Divorce may have increased fourfold over the last 24 years, with four out of ten marriagesending in divorce, but the 500 10- to 17-year-olds questioned by Mori, from both one- and two-parent families, retain enormous faith in the sanctity of marriage and want it to stay that way. More than 4 million (34 per cent) "worry a lot" about their parents splitting up.
Two million children are being brought up by a single parent and the number of such families has more than doubled since 1971 - from 9 per cent to 21 per cent. One in three children is born outside marriage.
Lone parenthood has been blamed for the rise in crime rates, psychosocial disorders and poor exam qualifications. Traditional family life is seen as under constant threat.
But the poll, commissioned by Readers' Digest, does not show that children share that view. Four-fifths declared that they would get married themselves one day. The view was shared almost equally between boys (80 per cent) and girls (83 per cent). And children whose parents had separated or divorced are just as likely to consider marriage as those whose parents are still together.
More than seven out of ten children from one-parent families also felt that marriage should be forever, and nearly 60 per cent believe it is better to live with two parents than one.
Karin Pappenheim, of the National Council For One Parent Families, said: "Marriage remains the norm and most young people reflect the idea. It shows that the majority of lone parents and children have not chosen to be in those circumstances, but it has been forced upon them. But their practical experience does give the lie to their ideal of getting married forever. The tragedy is their ideal is later shattered by marriage breakdown."Reuse content