Do Babies Cause Divorce?
Do Babies Cause Divorce?
My submission to this week’s Tomorrow’s Child Exhibition in Parliament – part of the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto – was created as a reflection of my role as the UK’s “Alternative Divorce Guide”, and is a series of videos under the title of “Do Babies Cause Divorce?”
Family breakdown has been estimated to cost the taxpayer almost £46 Billion a year through effects on health, extra housing support, lost work hours, legal aid and other related factors. That’s more than we spend on defence.
The focus in these short films is on how during the first 1001 days, divorce and family separation has a range of effects upon the new life – and therefore the family as a whole, and society – both financially, health-wise and also on a deeper level of ethics/humanity.
I draw upon scientific research, interviews with experts (eg. psychotherapists, family mediators), I include some of the artwork from artists involved in the Tomorrow’s Child exhibition, and the creative expression of children who have experienced the effects of divorce.
Consequences of family breakup
I discovered some frightening statistics during my research:
27% of UK couples that were cohabiting when their child was born will have separated by the time the child is aged 5.
And 9% of couples that were married when their child was born will have separated by their child’s 5th birthday.
Do Babies Cause Divorce Part 1
Up to 10 per cent of new fathers are experiencing depression in the six months after a baby’s birth – with little support available from health professionals.
A review of studies by the Father Involvement Research Alliance shows that children of involved fathers do better academically. They are also less likely
to have behaviour problems at school and to experience depression. Canadian scientists believe growing up in a fatherless household could permanently alter the structure of the brain and produce children who are more aggressive. Dr Gabriella Gobbi of McGill University in Canada said that the main impacts were seen in the prefrontal cortex.
More than one million children in the UK currently have no contact with their father while they are growing up, a figure that is growing by 20,000 a year.
Scientists claim that Mothers who are stressed out in pregnancy ‘transmit’ the effect to their unborn baby as early as 17 weeks. Pregnant women undergoing the trauma of a marital breakup may experience fluctuations in blood pressure that adversely affect the foetus. A distraught mother may likely deliver a depressed or distraught infant that may require intensive postnatal care due to a low birth weight or underdeveloped organs.
A study of English mothers-to-be found that going through a major upheaval, such as a bereavement or separation, dramatically raised the odds of their baby suffering ill health by the age of four. Previous research has linked stress in the womb with lowering the unborn child’s IQ and raising the odds of hyperactivity, emotional problems and disobedience.
Studies show the children of highly stressed and anxious pregnant women were at double the risk of hyperactivity and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) at the age of four. Anxiety in pregnancy seems to have greater effects than antenatal depression.
Research also shows that children of separated couples are less likely to have successful relationships themselves as adults.
Demographic studies show that more than 40 percent of children born to two parents can expect to live in a single-parent family by the time they are 18. Parenthood seems to provoke the spike in the divorce and separation statistics, with roughly a fifth of all marriages ending within five years after the birth of the first child.
But despite these frightening statistics, with the right education and support, there are so many holistic ways for families to mitigate the effects of family separation on their children, and in some cases, even to potentially prevent the separation in the first place.
Do Babies Cause Divorce Part 2
The films take us through a journey of the every day pressures on families and how those challenges can be relieved through knowing where to get help, and by communities becoming more aware of the huge impact on families of these new lives coming into being.
That this is a responsibility that we should all share for the benefit of our society as a whole, and of the children that we raise within it.
CoParenting in a Box
Suzy Miller is the UK’s unique ‘Alternative Divorce Guide’, Public Speaker and Trainer, featured on Radio 4 Women’s Hour, the Daily Mail and C5’s The Vanessa Show.
Suzy also has created CoParenting in a Box – a unique online resource being made available to thousands of UK employees via the employee benefits provider Perkbox.
SuzyMillerCreator of Best Way To Divorce. International Divorce Divorce Strategist and TEDx Speaker.
6th March 2022
4th June 2023
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