While divorce has become so common in Rwanda, more children are suffering from its consequences. Children are the most affected when parents file for divorce as they are forced to take sides.
However, this does not have to be the case, according to Gorret Bisangwa, a marriage councilor, who says that divorced parents should set aside their differences, hurt and anger and desist from directing their frustrations towards their children.
“Though it may be difficult to get along as separated partners, try and focus on your child or children. Parents should always remember that when it comes to raising children after a divorce, it is not about your feelings anymore, it is about the child’s happiness and upbringing,” Bisangwa said.
Adding that, “it’s also important to keep issues away from children. Whenever there are disagreements, avoid doing so in the presence of your kids.”
Kevin Ashaba a divorcee, with two children says fathers should also try and attain joint custody.
“A child is better raised with a fathers hand involved in his life as well. Make as many visits as possible when the child is not at your home. If it’s possible you could even live right next to your ex’s home so that it’s much easier for you to participate in the life of your child,” Ashaba says.
Bisangwa emphasises that mature communication between divorced parents is vital for the sake of earning respect from their children.
“If the children are staying in both your homes at different times, it would be quite convenient if you sat down and decided on the best way to raise the child,” Bisangwa said.
“Divorced parents should set rules and guidelines that they expect their child to follow in both homes. Avoid setting different rules at each home as this would leave them confused,” she explains.
“Make this process peaceful and if you have a suggestion, make it a request and set it forward to your ex and discuss it,” she adds.
Bisangwa suggests that divorced parents should prioritise listening as the best way to mend broken communication ties.
Bonita Amariza, a mother of three says it is important to respect your ex even when they move on and develop new relationships.
“After a divorce, it’s normal that both parents may want to move on with other relationships,” Amariza says, “and this should not affect the way you raise the children you had together.”
According to Amariza, divorced parents should both respect each other’s space and boundaries when they start up a new family while supporting your child, at the same time.
“At this point, it’s best to keep your relationship child-focused and let go of your past differences,” she said.