Is it really better for the kids? Johann Hari argues “no”:
Professor Kelly Musick and Dr Ann Meier of Cornell University have carried out a study of children whose parents stay together for the sake of the kids. We all know some: parents who can’t stand each other, but have made a hard-headed decision to stay together nonetheless. They are exactly the kind of people who would be glued back together by Cameron’s policies if they succeeded in their goal.
It turns out their children do worse than any other group – including those of divorcees or single mums. If you are raised by arguing parents who stayed together only for you, then you are 33 percent more likely to become a binge-drinking teen than if you have a single parent, for example.
Having parents locked in live-in combat damages children more than having separated parents, or just one single parent – and the damage lasts well into adulthood. The offspring are more likely to have bad marriages themselves, and more likely to have children at a very young age.
Hari also defends divorce as not the sign of our moral collapse but our increased reasonableness:
Isn’t it a strength that we accept marriages fail, not because of wickedness or moral laxity, but because of ordinary human incompatibility? Yes, it brings some problems – but this study underlines that they are far less than the problems of imprisoning people in dead marriages, and lecturing them it’s for their own moral health.