UK Family Law Reform

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-----Original Message-----
From: rwhiston
Sent: 19 August 2005 01:05
To: S.J.Callan@lboro.ac.uk
Subject: Care for the Family Briefing paper

Dear Samantha,

I was very pleased to receive your email and found its contents helpful. I have been on several Whitehall committees over the years and I have often appeared a lone voice in promoting the view that some parents are better then none, or state-paid parents. I'm sure I don't have to tell you that the received wisdom is DV orientated and politically correct, so that any fears have to be treated as always most serious and separation almost mandatory.

I was particularly heartened by the "strong sense of powerlessness" phrase which is one I have also advocated. It has become apparent to me that 'for the sake of the children' is often code for other lines of action to be sanctioned. In this regard I have found children charities disconcertingly silent when in committee.

Two other studies that it would like to bring to your attention to underline the point (though you may already know of hem) is firstly, the Exeter Report (Tripp, 1996). This showed that it was not the arguments and conflict before or after the divorce that impacted most on children but the sudden deprivation of their father from the family home and their lives. A second is a quote from Wallerstein & Blakeslee ('Second Chances', 1989), "Children of divorce soon taught us very early on that to be separated from their fathers was intolerable."

These two observations, in concert with your contribution, cut through all the verbiage written about the misery caused by the "processes" of divorce and the blessings of lone parenthood, because such value judgements are premised on the adult's perspective.

Yours truly,

Robert Whiston

-----Original Message-----
From: S.J.Callan@lboro.ac.uk
Sent: 18 August 2005 16:13
To: rwhiston; Rowena.Shaw@cff.org.uk
Subject: Care for the Family Briefing paper

Dear Robert,

Thanks for your query on this interesting 'stat'. I collated these figures and wrote the paper. I looked back through my records and I logged the piece under the following entry:

http://www.divorce-online.co.uk/

Daily Mail 23/1/01

Major study says that children prefer warring parents to stay together - 7/10 youngsters backed this view in the three-year Health Dept funded project by London Univ's Institute of Education. Lots of detail of findings. Strong sense of powerlessness felt by many children who had experienced family breakdown. Children from two-parent families tended to have more friends. Children also wanted to have pa at home when they returned fr school (survey was of 10 - 12 yr olds). An almost equal no of boys and girls said they would work p/t to make time especially for younger children.

The full research report is called Connecting Children: Care and Family Life in Later Childhood (Brannen, Heptinstall and Bhopal). The London based study covered a multi-ethnic sample of nearly one thousand 10 to 12 year olds who were going through an important transition in their own lives - transfer from primary to secondary school.

The researchers conducted a questionnaire survey with these children, as well as 63 interview based case studies from four different types of family: two parent, lone mother, step father and foster care. The study drew upon a variety of methods - questionnaires, in-depth interviews, vignettes and visual 'maps' of children's social networks and families.

I read the short version of the report, called Care and Family Life in Later Childhood, and it mentioned that "a majority of children" when shown a vignette of arguing parents said that the departing father should not leave the family. However, given the tenor of the rest of the research paper I think it is possible that the "preferring warring parents to stay together" might have been a journalistic rather than academic interpretation. It is hard to tell without looking at the full report.

I hope you will be able to find out more information as required from the leads I have given you.

Samantha Callan
Research Consultant
8 Upper Green
Loughborough
LE11 3SG
Tel/Fax: 01509 218757
S.J.Callan@lboro.ac.uk

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