Parents hugely underestimate the effect of divorce on children, study suggests
Children are three times more likely to witness rows and arguments between divorcing parents than their mothers and fathers realise, a new study suggests.
Mothering website Netmums carried out separate surveys of parent and children on their experiences of divorce. Just ten per cent of parents said they though their children had seen them fighting, while 31 per cent of the children had actually done so.
Seventy-seven per cent of the parents said they thought their children had “coped well” with the divorce but less than 18 per cent of the children said they were happy that their parents were no longer together.
Almost one third of the children said they had been left “devastated” by the divorce. One in eight blamed themselves for the divorce, and one in 12 said they thought the divorce meant their parents didn’t love them.
The study also highlighted coping behaviours used by some of the children of divorce – 20 per cent drank, 11 per cent self-harmed, and three per cent took drugs.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard says: “Divorce may be a little word but it has a huge effect. It’s estimate that one in three children see their parents separate before the age of 16. While experts acknowledge it is better to come from a broken family than live in one, this research shows not enough is being done to support youngsters through the break-up process.”
“While divorce maybe the best thing for many families, we have to ensure children are helped to understand the split isn’t their fault and that they are still loved. To flourish, children need security and while we will never see a society free from break ups, we should be investing more time, more care and more money into making sure our youngsters have all the support they need to get through this difficult time.”
Photo by dvs via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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