Anything that makes divorce harder gets my vote

For the sake of their children, parents must try hard to stick together

Share
Related Topics

Divorce damages children. In 2009, a judge quoted the notorious words of Philip Larkin at a couple whose acrimonious split he felt was harming their child: ‘They f**k you up your mum and dad / They don't mean to, but they do'.

These lines resound in divorce cases across the country. So anything which might, just might, make couples think twice about parting gets my vote.

A cheer or two, therefore, for the new law enshrined in this week’s Children and Families Bill. It specifies that couples heading for the divorce courts must, in future, attend a ‘mediation information and assessment meeting’. If that saves one marriage or makes life better for a single child then, all other considerations apart, it’s worth doing.  

Children are supposed to have two parents. Biology is unequivocal. And they really should be working as a team in the same household if children are to have the best chance in life.

A report from the Government-backed Economic and Social Research Council, led by Professor Mel Bartley in November 2012, found that children whose parents remain married (or by extension together but unmarried, I suppose) are less likely to suffer from asthma, to become overweight, or to be injured by accidents before they are five than children whose background is less stable. And, the report states that it all gets physically, mentally and socially worse when the children hit their teens and the effects of parental breakup in childhood go on biting for the rest of the child’s life.

It’s pretty damning stuff, based on the large scale British Cohort Studies which looks at people born in 1946, 1958, 1970 and, most recently, the 2000 Millennium Study. And it’s far from the only evidence.

The trouble is that divorce and separation is now such ‘normal’ behaviour – at 15 almost half of all British children have seen their parents part – that few people stop to think about the alternatives or the potential long-term damage caused by their decisions.

Instead separating parents blithely assure themselves – and perhaps each other – that the children will be fine, that it will be better for them in the long run and other such comfortable but phoney clichés.

Of course there are exceptions - domestic violence for example. No adult or child should be trapped in a household where one member uses physical or mental violence against one or more of the others. Even the new law about having to attend mediation excludes couples from the requirement where this is a factor.

And personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about childless couples. As two adults without juvenile dependents they can, as far as I’m concerned, do what they want. So if you want to be free to walk in and out of relationships at will follow (the childless) Larkin’s bitter advice: ‘Get out as early as you can./ Don’t have any kids yourself.’

But once you choose to bring a child into the world your life is no longer your own. And it’s high time we all accepted that.

Read more: Chloe Hamilton - Parents who stay together for their children are making a mistake

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Wilbur, the pig who thinks he's a dog (Dom Joly)  

My hilarious pet pig Wilbur is more popular than I am — so I'll let him bring home the bacon

Dom Joly
 

Amazon's new 'payment by the page' policy will just result in longer but likely worse literature

Katy Guest
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'