Children are three times more likely to witness rows and arguments between divorcing parents than their mothers and fathers realise, a new study suggests.
Mothering website Netmums carried out separate surveys of parent and children on their experiences of divorce. Just ten per cent of parents said they though their children had seen them fighting, while 31 per cent of the children had actually done so.
Seventy-seven per cent of the parents said they thought their children had “coped well” with the divorce but less than 18 per cent of the children said they were happy that their parents were no longer together.
Almost one third of the children said they had been left “devastated” by the divorce. One in eight blamed themselves for the divorce, and one in 12 said they thought the divorce meant their parents didn’t love them.
The study also highlighted coping behaviours used by some of the children of divorce – 20 per cent drank, 11 per cent self-harmed, and three per cent took drugs.
Netmums founder Siobhan Freegard says: “Divorce may be a little word but it has a huge effect. It’s estimate that one in three children see their parents separate before the age of 16. 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.”
“While divorce maybe the best thing for many families, we have to ensure children are helped to understand the split isn’t their fault and that they are still loved. 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.”