Single father’s in South Africa

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.

Carefully …

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.

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31 life Rules for your son’s 

(Author unknown)

Rules For Sons:

1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.

2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs.

3. The man at the Braai is the closest thing to a king.

4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.
5. Request the late check-out.

6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.

7. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.

8. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.

9. Play with passion or not at all…

10. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look him in the eye.

11. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.

12. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.
13. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her.

14. You marry the girl, you marry her family.

15. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.

16. Experience the serenity of traveling alone.

17. Never be afraid to ask out the best looking girl in the room.

18. Never turn down a breath mint.

19. A sport coat is worth 1000 words.

20. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.

21. Thank a veteran. Then make it up to him.
22. Eat lunch with the new kid.

23. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.

24. Ask your mom to play. She won’t let you win. 

25. Manners maketh the man.

26. Give credit. Take the blame.

27. Stand up to Bullies. Protect those bullied.
28. Write down your dreams.

29. Always protect your siblings (and teammates).

30. Be confident and humble at the same time.

31. Call and visit your parents often. They miss you.

A letter from your child … the last child at school

Dear parent of the last child to be collected from preschool
Its been such a long day

And you were not here

I missed you so much

When will you appear? 
All the mommys and daddys

Collected their boys and girls

All my friends left 

With their bags and their curls
I’m just little and I don’t understand 

Why the boss kept you late

Or why the traffic was bad

I’m waiting for you at the gate
With noone around

I’m lonley and sad

Sometimes I think im forgotten

By my mom and my dad
So please dont leave me

To be last at school

Its really not nice

And not very cool
Love ,
Your precious child
(Judy Dooley)

South African dads get Paid Paternity leave on new proposed Parental Leave bill.

A new Parental Leave bill

On Tuesday the 28 November 2017 ,South Africa Parliment gave the go ahead to award fathers 10 days paid Paternity Leave.

Although the Labour Laws Amendment Bill was passed in our Parliment National Assembly, it still needs to be reviewed by the National Council of Provinces.

Other benefits

In addition to Paternity Leave , the bill has provisions for Surrogacy Leave and 10 weeks Parental Adoption Leave (applicable to one adoptive parent only).

Increased UIF and Maternity benefits have also been addressed.

A new view on child care

This is a fantastic step forward as to how we as a country view child care.

Traditionally women are awarded Maternity Leave as our salaries are less and our husbands /partners need to be at work to earn the salaries we require for survival.

My view

As a mother I welcome the initiative to further involve a father’s role in a childs life. 

The early days are a special few moments of learning and getting to know your baby. They set the foundation for future routines and an often exhausted ,sleep deprived mother would welcome the assistance of her babys father being hands on. 

In a culture where woman still have the majority say and involvement in a child’s life, this will effectively break the stereotypes and assist in creating bonded families where parents share equal responsibility for raising a child.

What is encouraging , are the other factors to the bill being that of surrogacy and adoption. It’s great to see our government looking to invest our hard earned monies back into the development of strong family units.

Our current law 

Currently fathers wanting to stay at home with a new baby have to either apply for family responsibility leave, which is limited to 3 days, or take annual leave.

Family responsibility leave only comes into effect once you’ve been employed for more than 4 months.

There are currently no provisions for Paternity Leave, Surrogacy Leave or Adoption Leave.

A mother is entitled to 4 months Maternity Leave. This is unpaid and her position at work will be held open for her. 

She is entitled to apply for UIF for 17 weeks. She will be paid 38 to 58 percent of her salary depending on the length of time she has been employed and contributing to UIF. 

Dealing with uninvolved grandparents

I grew up on my grandmothers lap and consider myself most fortunate. There is no love that compares to the unwavering ,unconditional love of a grandparent. 

Over the years , it was my grandmother’s wisdom I turned to . Her advice and counsel I saught .  I knew no matter what she would fiercely protect me and love me through  my bad moods, trials and tears.

Not all granparents are loving

When my eldest child was born , I was estatic to share this bond with her and to watch my own mother become a special star in my daughters life.

It was also round about this time that I discovered not all grandparents are cut from the same cloth.

A few examples

My mother,  was an alcoholic who viewed her grandchildren as a nuisance and reminder of her age.   Up until her death she was completely disinterested in bonding with my beautiful children. 

My father , had left the country. In the beginning he exchanged a gift or two but  he last saw any of my children 17 years ago. Not once since has he directly enquired about them. 

My ex husband’s father, who was absent through his sons life, was even less interested. After a few months of sending updates with our first child,  he firmly asked my why I didn’t have an abortion and save his teenage son the embarrassment of ‘my‘ predicament. It was right there that his involvement stopped completely.

As for his mother, she had little time for the children. She was always too busy and I would run after her trying to involve her in birthdays and the children’s other events. She always had an excuse as to why she couldn’t attend. She lived with us at one stage , and was intolerant and rude to the children around her who just wanted to spend time with  her.

Gran to the rescue

Once again I was blessed to have my grandmother fill this imensely important role in both mine and my children’s lives. Unfortunately she passed away when most of my children were still too young to remember how special she was.

Each week she would phone to find out how they were. Each weekend she baked treats and hand made toys for them. At night , when she lived with us, she’d gather my 5 older children onto her bed singing with them and telling them wild tales ;taking them on imaginary adventures. 

The times that we lived far apart from each other she would write to the children, post small parcels and phone them. 

Always she made an effort to find out about their lives, milestones and interests.

So how do you deal with a disinterested grandparent ?

Grandparents hold such a special role in their grandchildren lives and it’s both frustrating and hurtful to know your child will not have an actively involved grandparent in their lives.

 How do you cope with this?

Make an effort 

Always make the effort.  Contrary to what you may feel or believe, you never want your children to feel you isolated an important person from their lives.

Send the photos,  text the milestones,  share the certificates. Invite your parents to birthdays and school functions. If the children are older, let them phone and draw pictures. 

Make an effort to visit them and encourage visits to your home,especially if they stay far away.

You will all remember our road trip to get Bear dedicated in his grandmothers church in order to include her in his special day.

Remind them that they are special in their grandchildren eyes

Send them quotes that your children have said about them. Make a big deal of grandparents day, their birthdays, etc.  

Shortly after my divorce , i took a photo of my youngest two children’s handmade cards for my mother in law and shared them on her Facebook wall. I wanted her to see I divorced her son but she was still special to her grandchildren.

Advise them on how to bond with your child

Some grandparents are just clueless. It’s been a while since they had children and parenting has changed. They may not know your child well enough to bond with them. Suggest a shared hobby.

I remember asking my mother in law to teach my children to build puzzles as she spent hours building puzzles of her own.

Know when to give up

As much as it is important to foster a relationship between your child and their grandparent , it is equally as important to know when to stop trying.

If you have put the effort in and receive no result , you will eventually be setting yourself and your child up for failure.

Protecting their emotions is just as important, if not more so , as encouraging bonds with family. 

If the grandparent makes no effort after your attempts , it is most likely the healthier option to stop trying and wait for them to want a relationship with your child.

My father in law, now in his late seventies , wants to connect with his adult grandsons. I have left this choice up to them. They need to decide if they actually want a relationship with someone who wasn’t involved in their lives.

Moving on

Whilst it may be difficult and hurtful to step aside from disinterested grandparents know that you can break the cycle by one day being the type of grandparent you invisioned in your children’s lives.

Biscuits of love

Most of you will know by now that I’m someone who goes oooh I like that idea and goes with it, often leaving those in my wake to figure out my plan of unsure details, but none the less I get things done …usually the way I invision and like it.

And this afternoon was no exception.

I felt like something sweet and so bear and i went to bake a few biscuits.

Using my old time go to biscuit recipe I made a batch of dough.

After cutting 25 or so biscuits I got the awesome idea of baking papa a love note.

Out came my fondent pens and icing colour powder. .. before long I’d scribbled a primitive stick man note of love.

All that was left to do was bake it …

Because nothing says I love you more than hot biscuits with coffee on a rainy day