Your dad barks!
Think before you insult your ex, says Masanda, it could hurt your child.
‘Do you see that dog barking over there? That is your dad!’

These are words a mom I knew once uttered to her daughter. She wanted to show her little one how useless her father was and likened him to the barking dog to illustrate her point. I think she crossed the line there and was being cruel.

As single mothers we get frustrated with the fathers of our children but I think we should be careful of what we say to our kids or even in their presence. Yes, we are angry and resentful, but such language is really unnecessary especially to a young child. Perhaps you are going through a divorce with this man but he is still the father of your child.

Being a child with no father around must be frustrating and now to be shown a dog as the father surely will further confuse the poor child.

Amid all the anger, it is important to still be good role models for our children. It is important that we hold it together for their sake.

I remember in high school, we would have chats as children born of single parents. Some of the stories were heartbreaking and really unfair.

‘Utatakho yinja’ (Xhosa for ‘your dad is a dog’) seemed like a common statement from frustrated mothers. Of course no matter how bad the relationship was between the parents some kids were close to their fathers and some were not. Those who were close to their parents were hurt by this statement. Who wants to be the product of a dog?

A better way

I was in a fortunate position that although my mother was a single parent, I never heard her say something like that. Even though my parents were not together, I was able to enjoy both sides of their families without any guilt. If they had any drama they managed to hide it very well.

This was a bonus to me because today I am reaping the rewards of that diplomacy between them. No bad words were ever said and that made me respect my father.

At times you will find that children of single parents are closer to their mother’s side of the family than the father’s side because of the strained relationship. 

Although I am a single parent myself, in my son’s eyes his father will never be the dog. I chose the guy and not my son and I need to live with the consequences and not subject him to such language.

The fathers might not always deserve to be shielded but my concern is hurting the feelings of a child. I am sure it is quite sad to hear that your dad is an animal or any other derogatory name, imagine is that was said about you as the mother?

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

Do we need to improve the way that single parents talk about each other?
Read more by Masanda Peter

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