Arguing parents upset children more than those who separate
Parents who argue are more likely to make their children unhappy than those who live apart, a report has claimed.
Conflict within a family causes children 10 times more distress than living in single parents households, the study by the Children’s Society concluded.
Of 7,000 children aged 10 to 15 who were surveyed, those who said their family "gets along well together" were found to be on average around 20 per cent happier than those who did not, regardless of their family structure.
By contrast, children living in lone parent households were said to be 2 per cent unhappier than those living with both birth parents.
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of the Children’s Society, said: “In terms of marriage, this report shows that children living with married couples do report slightly higher levels of wellbeing, but it’s not significant. What really matters to children is that their parents get along, whether they live together or not.”
The findings contradict a 2007 report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the think tank founded by the former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, which made a clear link between marriage and the wellbeing of children.
The survey, conducted by YouGov, found that children who did not grow up in two-parent families were 75 per cent more likely to fail educationally, 70 per cent more likely to become addicted to drugs, and 50 per cent more likely to develop an alcohol problem.
But Maria Miller, shadow minister for family, said yesterday the that new findings show good relationships in the home are just as important to a child's wellbeing as living with married parents.
"This report highlights yet again that the strength of family life is determined by the relationships within that family. The most important influence on our childhood is the family we grow up in. Good parenting and good relationships between parents is critical in shaping the next generation," she said.
The new findings from the Children's Society, in collaboration with the University of York, have been released a year on from the publication of the Good Childhood Inquiry, a landmark independent report into modern childhood commissioned by children's charity. Source