Netmums’s new report reveals separating parents are in denial about the impact their divorce can have on their children. They surveyed 1000 parents and 100 children separately and the key points from the research follow:
- Only 14 per cent of children were able to be honest with their parents about how upset they felt.
- Concerningly, two in five (39%) said they ‘hide their feelings from their parents as they don’t want to upset them’ while one in five felt ‘there was no point in telling my parents how I feel as they are too wrapped up in themselves’
- One in 12 felt forced to look after the parent as the relationship broke down while more than a third (35%) claimed one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other.
- Almost a third of under 18s described themselves as ‘devastated’ by their parents divorce while one in 12 thought it meant their parents ‘didn’t love them’ and had ‘let them down’. One in eight (13%) blamed themselves for the split.
- The trauma of the spilt was so bad for some youngsters that 31 per cent witnessed their parents fighting while one in 20 (five per cent) drank, and three per cent took drugs to cope. Shockingly, one in nine self-harmed (11 per cent).
- A further six per cent considered suicide and one in 50 tried it but was found in time.
From a parent’s perpective
- By contrast, only five per cent of parents realised their children blamed themselves for the split, and one in ten thought their kids were ‘relieved’ they left their partner
- 10% of parents realised their child had seen them fighting – three times lower than the true figure.
- 8% admitted they had tried to turn their child against the other parent, almost four times lower than reported by the children.
- 77% of separated couples think their kids coped well – but only 18% of children are happy their parents are no longer together.
- Over a third claim one of their warring parents tried to turn them against the other – but only eight% of mums and dads admit to it.
- One in five youngsters drank and one in nine self-harmed to cope – but just one in 100 parents knew
- Furthermore, only one in ten parents knew their children were hiding their true feelings – and fewer than 1% were savvy enough to realise their child was drinking, self harming or doing drugs to cope.
Coping and moving on
- On a more positive note, children coped better than adults with how wider society views broken families, as more than double the number of youngsters thought divorce was ‘not seen as a big deal’ (64%) compared to parents (28%).
- Over half (53%) of mums and dads were worried their families would be judged but just 27% of kids agreed. And double the number of parents thought divorce meant they had failed (18%) compared just nine per cent of children who felt the same.
- The study also showed the most common way to tell children parents were splitting was for mum to tell them face to face (28%) followed by both parents telling them together (24%). But 13% overheard it during a row and 1% were told by text.
- Once a decision was made by the parents to break up, two in five parents left that day with a further 18% fleeing the family home within a week.
FUTHER HELP AND SUPPORT
NFM is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family
If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can also contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.
All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.
You can also visit the Netmums Drop-in Clinic to ask questions and be supported by a Netmums parent supporter.