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WHAT ARE WE DOING TO THE CHILDREN?
No one can give a definitive answer to this question, although, as you would expect, it is one which is asked very frequently. It is
almost impossible to answer for two main reasons. Firstly, there is still very little satisfactory research on how parental divorce affects children. Despite, or perhaps because of, the rising divorce rate, there seems to be a conspiracy of silence surrounding its human and social consequences and social scientists have not generally been encouraged to carry out work in this area. Secondly, there are many formidable problems in designing such research, as so many issues and variables are involved. While more reliable data would be of immense value to policy-makers and practitioners working in this area, it will always be impossible to use such findings to predict what will happen in any particular case.
In recent years, there has been a good deal of public discussion of the findings of an American study, Surviving the Breakup by Wallerstein and Kelly (see Appendix 2). Although it offers us a vivid picture of the feelings of a particular group of children about their parents’ divorce, there are important differences between patterns of family life in our own society and those in one of the most affluent areas of the United States.