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The effects of parental separation on children

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

With the rise of parental separation, it is estimated that one in three children in the UK will experience parental separation before the age of 16. Facts and evidence show that approximately one-half of couples divorcing in 2010 had at least one child aged under 16, and over a fifth were under the age of five. Parental separation has and can affect children and has risen from 82,000 in 1971 to 100,000 in 2009.

It has been stated that children of separated parents will experience greater poverty. When parents separate, there are factors to consider that the child may go through. Such as:

1) In terms of social, emotional and cognitive development, studies have shown that children will have worse outcomes of these factors.

2) It is important to understand that children can suffer from psychological and physical health problems. Other issues can occur whether it is whilst the separation is taking place or in the future. This could be behavioural problems, anti-social behaviour and participation in substance misuse.

3) School grades and attendance can lower therefore, future job employment prospects can decrease. Along with this, research also shows that children of separated parents are less likely to have successful relationships in the future.

However, not all children of separated parents encounter issues. Long term effects do not always occur. It is how separation is handled and how good the stability is for the child after the separation. If the separated parents can be civil and not dysfunctional, it can minimise disruption amongst the child.

There is evidence to suggest that the effects on children can be limited. Although there is no comprehensive formula to provide positive outcomes, a number of key factors seem to be associated with this:

  • Competent and warm parenting from both parents
  • Continuing good relations and co-operation between parents
  • Social support for the child such as extended family and friends

Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that boys find parental separation more upsetting to begin with. However, girls are more likely to encounter long term effects. Older boys and girls can sometimes find it harder adjusting to step families than younger children. Although this may be true, younger children may not be aware of marital problems therefore, parental separation can be more of a shock. This can then lead the child to self-blame, confusion and anxiety. Therefore, there are a number of factors that can produce negative outcomes, this can include:

  • Maternal mental health
  • Financial hardship
  • A continued high level of conflict between both parents
  • A lack of post-separation contact
  • A lack of open communication between parent and child about the separation
  • Recurring changes in family circumstances

KNBP’s core interest is the child therefore, it is crucial to minimise factors that can disrupt your child’s life. The better the separation is dealt with, the better the child will react. Communication is key, if your child underdstands the separation to an extent, depending on age, there can be more positive outcomes.


Source: OneplusOne

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