Advice & Inspiration

Published on January 2nd, 2014 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


The shocking effect of divorce on children

A study has revealed the shocking effect that divorce has on children – and how mums and dads are often in the dark about how youngsters really feel about the break-up of their family.

A Netmums study found that children who had experienced their parents divorce were three times as likely to have seen their mums and dads fighting than the adults realised, while significant numbers had turned to drink, drugs and self-harm as a result of their family break-up.

Youngsters were also more than twice as likely to blame themselves for the break-up than their parents realised – four out of five of the adults surveyed thought their children had ‘coped well’. When asked the same question, only a third of the children thought the same way.

Less than a fifth of the children said they were happy that their parents were no longer together and a third described themselves as still being ‘devastated’ about it, yet many children said they had concealed their real feelings from their mums and dads.

One in twelve children said that post-divorce, they had concluded that their mum or dad did not love them, or had ‘let them down’, with 13 per cent of children blaming themselves.

Shockingly, a fifth of the children surveyed said they had experimented with drink to cope with their parent’s separation, and one in nine had self harmed.

Six per cent said they had even considered suicide, and a third of those had tried to end their lives, but had been stopped in time.

Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard said that divorce ‘may be a little word but it has a huge effect’.

“It is estimated that one in three children see their parents separate before the age of 16,” she said.

“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.

“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.”

And as we approach ‘D Day‘ – the day solicitors expect to see a 30 per cent spike in divorce enquiries following the Christmas break – Siobhan suggested that mums and dads are open and honest with their kids.

“Instead of D Day, this year let’s have T day and talk to our children about their emotional needs, if your relationship is in danger of breaking down,” she said.

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About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

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