Saturday, 29 December 2012

450 out of 1000 children in UK will see parents separate

I was going to write a review of the year but that'll have to wait, besides it's taking longer than I thought. In the meantime.....

This article seems to belong in the Torygraph but actually appears in the Independant!

It talks about how 450 in every 1000 children in Britain today will see their parents separate 

Having had some experience of this, my own parents are divorced, I have both personal and political opinions on this. An acquaintance also once commented that she was far better off due to tax credits after she split from her partner and some other evidence backs this up. - illustrating that the tax credits incentivise people to split up - I doubt this comes into why people split up in a lot of cases, but it can't help. The figures are before maintenance as well.....

The article goes on to wax lyrical about marriage, which although I'm pretty much in favour of marriage for me personally, I don't think it's the only answer. Plenty of people want to stay together, commit to each other and have children without marrying and I think that's just fine, for them - as long as that's what they both want. As a friend pointed out, marriage doesn't necessarily mean commitment. And committing to each other doesn't necessarily have to mean marriage, tho in my mind they are linked.

What a lack of interest in marriage may signal is a lack of interest in commitment tho, and that is a different matter. The idea of committing to having children but not staying together to me seems backwards, but I do make effort to try and understand it. I guess because the drive to have kids is so strong, and the drive to work with someone else to build a life together can be..... less strong. It involves a bit of setting aside what you want. It involves loving an adult, and an adult can both make their own decision to leave you, and also argue back - it's a lot harder than loving a family member. 

It's really, really, really hard to form another relationship if one or both people have kids tho, but I do know some people who've managed it. It involves all sorts of dynamics that we haven't really evolved to handle, and that psychotherapists are only just coming up with now.

The startling thing is we are so much worse than the other OECD countries..... that goes against a lot of the received wisdom that

a) this is just because human beings aren't meant to commit or be monogamous
b) children are just as happy when parents separate because "they adapt"
c) people in more advanced countries are more likely to separate
d) If the other person doesn't magically "make you happy" you must look elsewhere and not within

If personal growth, maturity, commitment  love, trust, respect and honesty could be taught, how much better would we get on? What's the research on this? Do people take responsibility for making a relationship work? Do they take responsibility for themselves and own their feelings and understanding of each other - or is it all left to some mythical person who may not exist to "complete" them?

I'm worried that in effect we contract out our emotions to be based on some ideal person, don't understand the impact our parents have on us and our search for a partner, and also, more and more, the 1 in 3 men under 35 that live at home, an consequently don't really learn to co-exist with anyone they aren't related to, and who therefore are extremely unlikely to leave them - meaning the worst of behaviour goes unchecked ergo difficulty in relationships in the future......

One problem has begat another - initially people were staying in loveless marriages either because they couldn't get divorced for financial reasons and/or social stigma. Now we have people leaving relationships after a few years and children growing up being shuffled from house to house, which isn't really ideal either. I'm sure most people do the absolute best that they know how under the circumstances and I wouldn't presume to judge them, but I'm also wondering how many people would access therapy if it was available at a reasonable cost....

On a squeezed income, which families are going to go without food or heating to pay the £40 a week most therapists ask for? Relate offer subsidized sessions, but are very over-subscribed. 

Is it time we asked ourselves what type of society we want, whether we can try and give parents tools to try and stay together and whether that would cost more than the tax credits we are paying out at present to support children in separated families. Are we really happier this way?

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