My eldest son is currently in a situation where he finds himself about to become a first time father at 23.
Whilst I’m certainly not ready to become a Glam-ma, I owe it to my son to guide and support him.
How do you support an unplanned pregnancy.
In this case the young girl is 18 and just finished school. As a teen mom myself I know all too well the challenges that she will face along the way.
As a mom who raised her children alone and divorced I’m also aware of the delicate situation this poor baby is being born into and the amount of maturity, co-parenting and support both future mom and dad will need.
Whilst there is not much that you can do to change a situation other than accept it and weather the new territory one step at a time you can do the following:
- You can refrain from voicing too strong an opinion. This decision is between the mom and dad . It is more difficult to guide than to discipline but the parents will need to work together for the sake of their child.
- You can offer your advise and discuss all options available to both parents. Alternatively You could contact www.famsa.org and arrange counselling or mediation for the new parents.
- You can accept that you play a role in guiding your child into a daunting new chapter of their lives and offer the support they need regardless of how you feel towards the other parent.
- You can prepare your family for the arrival of a brand new member to love and enjoy. Encouraging both parents to equally be involved in this journey.
It is often easier for a man to put out of his mind the pregnancy , especially if he is not living with the babies mother. He should be encouraged to prepare for baby, plan, discuss his thoughts, read up about pregnancy, support the mother emotionally and attend Dr and antenatal visits.
You could start a scan album for the dad to be to keep his first photos in , throw him a nappy braai, buy him some baby books to read and ask often how he is feeling as you assist with baby shopping .
What are single dad’s rights in South Africa?
According to the South Africa’s Children’s Act a child born out of wedlock is a child whose natural parents were not married to each other at the time of such child’s conception or at any time thereafter.
The Act No. 86, 1997 (NATURAL FATHERS OF CHILDREN BORN OUT OF WEDLOCK ACT. 1997) states:
- A court may on application by the natural father of a child born out of wedlock make an order granting the natural father access rights to or custody or guardianship of the child on the conditions determined by the court. An application will be granted should the court be satisfied that it’s in the best interest of the child.
Section 19 of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 states:
- A mother, whether married or unmarried, has full rights and responsibilities towards her child, but a married father also has full rights and responsibilities.
- An unmarried biological father will only have automatic parental rights if he is living with the mother in a permanent life partnership (and consents to being identified as the father).
- Fathers who are in a cohabitation relationship with the mother to have an inherent right to contact, care and guardianship.
Therefore the biological father does not have any automatic parental rights unless he was in a relationship with the mother. He has the option to apply under section 2(1) of the Natural Fathers Born Out of Wedlock Act 86 of 1987 for access rights to or custody or guardianship of the child.
Important information for single fathers
Does the biological unmarried father have to pay maintenance:
Yes it is his duty to maintain his child
Does an unmarried father need to be considered for important decisions:
Yes – when it comes to:
- Passport application for the child
- Adoption of the child by another person
- Removal of the child from South Africa
- If the child wants to get married
Up until the Children’s Act was enforced, the law favoured the mother as the parent who would be given the care and custody of minor children. That situation has since been drastically changed. The court is now required by law to look at what is in the best interests of the child, rather than look at favouring a mother or father as the custodial parent.
Most importantly it is never easy being a first time parent and your son will need your wisdom, support and love as he prepares for a new life.