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Tommy and Tiger Terry: An Empowering Tool for Children and Parents of Divorce

Author: Shani van Niekerk

Tommy and Tigger Terry projects the painful reality of divorce through the eyes of a boy thrust in the middle of an ugly tug-of-war. This new children’s book tackles the distressing reality of children and teens impacted by family breakdown. Darren Mort, an Australian Family Law attorney, wrote the book especially for minors with separated parents. Tommy’s story gently, but truthfully, narrates one of life’s toughest scenarios in a way that takes the view of the child into account.

Tommy and Tiger Terry is a useful tool for any child exposed to the unsettling reality of family disputes.

The author also created a complementary film for parents embroiled in family disputes. ‘Tommy’ is based on the book and presents a sombering chronicle of his parent’s divorce. The painful reality is that children are the most vulnerable parties in the midst of divorces and residency disputes. The film is raw, revealing and at times, distressing, as it depicts the detrimental impact that toxic arguments and domestic violence have on the children innocently caught up in the war.

Equally insightful, both the book and the short film follow the journey of Tommy and his make-believe friend, Tiger Terry, as they try to escape the trauma of his parents’ separation. The lead character is silent throughout the film – representing the voiceless children forced into these situations. Tommy’s parents are so focused on their anger and resentment toward each other that invisible Tommy just gets in the way as collateral damage.

The movie stirringly highlights the importance of section 6 of the South African Children’s Act, which states that:

in any matter concerning a child, an approach that is conducive to conciliation and problem-solving should be followed, a confrontational approach should be avoided, and a delay in any action or decision to be taken must be avoided as far as possible.

The South African Children’s Act was written with the silent ‘Tommy’s’ in mind. Section 10 the Children’s Act stipulates that:

every child that is of such an age, maturity and stage of development as to be able to participate in any matter concerning that child has the right to participate in an appropriate way and views expressed by the child must be given due consideration.

Parents are cautioned not to allow their children to either become collateral damage or pawns in their sole destroying battles. A true family law practitioner does not concern themselves with the wishes of the parents but places the best interest of the children involved first, regardless of who their client is- an approach which Shani van Niekerk, an attorney from Adams & Adams and a mother herself, prides herself in following. Children are the future of our society and with the escalating numbers of divorce and domestic violence in our country, family lawyers must adhere to the provisions of the Children’s Act to ensure that the ‘Tommys’ are protected.

The book and short film are not currently available in South Africa but Shani van Niekerk is in direct contact with the author and will assist in making this book available in South Africa During a recent International Family Law Conference, Shani was so moved by the movie that she made it her mission to ensure that this empowering book reaches the shores of South- Africa. The book will, unfortunately only be available after the lockdown in South- Africa and Australia is complete. The aim of the distribution of this book is to empower the ‘Tommys’ and, as such, neither Shani nor the firm will make any proceeds from the distribution of the book. For enquiries kindly contact her at shani.vanniekerk@adams.africa.

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