Marital breakdown shows an increase in societies across the world. An increase in the divorce rate is also evident in recent statistics in South Africa. However, in many instances a marriage does not end in a legal divorce, but rather in marital separation. Marital separation is usually regarded as a temporary separation by the couple, with the intent to decide whether to continue with the marriage or not. In many cases marital separation turns into a permanent separation of the couple, where the father usually leaves the family home while the children remain in the care of the mother. As marital separation does not involve a legal process, parents often make informal arrangements for the care of the children. In the Xhosa community the father is regarded as the carrier of the family lineage and thus plays an important role in the life of the male child. The researcher was interested in how Xhosa adolescent males who remained in the care of their mothers, experienced the marital separation of their parents.
The goal of the study was to explore and describe the experiences of Xhosa adolescent males regarding the marital separation of their parents. A qualitative research approach and a phenomenological research design was followed to obtain the personal views of the participants. Semi-structured interviews with the use of an interview schedule was used to collect data from 12 Xhosa male participants. The participants were selected by means of purposive sampling, based on certain sampling criteria. The findings of the study indicate that most of the participants parents did not inform them of their marital separation, while the topic was also not discussed over the longer term. The marital separation of their parents had an influence on various aspects of the participants lives. In the context of this study, the effect of the marital separation on cultural norms and practices, was a prominent theme in the findings.
It is recommended that social workers should be sensitive to the effects of parental separation on the holistic developmental needs of children, including the effects on cultural practices in certain communities, such as the Xhosa community in the case of this study. The researcher further recommends that more extensive studies on marital separation be conducted, including studies with larger sample sizes, with children of different age groups, and in diverse cultural contexts.
Mini Dissertation (MSW)--University of Pretoria, 2016.