5 indicators of enduring family harmony - Fidelity
the wide-ranging definitions of cohabitation in the current law;; the courts' sex) living as partners in an enduring family relationship (s (4)). The court concluded, being mindful that Parliament "pointedly and specifically decided not to define an enduring relationship in terms of its longevity", concluded. Family Values and Relationships in Adolescence . The parent-child relationship is often considered to be the most enduring and significant.
For reasons of space, the paper focuses rather narrowly on the impact of parental separation on child outcomes, although it also briefly examines the impact of remarriage and multiple family transitions on child wellbeing. Within this constrained purview, however, the paper examines a range of issues that are canvassed in the research literature.
It takes as a starting point the existence of pervasive associations between family change and child outcomes and considers a range of questions that follow from this: Do family changes such as parental separation primarily have short-term impacts on children, or do they also have more enduring impacts? What impacts do frequent changes of family structure have on child outcomes? Are there causal connections between family change and child outcomes or are there other reasons for these associations?
The literature on these questions is large, complex and growing so fast that it is no longer possible even to keep abreast of new papers produced each year, let alone master everything that has been published in the past two decades. This poses a challenge for a brief survey of the literature such as this. It needs to be said that this paper is not based on a systematic review of the literature in this field.
Although I have tried to read widely and without bias, the portion of the literature I have been able to read is necessarily selective — and the portion I can reference in this paper is much more constrained — while the very act of selection has, no doubt, been shaped by my own views and interests. The paper should thus be regarded as no more than a personal reading of the literature.
- This document is available in the following Practice Areas
- Re F & M (Children) (Thai Surrogacy) (Enduring family relationship)  EWHC 1594 (Fam)
- Surrogacy arrangement – the enduring family relationship test
Effects reported include adverse impacts on cognitive capacity Fergusson, Lynskey and Horwoodschooling Evans et al. A further range of impacts in early adulthood and beyond include higher rates of early childbearing McLanahan and Bumpassearly marriage Keith and Finlaymarital dissolution Amato and DeBoerlone parenthood McLanahan and Boothlow occupational status Biblarz and Gottainereconomic hardship McLanahan and Boothpoor-quality relationships with parents Aquilinounhappiness Biblarz and Gottainerdiscontentment with life Furstenberg and Teitlermistrust in others Ross and Mirowskyand reduced longevity Tucker et al.
On the face of it, this seems like a long and forlorn listing, which suggests that parental separation bears down heavily on children and blights their lives to a significant degree across all domains of functioning. Yet the picture is not as bleak as this litany of problems might suggest. In most cases the size of the reported effects is small; a minority of children are negatively affected, generally only in the presence of other exacerbating factors; and in many cases the existence of a causal connection is contested and other competing explanations for these associations have been put forward.
In other words, it is important to be cautious in interpreting the meaning of these patterns of association. Many scholars who have identified associations between family structure and family change and child outcomes have drawn attention to the relatively small size of the effects. There is a wide diversity of outcomes among both groups of children from divorced and intact families, and the adjustment of children following divorce depends on a wide range of other factors. Demo and Acock note further that measures of family relations explained the largest proportion of variance in adolescent wellbeing.
The majority of children whose parents have divorced function within normal or average limits in the years after divorce Kelly Furthermore, there is a considerable range of functioning within both groups of children from divorced and intact families. Among children whose parents have divorced are many who are functioning quite well, while among children from intact families are many with major adjustment problems.
In short, there is no one-to-one relationship between divorce and psychological adjustment problems in children.
In fact, not only do some children do well despite the divorce of their parents, but some children actually benefit from the divorce. It is likely, however, that such benefits will accrue only where the altered routines are structured and predictable. Changes that involve the emergence of more chaotic patterns of family life are unlikely to be beneficial for children, even if some strive to furnish a sense of order where their parents fail to do so.
Videon notes that: When adolescents are residentially separated from an unsatisfying same-sex parent relationship … their level of delinquent behaviour is lower than adolescents who continue to reside with a same-sex parent with whom they have a poor relationship. A further circumstance where children may benefit from a parental separation is where a parent exhibits antisocial behaviour.
In contrast, when fathers exhibit high levels of antisocial behaviour, the longer they lived with their children the more conduct problems the children exhibited.
In such cases, children are likely to be receiving a double whammy of genetic and environmental factors that heighten the risk of conduct problems. Nevertheless, despite all these caveats and qualifications, it remains true that children whose parents separate do less well, on average, across a range of measures of wellbeing.
A pressing question that follows from this is why these associations arise. It appears, then, that there is something about the complexity of family life in stepfamilies that hinders them from benefiting from the additional resources that are available when a lone mother remarries. Relationships within stepfamilies are complex and need time and goodwill on all sides to work well.
Unlike the relationship between mother and stepfather, that between stepfather and stepchild is not a relationship of choice, which means that goodwill may sometimes be in short supply, at least in the early stages of establishing a stepfamily. Typically, this uncertainty results in lower levels of involvement: Even so, improvements in stepfamily functioning are evident over time Amatowhich suggests that many families manage to master the challenges they face.
Aquilino reported that the experience of multiple transitions and multiple family types, among a sample of children not born into an intact biological family, was associated with lower educational attainment and greatly increased the likelihood that children would try to establish an independent household and enter the labour force at an early age. The evidence on this, however, is not entirely consistent. It may be that the impact of multiple transitions depends to some extent on the circumstances associated with transitions.
However, other studies have examined effects over longer-term durations, some into adulthood. While there is evidence that many of the difficulties that children encounter as a result of parental separation decline as time passes, there is also evidence that some effects are persistent and enduring. Chase-Lansdale and Hetherington found that during the first two years after a divorce both children and adults experienced pragmatic, physical and emotional problems as well as declines in family functioning.
By two years after the divorce the majority of families had made significant adjustments, although among children there were variations by age and gender.
While girls seemed to recover fully during the primary school years, boys in mother-custody homes exhibited behaviour problems for as long as six years. However, Chase-Lansdale et al. Despite this significant effect, it is important to note that only a minority of people were at such risk: Amato and Keithin a meta-analysis of studies that examined long-term consequences of parental divorce, reported adverse impacts on a range of domains of adult wellbeing, including psychological adjustment, use of mental health services, behaviour and conduct, educational attainment, material quality of life and divorce.
The last effect implies that the risk of a failed marriage is transmitted intergenerationally, a finding that is supported by other studies Mueller and PopeAmato and DeBoerTeachman These increased odds appear to be the end result of a longer chain of effects.
Children whose parents separated have been found to be more likely to engage in early-onset sexual activity, to leave home at an early age, to enter into an intimate partnership at an earlier age and to become parents at an early age.
Early entry into marriage is known to heighten the risk of separation and divorce. In addition, Mueller and Pope hypothesised that these effects arise in part because youthful marriages involve less socially and emotionally mature individuals, are subject to greater economic hardship and receive less social support, both normatively from wider society and from family and kin.
Even though the majority of children of divorced families are functioning within normal ranges or better on a variety of objective measures of adjustment, Kelly notes that divorce can create lingering feelings of sadness, longing, worry and regret. Even if many children do not experience mental health disorders according to a clinical diagnosis, there is no doubt that for most it causes pain and sadness in their lives.
Wallerstein and Corbin draw attention to the period of late adolescence as a time when delayed responses to an earlier parental divorce emerge in young women, giving rise to anxieties in the domain of their relationships with young men.
They also point to adolescence as a period when young women are more sensitive to the relationship between their parents: It is the relationship between the parents, after all, that forms the template for heterosexual relationships and provides the young woman with a basis for her own hopes and expectations … Thus, it may not suffice for divorced parents to refrain from angry fighting.
It may be equally important to their daughters for parents to treat each other fairly and with continued kindness. Five mechanisms will be considered in the following discussion: Each of these mechanisms implies a causal connection between associations between parental separation and adverse child outcomes.
A range of alternative explanations for the associations that do not involve causal connections has also been proposed.
These non-causal explanations are examined in the following section. Income Changes Consequent to Parental Separation The economic circumstances of families decline after divorce, especially among mother-headed families.
Amato outlined a range of ways in which the economic position of a family might exert effects on child wellbeing: As well as having a direct impact on child outcomes, economic factors are also likely to have impacts through indirect pathways.
A number of studies have found that when controls for income are applied, the effects of parental separation decline significantly Carlson and Corcoran or even vanish entirely e.
However, other studies show that the post-separation economic situation of families is not fully responsible for adverse outcomes among children and, moreover, that this has varying impacts on different outcomes.
Wu found that the impact of a change in family structure on the probability of a premarital birth was largely unaffected when controls for income measures were applied, and noted that this suggested that family instability and income have largely independent effects on the probability that a young woman would bear her first child outside marriage. They cite a number of studies that found that even when income is controlled, children in divorced families exhibit more problems than do children in non-divorced families.
They also note that although the income in stepfamilies is only slightly lower than that in non-divorced families, children in these families show a similar level of problem behaviour to that in divorced mother-custody families. They conclude that the effects of income do not seem to be primary and are largely indirect.
Overall, it might be concluded that declines in economic circumstances following separation may explain part, but by no means all, of the poorer outcomes among children who have experienced a parental separation. Paternal Absence Following a parental separation, most children live in the primary custody of one parent, although joint custody arrangements have become increasingly common over recent years.
The cohabitation conundrum
In most cases, the custodial parent is the mother, which means that a significant aspect of the experience of post-separation family life, for most children, is the absence of their father. As Amato notes, the absence of one parent means a deficit in terms of parental time available to do the work of parenting and all the other work in the household, which further restricts the available time for parenting.
Children will also lack exposure both to an adult male role model and to the skills and processes involved in a committed adult relationship, including such things as communication, negotiation, compromise and expression of intimacy although it must be said that many couples in intact relationships model such things imperfectly at least part of the time.
In addition, children are likely to suffer where the absence of their father from the home means that they have lost effective contact with him. Two pieces of evidence, in particular, weigh against it.
First, children whose parents separated do worse than children who have experienced a parental bereavement. Biblarz and Gottainer found that, compared with children of widowed mothers, children of divorced mothers had significantly lower levels of education, occupational status and happiness in adulthood. They found no evidence that divorced mothers were less competent parents than widowed mothers and speculated that the contrasting positions in the social structure of different types of single-mother families may account for observed differences in child outcomes.
In particular, they note that widows occupied an advantaged position in the social structure, in terms of employment, financial position and occupational status, compared with divorced mothers. This suggests that the absence of the father, if it has an effect, has a much weaker effect than that of these economic factors. Secondly, as has already been noted, remarriage does not generally improve the wellbeing of children, despite the gain of another adult to help with the task of parenting.
As a number of studies have noted, outcomes for children in remarried families are generally little different from those of children in sole-parent families. It is important to note also that remarriage generally results in an improvement in economic circumstances.
As noted above, there appears to be something associated with stepfamilies — perhaps the complexities of the new pattern of relationships that need to be established and worked at before the family can settle down into new comfortable ways of living together — that weighs against both the economic gain and the gain of an additional adult figure.
Once again, this suggests that the absence of the father, by itself, does not play a strong role in explaining the differences between children from divorced and intact families.
The pathways that connect separation, maternal mental health and child wellbeing are somewhat complex and are likely to operate via the route of impairments to parenting. The process of separation can take a toll on the mental health of separating parents, which can in turn impair the quality of parenting. On the other hand, where custodial mothers are psychologically able to provide a loving, effective parent—child relationship, children will be buffered from the stress divorce engenders and will tend to prosper developmentally Kalter et al.
However, when economic deprivation, interparental hostility and the burdens of single parenting take their toll on the mental health of custodial mothers, children will tend to fare less well. Interparental Conflict The connection between marital separation and marital conflict is complex. Clearly the two factors are interrelated, in that at the time of a marital dissolution the separating partners are likely to be at odds and many are involved in serious conflict. Hanson reported that about half of all couples who divorced exhibited high levels of conflict beforehand, compared with about one-quarter of families who remained continuously married.
However, the connection between marital separation and marital conflict is not at all straightforward, since some partners manage to separate on relatively amicable terms, while many marriages survive for long periods despite the presence of ongoing conflict. To understand the relationship between marital conflict and separation, it is important to distinguish between conflict that precedes the separation and conflict that follows the separation.
Many families experience conflict both before and after separation, so it is not possible to draw a clear demarcation in this way. Nevertheless, in some cases a prolonged period of conflict is terminated when parents separate, while in other cases the separation itself provokes a round of conflict which may persist for years afterward. The evidence about the impact of separation and pre-separation conflict is somewhat complex. First, both marital conflict and separation have been found to be independently associated with child outcomes.
Peterson and Zill found that marital conflict in intact homes, especially if persistent, was as harmful as separation. Indeed, they found that scores on measures of overcontrolled and undercontrolled behaviour of children living amid persistent conflict were even higher than for those living with one biological parent. However, many studies have also reported the presence of an interaction between separation and conflict, so that in high-conflict families children benefit when their parents divorce, while in low-conflict families children do worse when their parents divorce Amato et al.
Other studies show similar results, although with a twist. Restraint and self-control must be ruling principles in the marriage relationship. Couples must learn to bridle their tongues as well as their passions. Prayer in the home and prayer with each other will strengthen your union. Gradually thoughts, aspirations, and ideas will merge into a oneness until you are seeking the same purposes and goals. Rely on the Lord, the teachings of the prophets, and the scriptures for guidance and help, particularly when there may be disagreements and problems.
Spiritual growth comes by solving problems together—not by running from them. The secret of a happy marriage is to serve God and each other. The goal of marriage is unity and oneness, as well as self-development. Paradoxically, the more we serve one another, the greater is our spiritual and emotional growth.
The first fundamental, then, is to work toward righteous unity. Nurture your children with love and the admonitions of the Lord.
Responsible parenthood is the key. Above all else, children need to know and feel they are loved, wanted, and appreciated. They need to be assured of that often. Obviously, this is a role parents should fill, and most often the mother can do it best. Children need to know who they are in the eternal sense of their identity. They need to know that they have an eternal Heavenly Father on whom they can rely, to whom they can pray, and from whom they can receive guidance.
They need to know whence they came so that their lives will have meaning and purpose. Children must be taught to pray, to rely on the Lord for guidance, and to express appreciation for the blessings that are theirs. I recall kneeling at the bedsides of our young children, helping them with their prayers. Children must be taught right from wrong. They can and must learn the commandments of God.
They must be taught that it is wrong to steal, lie, cheat, or covet what others have. Children must be taught to work at home. They should learn there that honest labor develops dignity and self-respect. They should learn the pleasure of work, of doing a job well. The leisure time of children must be constructively directed to wholesome, positive pursuits. Too much time viewing television can be destructive, and pornography in this medium should not be tolerated.
It is estimated that growing children today watch television over twenty-five hours per week. Communities have a responsibility to assist the family in promoting wholesome entertainment. Families must spend more time together in work and recreation. Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty.
Family study of the scriptures should be the practice in our homes each Sabbath day. Daily devotionals are also a commendable practice, where scripture reading, singing of hymns, and family prayer are a part of our daily routine. Parents must prepare their children for the ordinances of the gospel.
The most important teachings in the home are spiritual. Parents are commanded to prepare their sons and daughters for the ordinances of the gospel: They are to teach them to respect and honor the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Most importantly, parents are to instill within their children a desire for eternal life and to earnestly seek that goal above all else. Eternal life may be obtained only by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
The cohabitation conundrum | New Law Journal
When parents themselves have complied with the ordinances of salvation, when they have set the example of a temple marriage, not only is their own marriage more likely to succeed, but their children are far more likely to follow their example.
Regardless of how modest or humble that home may be, it will have love, happiness, peace, and joy. Children will grow up in righteousness and truth and will desire to serve the Lord. One past Church President gave this counsel to parents: Try today, and tomorrow, to make a change in your home by praying twice a day with your family.
Spend ten minutes … reading a chapter from the words of the Lord in the [scriptures].