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Arguing parents damage children’s long term life chances

Children that are exposed to parental conflict will have poorer life chances and are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, new research has revealed.
Carried out by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and the University of Sussex for the Department of Work and Pensions, the review found that children’s long-term life chances are put at risk if the relationship between their parents is repeatedly hostile.
It claimed that children who witness continued and severe parental conflict can be aggressive and violent, while others can develop low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and, in extreme cases, be suicidal.
“Our new research shows that quality inter-parental relationships – regardless of whether the couple is together or not – and the ability to resolve conflict have a huge influence on the long-term life chances of children,” said Carey Oppenheim, chief executive at EIF.
“Yet, improving the relationships between parents is not taken account of in many children’s, maternity and family services.”
The EIF is consequently calling for greater national investment into the development of knowledge in this area, specifically how best to support different inter-parental relationships.
Professor Gordon Harold, from the school of psychology at the University of Sussex, said that parental relationships represent one of the strongest influences on children’s long-term mental health and wellbeing.
“Research shows that even when parenting practices are considered, conflict between parents affects an array of negative mental health and poor outcomes for children, including reduced academic attainment,” he said.
“Failing to support the inter-parental relationship where the objective is to promote positive child and adolescent outcomes linked to family experiences, may mean a key influence is substantively missed out. This will not only affect today’s generation of children, but tomorrow’s generation of parents.”