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Letter: When families split

Sir: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's feature on the children of split families (Comment, 24 June) is a timely view about the way children experience family change, but misses some crucial points.

The "cult of ruthless self-fulfilment" that the piece identifies as a key theme among parents goes contrary to our experience at ParentLine/the National Stepfamily Association. Many of the parents who contact us carry guilt at what they perceive is their failure to keep a family together. They are concerned about the effects on their children and many struggle in silence rather than seek support and risk being seen as irresponsible or uncaring.

We have also found that children within these families don't want to hide the issues. New research, to be launched next week, has revealed that children prefer an open acknowledgement of the issues and want to be involved in decisions about their future.

As we face the next millennium, we know that the key will not be to stop family breakdown but to accept that change happens and that parents and children need help to deal with it. Once the talking stars, the hurt will ease.


Chief Executive


London EC1