Graeme Smith under fire for ‘failing’ at parenthood


Former Proteas captain Graeme Smith and his wife Morgan Deane announced that they are to divorce this week, according to Sport24. Social network commentary has been quite brutal as fans (and spectators) turned on the young parents for “abandoning” their two young children. While the reasons for their imminent divorce are unknown, it is unfair to label them bad parents.

The couple, who married in 2011, have two children aged two and one, and, in their divorce announcement asked that their privacy be respected, especially for the sake of their children.

Divorce is an appalling experience. Even if it’s what people refer to as “amicable”, there is trauma for all parties, including any children, involved. It can take years to recover from the process, and some individuals never quite manage to “get over” the hurt, anger, bitterness and sadness which may be present at the time the couple splits. In some divorces, the children become pawns, used in arguments rather than protected from them.

As a high profile celebrity couple, their relationship has been under constant scrutiny from an unforgiving public. Under any circumstances it’s difficult to raise young children, but, under the glare of cameras, it can be even harder. The facts surrounding the couple’s divorce are:

•    We know nothing as outsiders, and speculation is only going to hurt both Graeme and Megan who are as human as any of us.
•    They have both committed to looking out for their children’s best interest, in spite of the separation.

Should we not commit to helping them recover by not attacking them?

Children and divorce

While nobody goes into a marriage expecting divorce, it is a reality that can happen. When children are involved it takes sensitivity to limit any long-term trauma. There is no proof anywhere that either Graeme or Morgan has “failed” their children, and it’s entirely possible that their kids will grow up just as happy, loved and functional as any child of a so-called nuclear family. In the same way that kids growing up with married parents can grow up abused, unhappy, traumatised and dysfunctional. Or not. “Sticking together for the kids” is just not healthy.

Families and friends may offer the worst criticism in the event of a couple choosing to divorce. Far from the support the individuals need, speculation about the reasons for the breakdown can create permanent rifts in relationships. Unless you have been told by both parties what the reasons are, blaming either one isn’t on.

The exceptions, of course, would be in the event of physical or psychological abuse of one party against the other, or if the children are at risk of abuse. Even then, support is needed (and protection of any vulnerable individuals).

Superficial social media

Unfortunately, social media updates invite people into your lives on a superficial level. People forget, though, that a Tweeted message of happiness or a motivational Instagram picture do not come close to telling the story of what it is like to be in a relationship with someone.

Cruel comments about how he or she looks like they’re greedy, sexually promiscuous, violent and so on are just not on. Would you say the same to those people if they were in front of you? I don't know them, but I am certain they'd appreciate kindness at this time.

How about we do as Morgan and Graeme ask, and allow them to divorce with as little fuss as possible, and that we respect their privacy- especially the privacy of their young children.

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.

What messages of support would you as parents give to Graeme and Morgan?

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24