A survey conducted by the family law organization Resolution found that kids of divorced parents do not think parents should “stay together for the children.” The poll revealed that 82% of the children aged 14 to 22 and who had been through their parents’ divorces said they would rather have their parents happy separately than to be unhappy together.
Owen Bowcott of The Guardian said they added they would rather their parents divorce if they are unhappy and that it was better that parents divorce because ultimately children often find it was for the best.
When the participants were asked what advice they would give parents who were divorcing, one subject said:
“Don’t stay together for a child’s sake, better to divorce than stay together for another few years and divorce on bad terms.”
The results showed that kids want to be more involved in decisions made during the divorce proceedings, but over 60% said their parents did not prioritize including them in the decision-making process. Also, 31% said they would have liked to have seen their parents criticizing one another less, and 30% said they would have liked their parents understand how it felt to be in the middle of the process.
Fifty percent of the kids said they were not engaged in the discussion concerning which parent they would live with or in what location they would live. An overwhelming 88% believed that it was important to make sure kids do not feel they have to choose sides between mom and dad.
About half the subjects did not know what was taking place with their parents while 19% said they sometimes thought the divorce or separation was their fault. Fifty percent of the young people said their parents put their needs first. The survey included 514 young people who had experienced parental divorce or the separation of a long-term cohabiting relationship.
Most of the young people had good relationships with their mothers and wider family members after the break-up. But Stephen Naysmith, writing for The Herald Scotland, says the study showed that the relationship with their fathers worsened for almost half of all kids. About 50% said their relationship with their mother improved, but just 19% said the same for their fathers.
Sue Atkins, an author and parenting expert, said:
“As the long distance parent, dads must work hard to maintain their relationship with their child. They may feel angry that this task falls on their shoulders since they may not have initiated the divorce in the first place and it’s easy to feel like a victim and spend their time and energy blaming their ex. But being a long distance parent doesn’t mean that a dad has to automatically disappear from their child’s life.”
But Steve Doughty reports for The Daily Mail that a furor has arisen over the poll. This information from the most influential organization of divorce lawyers was not taken well by supporters of the institution of marriage. Sir Paul Coleridge, a former High Court family judge, called the conclusions “shocking and irresponsible.” He believes that children who have been through a family breakdown want nothing more than for the family to stay together or get back together.
Jo Edwards, chairman of Resolution, which represents 6,500 family lawyers in England and Wales, said it was not the divorce itself that led to problems for children — it was being exposed to conflict and uncertainty. She stated that settling divorces out of court with a mediator is the best way to end a marriage.
The Family Law website published Resolution’s Parenting Charter to share the most important measures necessary for children going through a divorce. Parents should include children in decision-making that involves their lives. Make sure children feel loved and cared for by both parents. Allow children to have contact with both sides of their families, and free children from pressures that should only concern parents such as financial concerns.