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Parents’ arguments damage children’s life chances

Parents who frequently argue can affect their child’s chances of success later in life, a charity has suggested.

Research by child development support group the Early Intervention Foundation’s (EIF) reviewed the outcomes of a wide range of government programmes aimed at helping children. During this review, they found that children who witness “severe, ongoing and unresolved” conflict between their parents can become aggressive and violent. They are also more likely to develop low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. In some extreme cases they can even become suicidal.

As a result, such children do not do as well in school and can also struggle to develop positive relationships. Such difficulties can have a significant impact on a child’s “long term life chances”, the EIF claimed.

EIF Chief Executive Carey Oppenheim said that a couple’s “ability to resolve conflict [has] a huge influence” on their children’s future. He called for more to be done “to encourage couples to seek support and make services available to them”. It is “vital to ensure we avoid missing a crucial piece of the jigsaw in improving children’s mental health and future life chances” he added.

The research was conducted with the help of University of Sussex psychology professor Gordon Harold. He said their results showed that “conflict between parents affects an array of negative mental health and poor outcomes for children, including reduced academic attainment”.

Next month, the EIF will host a national conference called ‘Recognising Risks, Supporting Brighter Futures’ in London. Details are available here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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