her what is happening without going into detail about the other parent's shortcomings.
  • Listen to your child and show that you care.
  • Don't try to overcompensate by spoiling him or not disciplining effectively. This may relieve guilt short-term, but could actually contribute to the child's anxiety and uncertainty.
  • Take care of your own needs. Find someone you could confide in and ask for help when you feel you are not coping.

 
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