Shared Parenting Information Group (SPIG) UK
- promoting responsible shared parenting after separation and divorce -
Children living in re-ordered families (review)
Monica Cockett and John Tripp (1994)
Social Policy Research Findings No.45, February 1994 - Joseph Rowntree Foundation
Children whose families undergo a series of disruptions and changes are
more likely to experience social, educational and health problems than
those whose families remain intact. A study by Monica Cockett and John
Tripp of Exeter University, based on interviews with children and parents
in contrasted family settings, concludes that:
- Children whose families had been 're-ordered' by separation or divorce were more likely than children from intact families to have encountered health problems (especially psychosomatic disorders), to have needed extra help at school, to have experienced friendship difficulties and to suffer from low self-esteem.
- Where children had experienced three or more different family structures, the 'outcomes' were generally worse than for those living (for the first time) with a lone parent or in a step-family. These children were more likely to describe themselves as 'often unhappy' or 'miserable'.
- Although severe marital conflict and financial hardship were associated with poor outcomes for children, family reorganisation(s) appeared to be the main adverse factor in children's lives.
- Only a small minority of children - one in sixteen - had been prepared for an impending separation or divorce by explanations from both parents.
- Fewer than half the children in re-ordered families had regular contact with the non-resident parent (usually their father). Half the children without any reliable contact did not know where their non-resident parent was living.
- A significant minority of children in re-ordered families had made their own arrangements to keep in contact with their non-resident parent, because the parents themselves had been unable to reach agreement or were not talking to each other.
- Children who had experienced a series of family disruptions were not only least likely to have contact with the non-resident parent, but also received less support from extended family networks.
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