Shared residency boosts wellbeing of children

Family|January 27th 2016

Children whose parents share care and residence are happier than the offspring of single parents, Swedish researchers have claimed.

In a study with the wordy title Psychological complaints among children in joint physical custody and other family types: Considering parental factors, researchers from Stockholm University and the nearby Karolinska Institutet examined demographic data relating to 4,684 children living in Sweden. The youngsters were divided into three categories: those living with both parents in a shared residence arrangement; those living with a single parent; and those living within intact ‘nuclear’ families.

In order to assess their mental wellbeing, the subjects were polled on their emotional states in situations involving their parents : did they feel angry, nervous, tense, sad? Did they sometimes struggle to concentrate?

The team found no meaningful difference in the emotional wellbeing of children who divided their time between parents in a shared care arrangement and those who lived in conventional two parent families. But those who lived with single parents did display a higher level of “psychological complaints”. The financial status of the various families and the health of the parents were both taken into account when assessing the results.

The researchers concluded:

“Psychological complaints were lower among adolescents in joint physical custody than in adolescents in sole parental care. The difference was not explained by parental ill-health or socioeconomic variables.”

The research was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Public Health.

Image by Frank Boston via Flickr

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  1. Saskia says:

    I think most people agree that shared parenting is the optimal solution for separated parents. However in UK family courts this assumption often takes primacy to safeguarding. The assumption in domestic abuse cases should always be that there is risk to child welfare and this should take primacy until properly assessed. Women’s Aid published a report last week detailing the fatal consequences when PD12 guidance is not followed.

    • Paul Apreda says:

      Hi Saskia – you make some interesting points. The difficulty is the proliferation of false allegations of DV being made in the Family Court, which deprive children of their rights under Article 9 of the UNCRC. The information from Women’s Aid was also very interesting. Clearly child safety is the paramount consideration. Children are killed in motor accidents and every death is a terrible tragedy – BUT – you wouldnt consider banning cars to ensure children were protected. I suppose a more direct consideration could be the number of children killed by single parents . In the US mothers acting alone account for more than a quarter of child fatalities. Fathers account for less than half that number. You coul I suppose draw a conclusion from that that children are safer with their fathers.


    • Luke says:

      You have to be very careful with Women’s Aid figures Saskia, they are not very objective when it comes to men – for instance Lord Justice Wall found :-
      The first is that 29 Child homicides (claimed by Women’s Aid) deals with a 10 year period. Eighteen of the twenty-nine children who were murdered were NOT SUBJECT TO ANY FORM OF COURT PROCEEDINGS (my capitals).
      See what I mean ?

  2. Wistilia says:


    The vast majority of children who are killed each year in this country, are killed by their mothers.

    210 children dying of abuse every 16 months in England.

    3 children a week dying of abuse in England.

    Which puts the Women’s Aid figures into some context.

    ‘Table 4–4 Child Fatalities by Relationship to Their Perpetrators, 2013’ Page 61 – U.S. Children’s Bureau ‘

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