Divorcing parents are unaware of the effects of their separation on their children

The online parenting organisation, Netmums, has conducted a survey that suggests that parents who are divorcing are in denial about the actual effects of their separation on their children.

The results of this extensive study that utilised separate surveys for both 1000 parents and 100 children, found that the children were three times as likely to have seen their parents fighting than the adults had ever realised.

Moreover, one in five of the children admitted that they had experimented with drinking to cope and that one in nine children had self-harmed. Significantly it was found that six percent of the children had even considered suicide and that a third of these children had actually tried but were stopped in time. Getting on for a third of under 18s who were surveyed said that they were ‘devastated’ by their parents divorce.

They study also showed that children were more than twice as likely to blame themselves for the end of their parents’ marriage as the adults were to notice that this is what their children were thinking.

This survey has exposed that children hide their true feelings from their parents. As to how the children rationalised the divorce of their parents, one in twelve children explained that they had concluded that it meant their parents did not love them. Another thirteen percent of the children blamed themselves which only five percent of the parents surveyed realised. Just 14 per cent of children felt that they could be honest with their parents about how upset they had been by their parents’ separation

However, it appears that youngsters are able to cope better than their parents, with wider social views of broken families – a remarkable 64% of the children surveyed agreed that divorce was “not seen as a big deal” – in contrast, just 28% of their parents shared that view

From this survey it can be observed that the real effects of divorce on children can be devastating and that most parents do not realise what their children are actually going through.

This blog entry, of course, comes hot on the heels of the earlier blog dated April 4 about a survey conducted by Relate , which concluded that divorce had a very damaging effect on many children. Although we’ve said it before, we think this latest survey provides yet more evidence of the important role family mediation has to play relationship breakdown – at least for those parents who are able to put a space in the mediation process. For them working alongside trained family mediators offers a genuinely quicker and far less acrimonious way of handling the legal issues surrounding relationship breakdown – which is good for parents and particularly good for their children.

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