Saturday, 13 January 2007

Divorce Made Comfortable

I was interested to read the reports in The Times purporting to show that divorce does no harm to children. There is clearly a huge interest in making divorce ever more acceptable in society at large, as so many people experience it.

However, reading the report it became clear that the methodology was to ask children how they felt about divorce some years afterwards. Children being tolerably robust, this revealed that they tend to say it’s not been too awful. In fact, with their (divorced) parents and possibly new step-parents wanting to justify the new status quo, doubtless it will have been something of a mantra in many cases: ‘things are so much better now than when mummy/daddy and I were fighting all the time.’

However what this research did not seem to address (from the reports published) were issues like:
the educational, emotional, psychological or health outcomes for children post-divorce compared with those from a stable marriage;
the ability or otherwise of such children to sustain permanent relationships in adult life;
the impact of creating a culture of temporary relationships on children at large; and so on.

In fact, I fear that either the research was conducted with a particular pro-divorce agenda in mind, or it has been hijacked by those who wish to justify divorce.

Here is some contrary research - as published in a page called ‘5 myths about divorce’ by a Catholic Family organisation. Yes, yes, of course, they have a particular point of view - but look at the research!

The full site is at :

Myth 3: A divorce is better for the children - the conflicts in a bad marriage are too upsetting for them.

False! Another myth that seems reasonable to most people. But the facts are clear: "The outcomes for children in 'high conflict' intact families more closely resembled those for children in 'low conflict' intact families than those in [divorced] families". Whilst no-one denies that parental conflict is bad for children, the evidence shows that divorce makes things even worse.

Data, The University of Exeter: Exeter Family Study 1994.
Myth 4: The divorce makes a 'clean break' from conflicts so everyone can settle down and rebuild their lives.

False! "The experience of most children whose parents divorce is of increased conflict over an extended period". The advent of new 'partners', conflicts over access rights of the father or mother all mean conflicts can continue indefinitely.

Data source as above.
A nice summary is also provided by the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University:
"Children whose parents have divorced were on average less emotionally stable, left home earlier and divorced or separated more frequently ... The critical thing seems to be children's awareness that parents have, through choice, separated and for many this means a parent choosing to leave them."

Myth 5: The children would prefer it if their fighting parents would split up

False! "When children are asked what they would like they almost always say they only want one thing, that their parents should stay together".
Data source Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University.

1 comment:

S said...

Again, spot-on. I am currently reading a book about this subject called 'Between two worlds'

also have a look at the authors link to 'centre for marriage and families' or

The author examines 'successful' peoples lives and finds that the outcomes are different because of their parents divorce.