DO PARENTS FAIL TO SEE THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON THEIR CHILDREN?

2 childrenA new report by Netmums suggests that separating parents are in denial about the effect of the divorce on their children.  Netmums, the parenting organisation, surveyed a thousand parents and a hundred children separately and concluded that parents see their divorce very differently from their children.

According to the report:

  • Almost a third of under 18s described themselves as “devastated” by their parents’ divorce, while 1 in 12 thought it meant that their parents didn’t love them and had let them down.  1 in 8 blamed themselves for the split. 
  • Only 14% of children were able to be honest with their parents about how upset they felt.
  • 2 in 5 said that they “hide their feelings from their parents as they don’t want to upset them”.  While 1 in 5 felt “there was no point in telling my parents how I feel as they are too wrapped up in themselves”.
  •  1 in 12 felt forced to look after the parent as the relationship broke down while more than a third claimed one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other.
  • The trauma of the split was so bad for some youngsters that 31% witnessed their parents fighting, while 1 in 20 drank, and 3% took drugs to cope.  1 in 9 self-harmed.

The parents’ perspective was very different:

  • Only 5% of parents realised that their children blamed themselves for the split, and 1 in 10 thought their children were “relieved” they left their partner.
  • 77% of separated couples think their children coped well – but only 18% of children are happy their parents are no longer together.
  • Whilst over a third of children claim one of their parents tried to turn them against the other, only 8% of parents admit to it.

Obviously, if parents are separating, whilst it is important that they acknowledge how divorce might affect their children, there might be little in reality that they can do about it.  The separation is already taking place, the parents are inevitably going to be living separately and that will have an enormous impact on their children.

However, it is equally obvious that if parents can separate amicably, avoid fighting and arguing either in front of the children or through solicitors or in court, then separation will have a less devastating effect on all concerned.  Mediation can be a way for the parents to be able to work together to ensure that their separation has the least impact possible on their children.  A trained mediator will be able to help both parents and children through the process by giving advice and referring on, if appropriate, to other agencies or advice services.  We all know of families who have experienced the negative aspects of divorce.  If you are separating this coming year perhaps a resolution should be that parents make every effort to reduce the impact on their children and also on themselves.  It is not only better for the children but also for the parents if the separation can be dealt with amicably and constructively, either through the collaborative law process or mediation.

For more information about all of these options please contact Cotswold Family Law and Mediation on 01608 686 590 or email at info@cotswoldfamilylaw.co.uk or visit the websites www.cotswoldfamilylaw.co.uk and www.cotswoldmediation.com