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: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

After Savile, we must devote our energies to stopping the child abuse taking place now

Mary Dejevsky
A ‘hugely irritated’ Sir Malcolm Rifkind on his way home from Parliament on Monday  

Before rushing to criticise Malcolm Rifkind, do you know how much being an MP can cost?

Isabel Hardman
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower