Earlier today I returned to the ITV This Morning for a reunion with hosts Philip Schofield and Amanda Holden.
It hadn’t been long since my last appearance, when I was invited to discuss parenting disputes and then runaway Mum Rebecca Minnock. This time the topic was very different: the onset of the school holidays and the pressures and family stresses these can bring. For happy couples, those long sunny weeks can be time of joy and fun but for those caught up in more troubled relationships or struggling to raise their children, the picture can be a much less rosy one. Money worries are also an issue for many, as we discovered in a survey of more than 2,000 readers last year.
I was invited onto the This Morning sofa with Relate counsellor Arabella Russell to discuss this sometimes difficult time, which helps to fuel a regular September spike in divorce and separations.
We offered what advice we could. My own belief is that while holidays will reveal or throw into sharp relief any existing cracks in your relationship, they do not cause them. If a relationship is on the rocks it is on the rocks. A holiday can add to the pressure but a fundamentally good relationship will survive the summer holidays. A bad one meanwhile may well end up in the divorce courts. All that extra time together often just serves to confirm to people that their relationship has no future.
The September spike in divorce enquiries is one of two seasonal jumps often reported by family lawyers. The other is in January immediately after Christmas, another time of enforced family togetherness which can throw an unwelcome spotlight onto problems in a relationship. However, I have found that September is typically the time when people really go for it and push ahead with their divorce or separation. Often they have made the decision before the summer holidays even began. Enquiries in January by contrast, are more often a way of blowing steam and people often do not taken things any further once they return to their normal daily routines.
It doesn’t surprise me to hear so many people cite financial worries as a summer holiday pressure. The cost of childcare in this country is so ridiculously high that of course many working parents will struggle to pay for all those extra hours. I was one of those lucky parents who was able to bring my child into work during the summer holidays but for most that simply isn’t possible.