Family Re-Organisation


In many instances men and women have not made the transition to take up joint parental responsibility for their children for a period long enough to develop a meaningful parental relationship. Reasons for such difficulties are.

  • Too many changes to cope with during too short a period of time (e.g. pregnancy, marriage, living together, being a spouse, being a parent)
  • The parents never lived together. Their relationship was too short.
  • The parties evolve at a different pace in assuming the parental role
  • The parents never constituted or defined their own family and stayed part of a family of origin.
  • Inherent differences in outlook on parenting.

The above scenarios could lead to situation where the parents experience ongoing conflict regarding parenting issues, which contributes to the breakdown of the marriage. The above scenarios could also lead to a situation where one parent or even a third party such as a grandparent assumes responsibility for the children. One or both parents did not participate in the parenting. These aspects become contentious during separation and divorce and have the following consequences.

The lack of similar parental involvement and responsibility is frequently used as a reason for depriving a parent of parental rights, responsibility and even contact with children. From a relationship perspective between two people this attitude is understandable and legitimate. From the perspective of the children involved such an outlook does not make sense.

In the context of divorce if the other parent had a wake-up call and want greater involvement a context should be created in which that parent can develop their parental responsibility and input. For the other parent to be punitive and to say "s/he did not show an interest before, why now?" does not assisting the children involved.

Reasons for parents being punitive:

  • Resentment
  • Protectiveness
  • Fear of abandonment
  • Hurt
  • Spite
  • Hate

Second consequence:

The parent involved most of the time could become critical of the other parent’s "standard of parenting".

The lack of a pre-existing parental relationship resulted in no consensus on parenting style and a lack of sensitivity to pro’s and cons of the other person’s parenting style. Ignorance in the others capacity to parent and distrust in this regard lead to anxiety, which in turn contaminates communication.

Third consequence:

Continuous conflict marked by a continuation of the spousal relationship and its problems. As the parents failed to develop a parental relationship, they have only the patterns of relating developed within the spousal relationship to rely on during separation and divorce.