Children are affected by adult migration, whether or not they themselves move. Yet little attention has been paid to patterns of child mobility and changing household contexts in South Africa, and the ways in which these relate to patterns of adult migration. Internal migration in South Africa is historically associated with the social engineering and enforced fragmentation of families that took place under apartheid. In particular, controls on population movement, together with limited residential rights in cities and other places of economic activity, restricted the ability of African families to migrate and live together, while dual housing arrangements allowed for circular movement between urban and rural homes. The term “oscillating migration” was used to describe mobility between urban and rural areas. Rather than being viewed as physically bounded and static units, households came to be viewed as straddling these nodes, both of which could include resident and non-resident members. Contrary to expectations, there was no substantial increase in permanent urban migration when the apartheid-era controls on population movement were removed (Posel 2006). Instead, temporary labour migration has remained an important livelihood strategy for many households, and extended and dual household forms have persisted.