Amicable divorce 'is just as damaging for children': Impact of a split on youngsters is same if couple remain friends or not (?)
Groan! More lazy and hence inconclusive research. The data was parental reports, nothing else. It shows that all divorced parents are prone to see their kids as damaged but it tells you nothing about which were in fact damaged. The journal article is "Postdivorce Coparenting Typologies and Children's Adjustment"
Divorcing parents who try to maintain an amicable relationship for the sake of their children are doing nothing to help them, a major study suggests.
The impact of the split on youngsters is the same whether or not the mother and father keep cordial links, it found.
The findings undermine a Government-backed consensus that the harm caused to children by separating parents can be limited if the couple remain friends.
Three Whitehall ministries are currently ploughing money into supporting a policy on divorce and family break-up which says that it is conflict between the parents and not their separation itself that harms children. The new study, the first in 20 years to examine how the behaviour of separated parents affects their children, was carried out by US academics.
It covered 270 parents who were divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004 in an unnamed US state that compels divorcees to take part in an education programme on ‘co-operative co-parenting’.
Of these, 31 per cent considered their relationship with their ex-spouse as ‘co-operative and involved’; 45 per cent were ‘moderately engaged’ with their divorced partner, with some conflict between them; and 24 per cent said their co-operation was ‘infrequent but conflictual’.
They were asked to say how their break-up had affected the youngest child in their family. The average age of children involved was eight years.
The study, published in the academic journal Family Relations, said that children of divorced parents are more likely than others to suffer ‘external’ symptoms such as behaviour problems or drug abuse, more likely to have ‘internal’ difficulties like anxiety or depression, and more likely to do badly at school.
But the researchers, headed by Dr Jonathon Beckmeyer of Indiana University, found that these children’s problems were no worse if their parents continued to row and bicker with each other after the divorce.
The study said ‘despite the expectation that children fare better’ if their divorced parents develop a co-operative relationship, the behaviour of children as assessed by their parents ‘did not significantly differ’ between the friendly and the fighting groups of divorcees.
Divorced parents should be reassured that their children will not be more seriously harmed if they fail to establish a cordial and co-operative relationship with their former husband or wife, it added.