(File image) Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Photo: Masi Losi

Durban - Providing financial support is only one part of parental responsibility, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Thursday.

“Parents need to be aware that children are not accessories,” she said at a dialogue in Durban, according to a statement from her office.

“Parental responsibility transcends providing financial support and includes being there for a child, physically, psychologically and socially.”

The dialogue was themed the 'joys of single parenthood'.

Madonsela said neglect had a psychological impact on children, which could result in negative long term effects.

Children had a right to be raised in a supportive environment.

Parental responsibilities need to be “borne by both parents” regardless of custodial or non-custodial issues, she said.

Madonsela said for most women, single parenting was not a matter of choice.

Diverse circumstances led to single parenting included failed relationships or marriages, divorce, being widowed, domestic violence and child abuse.

She said in most failed relationships the mother became the custodial parent, while the father tended to provide financially “taking a less cumbersome role in the upbringing of a child”.

She advised parents to put the best interests of their child first and not turn the child against the other parent.

The Protector encouraged mediation in divorce and post divorce therapy to normalise relations to facilitate healthy co-parenting. - Sapa